I grew up in an average home on a lake spending many days working in the garden, fishing, or working on the farm. I am the youngest of four children- one brother, two sisters, with a mother and father who would do anything to show that they loved me. The first time that I was asked to share my story I was very hesitant because I didn’t think that it was very powerful, I reflected on James 2:10 that states “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.” Even though I have not come from a past of “great” sin or a horrible background, God still broke into my sinful heart and brought me to Him- and that’s always a big deal!
I grew up in a Baptist church going every Sunday and going to Awana on Wednesday nights. It was one of those Wednesday nights that I remember coming home and crying that I needed Jesus as Savior of my life. That night on the bottom bunk with my mom I prayed a prayer, saying that I wanted Jesus to be king of my life. My life didn’t changed after that night because my heart was not in the right place to be changed. I did not want to do what I knew was right. I wanted to fit in with my friends, and I knew that that was not right. I also knew that I did not have a proper fear of God in me because I did not hate the sin in my life. I had no remorse over my sin. I wanted to be king of my life. God could have me on Sunday and Wednesday nights, and maybe other times if it was convenient.
This continued through most of middle school. It was some time 8th grade year that I went to a youth rally. We had a picnic and I saw our new youth pastor pray before he ate. It just hit me how important God was to this guy. Later that afternoon one of the youth pastors gave a talk about being sold out for God, not holding back parts of your life for yourself, but giving it all up to God and letting Him reign as the king of your life. That really hit me hard; that this was the night I truly surrendered my life to God. Before this I was just saying that God was God, but not living my life for him. These two verses hit me hard showing me that before this day I had not been a true Christian.
John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches whoever abides in me and I in you, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me,” Lord Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
I began to be discipled by the youth pastor. I didn’t really know what that meant at the time, but it sounded fun. I would hang out with this cool guy, and then read a little bible. We started reading a book called Changed to His Image- this was a great experience for me getting to learn from the youth pastor and being taught what it meant to be a follower of God, and not just being content with where I was. For the first time I understood what Jesus truly did for me on the cross. I was growing stronger as a Christian and was baptized the fall of my junior year.
My junior year also marked when I began to struggle. The youth pastor was moving to the east coast the same time my brother went to college. My two biggest role models left, leaving me back to where I started with my old friends. Let’s just say that they did not have the best influence on me. I soon realized I was slipping, but I didn’t know where to look. I knew God was my ultimate satisfaction, but none of my friends agreed. I was trying to hang out with an older guy that I knew was a strong Christian and could help me, but it was tough not having anyone my own age. I was in a very hard spot for a long time; I was not growing in Christ and if you are not growing you are going backwards.
I was always very encouraged by my bother every time he came home. He was growing by leaps and bounds closer to Christ, and I saw that in every aspect of his life. I realized that it was the great community that he had at his college. This made me so excited to go to college where I too could have some strong Godly friends that could really encourage me. However, I was so excited to get to college and meet new friends that I forgot about the impact I was having on my high school friends. They all knew I was a Christian, but I did not use the opportunities that I was given to witness and share my faith with them. That is one of my biggest regrets of high school.
God has brought me some awesome guys here at my campus that encourages me when I need it. God has truly reveled himself to me through scripture and prayer. Every day is a fight to seek God as it says in Tedashii’s song Make War, I want to “fight the good fight of faith…” James 1:2 reminds me that day after day I have to remind myself that there will be trials to strengthen me. I am the creature. I am not the creator. Life is not easy as a Christian, but it is rewarding getting to live and serve the God of the Universe.