If you would have told me a few years ago that at age 26, I would be reading my Bible every day, attending church three times a week, and telling others about Christ, I would not have believed you. If you told me that I would pour all my beer down the drain and stop attending parties, I would have laughed at you. There would have been no way I would ever do that—unless some miraculous change had taken place.
You see, as a kid I grew up going to church with my family often. I knew there was a God watching me and I tried to do what I thought was right. I believed that if I went to church every Sunday and if I was good then I would go to heaven. It became difficult to be good and I did not like going to church. So eventually I quit going and thought nothing more about it.
In my teens I would occasionally go back to church looking to satisfy a spiritual craving, but something didn’t seem right so I would stop again. I believed that the Bible was important but I never wanted to read it. I thought that it was just a book full of rules. Secretly I came to despise what I did not understand. I grew more and more frustrated, depressed, alone, and empty. “I was looking for meaning in my life but found none..” I was looking for meaning in my life but found none. Inwardly I was full of fear and uncertainty and a lack of peace. I knew I was missing something, but I didn’t know what it could be. Nothing I tried seemed to satisfy me. There had to be something more.
The first time I really heard anything about the gospel was when I was a freshman in college. My brother repeated a story he had heard from a few religious friends. They had drawn a picture of two mountain peaks, separated by a chasm, and explained that God is on one mountain and we are on the other mountain with no way to reach God. Then they had added a bridge and explained that Jesus was the only way to God. I listened to my brother’s explanation, and though I did not fully understand it, the picture stuck with me. Who exactly was this Jesus? Why was He the only way to get to God? These questions and other spiritual questions would concern me at times. But most of the time I didn’t give them a thought as I stayed busy with college, entertainment, partying, and other distractions.
I struggled through college doing what I wanted to do. My depression was lifting and I believed God was behind that. It motivated me to learn more about God so I started to casually read the Bible on weeknights. During my senior year I came across a Christian radio station and started listening to the speakers talk about Jesus. I realized that in God’s eyes I was a sinner and had broken God’s commandments and was bound for hell. I was understanding more about Jesus and how He was the bridge to God since He had died on the cross as my substitute for my sins. “I came to the wrong conclusion that since I was understanding the truth that Jesus is the Savior, I was now saved.” I came to the wrong conclusion that since I was understanding the truth that Jesus is the Savior, I was now saved.
However, my life was still plagued by doubts and I was still cursing, drinking, and doing my own thing. I did not have an attitude of repentance (turning from sin) or sorrow in my heart. Nothing about me changed on the inside. I still lacked soul-satisfying peace and joy. After I finished college, I stopped listening to Christian radio and reading my Bible.
My spiritual life now seemed darker and more confused. I began seeking a great feeling, so at the suggestion of a friend, I tried skydiving. My friend told me that when she jumped out of an airplane she got such a “rush” that it energized her for a year. I believed that this was the feeling I was looking for, so I scheduled and paid for a jump. The day finally came. I got into the plane and we flew up to ten thousand feet and then I jumped out. After I landed, it suddenly came to me—I did not get that feeling, the rush that I so wanted. I felt exactly the same as I had before I had jumped. I was extremely disappointed.
Sometime after that, my brother was doing an informal Bible study with my sister and me. I don’t remember the specific verses we were studying, but many of my lingering questions about salvation were answered. I began to feel conviction about my sin and my need to get right with God. I decided I needed to find a church where the Bible was being clearly taught and where I could learn and grow spiritually.
In November of 2005, I visited Lehigh Valley Baptist Church to see my brother-in-law get baptized. During the service he gave his testimony of how he was saved. His story of how God had worked in his life was a great encouragement to me. I was able to see for myself how God changed a life instead of just reading about it. During his testimony he used a word that stuck in my mind: distraction. I had never really thought of it before, but suddenly I realized that anything that keeps me from putting God first is a distraction. God continued to speak to my heart that night through the preaching of the missionary guest speaker. I was overwhelmed with the sting of conviction and saw my hypocrisy and complacency. I felt sorry that my sin had put Him on the cross and I detested myself. I was tired of sinning and I wanted to turn from it. All I needed to do was to put my full trust in Him. That night I prayed to God and called on Jesus’ name, trusting Him to save me.“For by grace are ye saved, through faith. And that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) I finally understood why Christ had come to die on the cross—He came to take my place, for only He could save me. He is the only Bridge to God.
Since that night I have seen God making changes in my life that prove the truth of 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” I find myself reading the Bible every day – a crucial habit in starting my day right. The Holy Spirit is teaching me to understand the Bible in ways I never imagined. I have stopped my dependence on television, partying, and other entertainment, which just distracted me from God and was a waste of time. My cursing has stopped, and even my thoughts and attitudes have changed. I used to love beer, but after I learned the truth of God’s word about alcohol (“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” Proverbs 20:1), I went home and dumped out a case of beer that I had in the fridge. My computer used to be full of illegal software, so I reformatted my computer and reloaded only the programs I had legally purchased. I love going to church now and wish there were more services available each week! “I am constantly amazed at all that the Lord is doing in my life to change me.” I am constantly amazed at all that the Lord is doing in my life to change me. I had been so powerless to make those same changes when I had tried before in my own strength.
Though I still fail and have a lot more to learn, I praise God for showing me my sin and humbling me. I know without a doubt that I am saved by Jesus Christ. “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:13) Now when God looks at me, He no longer sees my sin but the forgiveness that Jesus has given me. I have done nothing to deserve or earn my salvation—it is all a gift of God’s grace. And it is available for you, too, my friend. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)