I’m about to give you what Christians like to call a testimony. What it really is is a story about how one comes to know Jesus Christ. Some stories are really incredible. I know a man who was dying in the hospital with kidney failure, and though he didn’t know Christ he turned to him in a final moment of desperation. Immediately he got out of his bed and peed two large kidney stones without any pain. He was healed, and later went on to become my parent’s pastor. Now he is a missionary in Guatemala. My mother was plagued with nightmares about a man in black coming into her room throughout her life. Soon after accepting Christ she experienced another vivid nightmare and commanded the dark presence to leave in the name of Jesus. On that occasion she felt led to a specific verse in the Bible (she didn’t know the Bible at all at the time) and it read, The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. (Romans 16:20) She never had another nightmare. Wild stuff, and there’s plenty more.
My story is a little different. It doesn’t have miraculous healing or men in black. But it is still pretty incredible. Hopefully I can do it justice in this little post.
It begins with my mother praying for a son before I was conceived. She asked God for a son, and also that he would serve the Lord (God) throughout his life. Not long after that, I was born. I really believe that any true account of my life has to begin with this prayer. Did my whole life begin with a prayer? That might be cooler than the kidney stones.
My youth was not particularly a good reflection of the Christian life. I mostly hated to go to church and I killed animals for fun. I also swore like a sailor. But even with all of that going on, I should point out that I always had a sensitive spirit. If I steered clear of church or anything related to God I would become drained and irritated and an overall worse person. When I read the Bible or listened to a sermon I felt something stir inside. At a very young age I claimed to accept Jesus Christ as my savior, and perhaps I really did, but I wasn’t walking with him. I wasn’t living for him. I was largely a nominal Christian (in name only). This was true through high school and into my freshman year in college. You see, up to this point the story isn’t that interesting.
My freshman year sucked. I experienced a painful break-up and I hated my dorm. I went home almost every weekend to get away from it. My roommate, Eric, was cool, and I did have a few friends from home, but overall I felt like garbage. My world was shaken up, and I felt lost and angry. At this time I filled out a random survey in the dining hall. It turns out that the survey was put out by a Christian group called the Navigators as a means to recruit anyone seeking God. If I had known that at the time I probably wouldn’t have filled it out.
I remember Jeff Campbell and Steve Yeakley coming to my dorm room asking if I wanted to go with them to one of their “meetings.” I absolutely did not want to go. Why would I want to hang around with a bunch of Christians singing sappy songs? Reluctantly, I would go. But oftentimes I would make up an excuse and dodge them. I really wanted no part. In my mind I had all of the answers, and I didn’t want to talk about my personal life with a bunch of strangers who were probably hypocrites anyway. I recall sitting in a car with one of the senior Navigators and telling him that I didn’t belong. I could never feel comfortable with a group of Christians.
A critical moment came when an acquaintance from high school ran into me on the way to one of the meetings. He asked where I was headed, and when I told him he replied, ” Really? I thought you were an atheist.” What!!??! That was shocking to me. How could someone think that I was not only not a Christian, but a full blown atheist?
Perhaps the most important event at this time was when a friend named Dan Kim asked me if I wanted to read the Bible and pray with him in the morning before school. This terrified me, but for some reason I agreed. All we did was read a passage and pray together. I had never done that, but it affected me in a big way. Suddenly everything I always said I believed was made real. Jesus said, “Where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20). Christ was there that day, and I would identify this as the true beginning of our walk together.
After that I read the Bible like a child discovering the world for the first time. Suddenly all of it mattered to my life because I knew in my heart that it was the word of God. I got a great deal from Bible studies, and remember a stretch where I felt incredible excitement and energy for God. I experienced tremendous personal growth as I began to see the areas of my life that needed help. And I also started to find great joy in being with other Christians. I no longer kept them at a distance. A group of people who love Jesus and live accordingly is called a Christian community. I was part of a Christian community and I liked it a lot.
So if freshman year was the breaking, and sophomore year was the building, junior and senior year were the working. I was given the opportunity to start a Christian magazine alongside other Christians at UMass. This project demanded a great deal of time, prayer, faith, and plain old work. We were on the front lines of spreading the good news about Jesus Christ to a very secular campus. There was much pain involved, and I was broken and humbled by physical pain and emotional strain from the first day it all began until graduation. I believe in the spiritual realm, though many American Christians do not, and I really believed in it when we started to proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ in a land of spiritual darkness. If you encroach on foreign soil, there will be consequences. Nevertheless, God enabled us to do this work. It was the single most important endeavor of my life up to this point.
So now what? College was an incredible time of personal and spiritual growth. I was walking hand in hand with Jesus Christ! But now I am looking for my path. Now I seem to be waiting for God to grab my hand again and take me somewhere incredible. Interesting things are happening.
I am blessed to have a girlfriend who shares my love for Christ. Nicole is an inspiration and encourages me to seek after God.
I have also been fortunate to make friends who also love the Lord and have invited me to join Bible study and just hang out. Through my friend Tim I have also started going to a church in Auburn called Faith Baptist. I’m really liking it.
Before I end this, I really need to let you all know something. My walk with Christ isn’t just this big stuff that I’ve mentioned. Actually, it’s mostly not any of that. Really, it’s the day to day living. It’s the small choices and the quiet prayers. It’s praising God for anything and everything. It’s the peace that comes from knowing Jesus Christ and walking beside him through life. I love Jesus, and there are many reasons to if you read the Bible, and if you experience his love for you from those who already love him. You’ll notice I say love quite a bit when speaking about my God. You’ll notice that.
I hope you’ll continue on this journey with me as I dig deeper into some of the issues preventing people from experiencing the love of God.