Every time I share my testimony, I always am envious of those that remember the moment where God reached them. Individuals that had their lives do a complete 180, and can recall their born again moment tied to a specific event, date or time.
I never had that one event, but rather a steady buildup over time. I grew up in and out of church going occasionally with my grandparents. My parents always thought church was good and great, but was not for them. So, though Christianity was familiar in my immediate family, it wasn’t practiced. It wasn’t until high school until I really enjoyed church, but it wasn’t for reasons centered around Christ. I enjoyed the social aspect, the friends, girls and activities the church group did. I very much enjoyed my “faith”, but it was a faith without actions.
Throughout most of my adolescence, I was always asking why and challenging God. I wanted to be in control and fit God into my plans. This selfishness I had turned into an arrogant irritation with religion as a whole. There were so many friends I had that were Mormon, Jewish, Catholic, Buddhist…so many different cultures and beliefs. I got frustrated that they each had their own code, creed and culture. With so many religions, how do we know which is right? How do we know the Bible is real? My reaction was to read, read and read. I started with the Bible, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Case for a Creator and other religious texts and commentary. I attended several apologetics seminars and even skipped around churches and places of worship to find out who and what this Jesus guy was all about.
In college, I took a few different religious studies classes just to learn more in a classroom setting of various religions, and what the fundamentals of each were. It was through constant prayer asking for direction and reading literature that Jesus made himself known to me in a new light. It became evident to me through conviction that Jesus came to this world in the form of flesh and blood and lived a perfect and sinless life. He died the most cruel and punishing death on our behalf as the ultimate sacrifice, and rose from the dead 3 days later to proclaim all that He said to be. Now He’s sitting at the right hand of the Father. The beauty of having a relationship with Jesus is that salvation is not earned, it’s given freely. You don’t have to surf the biggest wave or climb the tallest mountain and then salvation is earned. Instead, Jesus calls us to come to Him as we are and live the life God intended for us to live: in and for His glory.
It was around this time I chose to use the Bible to follow Jesus’ teachings as a template on how to live, and turned my life to God. It was more meaningful and personal then in the past, because it was the first time I chose to surrender to God’s will, rather than fit Him into my own. I didn’t have everything figured out, and I never will have everything figured out. But God calls us to come, and let Him make the transformation in us. Just as Jesus renamed 3 of the 12 disciples, I believe he does the same in us representing a new beginning and direction. A faith centered around Jesus’ teachings, living with humility and loving others. Though I continually fall short and mess up daily, I try to bring what’s up there in Heaven down here on Earth. The most compelling story I have read about the character of Jesus was “The Jesus I Never Knew” by Philip Yancey. If you are reading this, you will appreciate at least “googling” the synopsis of the book, it’s an enjoyable read.
Shortly after I led a high school guys group with my best friend for 4 years, got plugged in even more at my church doing announcements, ushering, and whatever needed to be done. I am now in my early 30’s, been married for 8 years and have two children. I have never looked back and continue to seek God daily. Though I continually fall short, I’m no longer scared of the unknown and have faith that God has his arms around me. It’s that balance of dependence, trust and faith that continues to develop in my life, and shape me as a Jesus follower. It’s humbling and comforting to know God’s in control. He knows the number of hairs on our head, and knew us before we were even born. When the world gets heavy and you feel alone searching for answers, I found myself going back to Philippians 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
– Jack C.