As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; (Romans 3:10)
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:21-24)
I have known these words for a very long time. I have also known the meaning. Even before I became a believer in Christ at the age of 9, I heard and understood these verses for others and for myself. I was not hit-over-the-head with these verses by anyone before my decision to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior, but I have heard it quoted many times since.
The interesting memory I have of my relationship with God before I knew Him as the Savior of my soul was one of being friends, then dating, then marriage to my Lord. When I type that it sounds weird for this male, confident in his manhood, to say something like that, but that is the best way I can describe it for now. I remember befriending Tanya and finding out her interests by hanging out together. Then I remember asking her out on some dates and then if she wanted to be my girlfriend. During the courting/dating stage of our relationship I found out more information about what makes her tick. I found out what she loved, her hopes and dreams and supported her any way I could. Observing that she did the same for me and come to find out she was crazy about me - I asked her to marry me and 17 years later we are still going strong.
With my relationship with God before salvation I had the right environment to foster the kind of relationship God wanted with me. I had a home atmosphere and upbringing (and still do) that gave me a moral foundation to stand and move upon. I knew God as a friend by knowing right from wrong, what I was suppose to do, what I needed to do, and what was expected of me within the family and for me as an individual. But after I started "dating" the Lord or taking our relationship up a level, I knew from studying His Word that right from wrong and doing good works was not enough to have the kind of relationship that He desired for all of eternity. There was only one way I was going to get to the "marriage" level of my relationship with God and that was through belief and confession of Jesus' sacrifice for the salvation of my mind, body, and soul. At age 9, at my uncle's church in Fayetteville, I accepted Jesus as my Savior, God, and Friend. Soon afterward I got baptized by my uncle in a little pond down by the same church. A little later in my spiritual walk with the Lord, I received the Holy Spirit to live out my life with the power and might of God and to be lead and comforted by His Spirit.
So, ever since I was born I have felt like I had a relationship with God. He has always surrounded me in some form or fashion or type of relationship. I can't say that I dotted every "I" and crossed every "T" before becoming a Christian, but even after becoming a Christian I am not perfect either. We are all works in progress this side of heaven. I am just so grateful that He loved me with abundant love - love that keeps on giving. He gave love at the cross and when He arose from the grave. He gave love by sending the Holy Spirit to believers who asked for guidance and comfort in life. But He kept loving me by creating me the way I am and placing me in the home environment I had growing up before my salvation and after. I am so thankful and humbled at His love for me.
"Oh, how I love Jesus. Oh, how I love Jesus. Oh, how I love Jesus. Because He first loved me."