I Was Tired of Living an Empty Life
-Jeremiah Cefola

I Was Tired of Living an Empty Life

My name is Jeremiah Cefola, and this is my story.

My name is Jeremiah Cefola, and this is my story. I was born into a Christian family and was raised in Lehigh Valley Baptist Church. I have attended there for as long as I can remember. Because I was in a Christian family, I always thought I was a good kid. I knew I wasn’t perfect, but I thought I was better than a lot of my friends at church and certainly better than my non-Christian friends. As I got older, I began absorbing Biblical knowledge like a sponge. I quickly became the guy with all the Bible answers, but I never owned any of those truths for myself; I knew Scripture in my head, but I didn’t know God in my heart, and I felt no urgency to change that.
I remained in this mindset until 2012 when I was able to attend my first Youth Group Summer Camp. During a particular message from the camp speaker, God brought me under conviction of sin in my life. I went forward during the invitation and asked God to save me from having to experience the consequences of my sinful choices. I promised to love Him and to try to follow his commands for me. I felt pretty good after that. I thought: “Now that that’s done, I can go on with my life and do what I want.” My heart was lacking in genuine commitment that day, but the experience did encourage me to start looking for God in my daily life.
"My heart was lacking in genuine commitment that day, but the experience did encourage me to start looking for God in my daily life."
During the next few years, I began to pay more attention to the preaching in church. I kept going to teen summer and winter camps, and I tried to hear from God in the sermons that were given.

One Sunday night, a friend of mine came up to me in the foyer and told me that he’d gotten saved. In the weeks that followed, I began to notice a dramatic change in his actions and behavior. He did many of the same good, Christian things he’d done before, but now I could see he had a desire to truly please God and serve Him from a heart of love. That really convicted me as I had not experienced any significant change in my life. I was just going through the motions of Christianity so everyone would think I was a good kid.
"I was just going through the motions of Christianity so everyone would think I was a good kid."
I told myself I was saved. I knew I had prayed to God back in 2012, and I’d promised to serve Him better. But still, my life had not been transformed the way my friend’s had been. I didn’t talk or even think about God as much as I knew a child of God should. I rushed through my devotions or sometimes skipped them altogether. I rarely prayed, and when I did, it was always at church where I knew I was supposed to be praying. I knew all the facts of salvation in my head, but I still didn’t believe in my heart that Jesus Christ was the only way I could ever be saved and have eternal life.
I was an empty shell – living a good, Christian life on the outside, but in reality, it was all a sham. There was no way that this was the abundant life the Bible promises to those who believe on Him! I was missing a vital part of salvation – and therefore was not saved at all!

When I prayed in 2012, I had overlooked the fact that salvation was by grace through faith. I had thought that because I said I was sorry for my sin, God had no choice but to save me. I knew that God’s Word said that God would save me from my sins and that He desired to do so. All I had to do was surrender completely to Him, but I didn’t have the faith to put my life in God’s hands and trust Him completely. I just wanted God to save me from the consequences of my sin, but then, I wanted Him out of my life.

It wasn’t until 2015 when I finally woke up to the reality of the emptiness of my life. I was privileged to go on a teen missions trip to Scotland. Upon our return, several of us were asked to sum up a few things about the trip that we felt were important and how the trip had been a spiritual benefit to us. I agreed to share my experiences, and I gave a quick testimony in the evening service that Sunday. After seeing several other teens share their experiences, I realized that the emphasis of my report had been on myself and what I had done. Those teens, who had a testimony of salvation, focused more on others and the work that God was doing in Scotland. I was struck by the obvious difference between my motives and desires and those of people who were God’s true children.

I knew why they were different than I was. Although I claimed to be saved, my profession of salvation hadn’t resulted in much of a change in my thinking. I still was living for myself, and my Christian facade was just for show.
I had little to no desire to please God with my life, and I didn’t want to surrender to Him. But the more I tried to run my own life, the more discontented I became with the direction my life was headed. The preaching that night encouraged me to dig a little deeper in my thinking, but I don’t remember what the topic of the message was. I guess I was too busy wrestling with God.
"I still was living for myself, and my Christian facade was just for show.”
When we got home after church, I was still fighting conviction. My dad asked if we could talk, and I shared my doubts about my salvation with him. My dad asked some questions about my profession from 2012, and I was forced to admit that something was seriously wrong with my relationship with God, and I was ready to deal with it.

I finally understood that my motives for wanting to be saved had been wrong, and I realized that God still saw my sin was in need of cleansing. I decided to deal with my sin once and for all, not just for my own peace, but also because I truly desired to have a real relationship with God.

When we finished talking, I went up to my room and surrendered everything to the Lord. I asked Him to forgive me of my sins and to change me on the inside. God heard my prayer that night! The Bible says in John 6:37, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” I believe God and His promise of salvation, and so I know that on October 4th, 2015, I was saved by God’s grace!

Now, I have a true desire to love God and serve Him. I now have the Holy Spirit of God living inside of me. God’s Spirit directly applies the words of Scripture to my life, and I have experienced a real transformation in my motives and my desires. I’m in no way perfect, but God is continually growing me to become more like Him. Colossians 1:13-14, “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.”