I accepted Christ when I was 16 years old. I came from a non-Christian family and for some reason, in grade 10, I decided to check out a church. I was your typical everyday nice guy. School was never a problem for me, I had awesome friends, no real financial concerns, and all the freedom a kid could want at my age. I did whatever I wanted to do, felt blessed, and was thankful. I was always out, always distracted, always enjoying it, but there was a restlessness within me that would not go away. I literally had everything, yet this ‘God thing’ seemed to elude me. Religion seemed to be the final frontier. I knew people who had it and held onto it so tightly, they claimed they would die for it. I wondered if they could possibly have something that I didn’t. Being a very self-sufficient, self-made kind of guy, this seemed to be next up on the list. I guess I was wondering what else this life had to offer.
I accepted Christ amid all the hype during a Billy Graham crusade a year later. Something had compelled me to leave my friends behind and accept this God I couldn’t quite understand. I wanted this God that everyone else seemed to have, present in my life.
After I accepted Christ, things definitely seemed even better. I had found my answer to the meaning of life! Found it, got it, done. However, I made the unfortunate mistake of not talking with anyone else about my newfound faith. This was a personal thing, and had nothing to do with anyone else. I also felt like I was somehow lagging behind because I hadn’t grown up in the church. I wanted integrity in what I believed so I sought for answers in all the books I could get on Christianity and world religions. At the time, I had also been doing a lot of writing and poetry, and it brought me to a place where I delved into the depths of myself, and all I seemed to find were the darkest things. I was wrapped up in myself, busy being me, to an extreme. I was always after the alternative, looking for my own personal truth.
I never thought I’d have to lose anything when gaining Christ. I struggled incessantly with sin while standing in God’s presence weekly. I struggled with being a Christian in the world, trying to stand out while fitting in. At times Christianity seemed too unreal to me, more like some human construct, fabricated for the weak. Other times I found myself promising God over and over that I would get things right with him. I’d try, with everything I had in me, but I usually ended up falling short and justifying whatever I did wrong. I strayed far and battled God every step of the way, thinking I won each time I left God speechless. I eventually turned away from God. I stopped going to church because I found it hard to go without feeling somewhat clean. I still thought that God was good and all, but I didn’t feel I had enough time for what God demanded of me and I really didn’t even feel the need for God anymore. I had been there, tried that, great for everyone else, but not for me.
I carried on with my life as if nothing had changed, but after having seen a glimmer of who Jesus Christ was. After thinking I had found the answers and then turning away from them. I was left with a lingering feeling of emptiness… what was I doing with my life? Nothing really mattered… why did I make all these goals for myself, trying to feel satisfied, only to wake feeling empty again. Why did I lie to myself and say things were okay, when they weren’t? Why did I continually ignore the problems in my life? I eventually lost all drive in doing things or moving forward. I spent countless nights trying to find loopholes in people’s arguments and pointing out how I would do things differently. I poured all my energy into holding on to all the things I had made with my own hands. For years all the things that really mattered passed me by and slipped away while I stood, holding my own, not willing to move, pretending not to care. Eventually, I just got tired. I was so tired of fighting a truth that I knew was true. I don’t have a story where God gave me a supernatural vision or I had somehow figured out Christianity was for me. It was so typical. Over time by God’s grace and patience I simply broke, and acknowledged I just couldn’t carry on on my own anymore and that I needed God in every part of my life. Who was this God who promised me the most unattainable of things? Who was this King of Glory who couldn’t stand to leave me the way I was? All I really know is that God had tired me out. He pursued me relentlessly. He kept His promise, He never left me, and I couldn’t shake Him. I saw how God had presented me with a choice with every breath, no matter how far astray I went, or how much spite I was feeling, and that he wanted me to choose Him and take Him seriously.
To be honest, I never thought I’d end up truly admitting that God was God and God was real with my all my heart. I thought I’d be on the fence forever. That I’d be this open-minded nice guy who lived in both worlds. I chose God for good this time around. I would no longer put Him next to the rest of the things I had accumulated in life, He would be the very center of my life and guide me every step of the way! I felt an immediate sense of urgency to finally do something worthwhile in my life. I was aching for purity and I wanted to rebuild myself around Christ, because Christ was God, and He had offered Himself to me.
I found myself covered in my own sins afraid to look up again at a God that I knew to be so Holy. When I finally did, I realized that through all my years running from Him, He remained the same with His arms wide open. He still offered the same gift of life, He still chose to call me His child. His Spirit swept over me and I let Him back into my life. At that moment there was something more powerful than the guilt and shame I had brought to Him. It was His overwhelming love, and my inability to do nothing but worship Him.
It’s been an amazing ride since that day. It’s taken me a long time to accept His grace. He’s changed everything from the inside out. From my very being to the world that surrounds me. The Lord has blessed me so much, sometimes I’m afraid it hurts my testimony, because it’s so easy for me to believe. I no longer struggle with Him, but before him, as He watches over me as my most loving Father. I still stumble, and he picks me up time after time. And through all things, “His grace is sufficient for me” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
In Christ Jesus Forever,