I didn’t grow up knowing Jesus. Maybe like you, I always felt that maybe something much bigger was watching over my life. My life was much like a rollercoaster filled with exciting plunges, frightening drops, and God planned turns. Out of the gate of life, I was a happy kid. I had great siblings to play with, introduced to the world of sports, and had plenty of friends in the neighborhood that I grew up with, to get into all kinds of adventures. The sport I developed the biggest passion for was soccer. It also became my way to escape from the difficulties of life I was beginning to experience. It was my transition into Jr. High when my world began to turn dark. I didn’t realize how difficult life was going to be. One of the most significant figures in my life became physically abusive. I was struggling academically in school and experiencing painful situations. This was a defining moment in my life. I could have chosen to rise up against what was going on or be the victim and numb the deep pain I was feeling inside. Unfortunately I chose to decide to numb the pain and my pain became shrapnel to others. I decided to take the path of destruction and got expelled from High school. Somebody was looking out for me and I was able to return my senior year and graduate. The path of destruction only got worse until I hit bottom. God put somebody in my life to tell me about Jesus and show me a different path. At first, I could believe in a God. That wasn’t too difficult for me because creation, nature, & the universe showed me there was something much bigger than us humans that was in control. But why did I have to put my trust and faith in Jesus? I hung around Saddleback Church and saw what Jesus was doing and how He was transforming people’s lives and hearts. I needed transformation in my life and I was told that Jesus could be my Heavenly Father who was full of grace and mercy and who loved me. I accepted Jesus into my life. I admitted I was a sinner. I believed that Jesus died on the cross for my past, present, and future sins. I wanted Jesus to be my Savior. My life didn’t get easier, however I was beginning to experience mercy and grace in my life. Where there was disorder in my life, order began to show up. The hardest part was old friendships became distance. Actually friends separated themselves from me. Jesus was faithful to put new friends in my life during another challenging season in my life. Jesus began to develop this heart inside me for others. I got involved in missions, ministering to others, and service. My life became about doing these good things but I was spending less time with Jesus. Within a few years my heart began to wander. I chose to pursue the materialistic things of this world, success that would make people think highly of me, and I neglected my amazing high school sweetheart wife. After three years of trying to take control of my life, I watched my world come tumbling down around me. I lost all the materialistic things around me. I almost lost my wife. God put another person in my life. A Pastor who spoke biblical truth into my life one day (Hebrews 4:12-16). My eyes and ears began to open to my pride and ego. I always thought my identity was found in what I did, what I accomplished, or what people said about me. But the Bible tells us that our identity is that we are beloved sons and daughters of God (1 Thessalonians 1:4). This became the root of my new choices. I began to face the pain from my past and asked Him for healing. I learned that because Jesus has forgiven the inexcusable in me that I must forgive the inexcusable in others. Jesus welcomed me back home. Today I need His help every day in my life. I don’t know what I would do without Him. Today Jesus is changing the desires of my heart. He has given us a daughter who was a miracle. He has put brothers and sisters in my life to walk this difficult journey with. He has helped me through undergraduate and graduate school in my late twenties and early thirties when I didn’t think formal education was possible for me. He has given me a career opportunity that has been a huge blessing. Jesus has broken the chains of things that brought great bondage to my life. I have struggled with depression, addiction, narcissism and financial ruin. Today I recognize that I am broken and live in a broken world and that is okay to admit. Every day of life is a blessing. And one of the desires of my heart is that people know that Jesus is our Great Redeemer. Through Him we are redeemed.