In Paul's greeting to the Colossians he tells them (from vs 3-5) that he thanks God for them, and thanks God that the gospel is spreading; and among them too, ( from vs 6) "since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all it's truth."
I will remember forever my first encounter with God's grace, five children and 25 years ago. I'd been churched as a kid, but like so many, carried teenage rebellion to the sinful max, finally settling down to married life. I debated several years about going to church, even after my wife had begun taking our firstborn on a weekly pilgrimage to the local evangelical establishment. I enjoyed the quiet of them gone on Sundays, too. After limited involvement, including pot-lucks, singing in the cantata, etc., I responded to the repeated invitation (and prayers, I later found out) of a fellow I now love, and I began attending.
A year or so passed. I certainly felt "churched" again. If believing in Jesus meant he had paid for my sins so I could go to heaven, I was all for it. I like plans, and this seemed like a real good plan. He does all the work, and I get all the gain. Plus I really felt it was good for the kids, and we were becoming a respectable part of the community. Life made sense, and things were going pretty good for me.
Well, one day at church, we were singing a kind of simple song, but a tear fell from my eye, and it surprised me! And for about 30 seconds I was actually crying! I composed myself, rather embarrassed that I was attracting attention, but only a few people noticed.
After we got home, I told my wife that a felt really weird, and I was going to go back in the bedroom for a while and sit down. I went and picked up my bible, which had been a gift, and opened it up to Matthew, intent on taking a look at it. But I couldn't. The tears were falling all over the pages, as I cried my heart out. What a fool I'd been! The Lord of the universe was pouring his grace all over me, opening my eyes. The only real exact words I remember thinking were, "O my God, I can't believe you chose me." I had never known humility until that moment, I knew there was so much more to learn, but now I saw the world upside down the way Christ saw it, knew he would help me change my life and my way of thinking, and I knew I would never be the same again. I was awake reading my bible for nearly 2 nights in a row, too excited to sleep, knowing that the God of the universe had touched me in such an awesome way.
The pastor and associate pastor had invited me to stop by the church on Wednesday, wanted to "check-in with me, they do that," they had said. I was so glad! I wanted to tell someone who would understand what had happened to me! I was like a kid after a winning a home game as I told them all about it. It was an incredible story and they were so happy for me! I know I was in tears through some of it, too. We laughed and prayed together, I real "pastoral" moment. And when I asked them what they wanted to talk about, having invited me in the first place, they said that they were starting up a worship team, and actually just wanted to make sure I was a born-again believer before they invited me! We laughed some more... God was in control.