I owe my parents (Billy Laudett and Joyce Parks) a great deal of gratitude and respect, because I grew up knowing about Jesus Christ. When I was young, my family thanked God for our food before our meals. My sister Tina and I were always in Bible classes on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. We were always in the worship assemblies on Sunday mornings and evenings. Therefore, I came to know most of the historical accounts of the people in the Bible. Most importantly, I knew about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. I was provided with a good amount of basic knowledge that would later serve as a foundation for my personal faith in Christ.
However, I did not become a true believer until I was 17 years old. At some point in that year, I found the following passage in the Bible:
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors (Isaiah 53:1-12, NIV).
I recognized that the passage was describing the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but I found it strange that it was in the Old Testament. I knew enough about the Bible to know that the Old Testament was written before the birth of Christ. After a little research, I discovered that the passage from Isaiah was written 700 years before the birth of Christ!
How could someone living 700 years earlier have such a clear vision of what the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus would look like? I understood that no one could accurately predict anything 700 years in his or her future, so how could Isaiah have done it? Obviously, it was supernatural.
With my childhood knowledge of the Bible and my recent discovery of Isaiah 53, a genuine faith in Jesus Christ started to develop within me. I had come to recognize that the Bible was reliable and authoritative. It could be trusted. Therefore, I could trust the one it was pointing to as the Savior and Lord. After a few months of reading the Bible, contemplating its message, and assessing my life, I knew that I needed God. I placed my trust in Jesus (who he is and what he has done), committed myself to following him, and was baptized in his name. That passage from the Old Testament gave me a new life...and it is a life of gratitude to God for what he has done for me.