God Made Me A New Man With A New Heart
Being raised in the countryside of Pennsylvania with a family of 9, I had so many great memories. Life seemed so good and carefree. Every day was an adventure as I played with my brothers and sister, exploring the outdoors while being homeschooled together. Most Sundays, we attended church, and my father read us the Word of God many nights. I also learned about Jesus Christ and the Holy Bible during these beginning years from my parents. I heard many of the famous Bible stories, and I memorized John 3:16.
"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."
I knew it was essential to fear God and to respect the Bible. I also knew that God was a loving and forgiving God, but He was also just and holy and would punish sin. These fundamental truths were things I did not question even as I got older. Although no one put these topics in exact words for me, it was something that I picked up on as I observed.
When I was eight, my family moved to NJ, where everything changed. We stopped attending church and reading or caring about the Bible together. It seemed like everything was falling apart. We began to depart from believing the Word of God, and eventually, after only a year of unrest in the home, my dad left, and everything changed. Things became very unstable, and there seemed to be no certainty.
"I felt very fearful, confused, insecure, and unworthy of love.
As I attended public school and heard what the other kids were saying and believing, I was shocked and had to rethink everything. I challenged all my classmates on their beliefs and felt they were susceptible to believing anything they were being taught. Seeing this gullibility made me a liar because I thought getting people to fall for tricks was funny. Meanwhile, I also needed clarification about life and reality.
Eventually, I fell under peer pressure to become like those around me and to conform to their beliefs. I wanted to be normal and cool, and likable. I quickly realized I was more of a leader. Many of my peers seemed to look up to my talents and abilities and gravitated toward me. I wanted to forget everything from my past and move on to this new life with new friends.
One day I was in my room alone, bored and thinking about God and who He was. I was about nine years old, and my family had already fallen apart. I saw the ten commandments on my bedroom wall in a Picture Frame. At that point, I decided to go through them and see if I was good enough to be accepted by God.
As I went through God's Law, I realized I wasn't as good of a person as I thought, and I was going to have to be very different if I wanted to be accepted by God (of course, I know now God will accept anyone as they are, who genuinely repent and believe the gospel). I told myself I would worry about getting right with God later in life after I had all my fun and explored what the world had.
Well, sadly, that is what I decided to do. Through the years, I would have encounters with Christians who influenced me to desire a walk with God. Still, for the most part, I always saw those Christians as weird because they were too friendly and gentle, and out of touch. I thought all Christians accepted their religion because they were nerds and could never hack it in the world, so they had to run to Christianity to feel accepted somewhere. This hindered me from ever wanting to take it seriously. I saw all the people in the world who were cool and good-looking and talented and rich and successful were usually non-believers, so that's the direction I chose also.
"I barely believed there was a God and felt the Bible was made up. Life seemed to be all just a bad dream."
I couldn't stop gambling at casinos, I couldn't stop getting into trouble, I kept burning bridges with people, I constantly feared for my life, and nothing was ever working out for me or getting better. I tried to turn my life around twice for less than a year each, and both times I eventually ran back to drugs which comforted me.
When I was 21, I lost two close friends to drugs, and it scared me, but I was so numb to the seriousness of death that I didn't change anything, and I wanted to die myself. I wanted the pain of my life to be over with. Out of the blue, I was asked to move to North Dakota and attend a baptist church. Although I felt nothing could help me, I decided to move was my only chance at life. When I arrived in ND, everything was different. I attended church, and I heard the gospel being preached. I wanted God, but after months of trying to be a Christian, I failed and knew I would never be able to change.
One night when I was 22, I was in my room after being out of church for a few months and finding myself at the lowest point and realizing there was no more plan b for me. I wanted the pain of broken dreams and emptiness and rejection to end. I turned and saw the Bible in my room. Finally, I didn't care about anything around me or what people thought. I was without distractions and really wanted to hear from God. I opened the Bible, where I read about Jesus. I felt horrible for my sin, and I knew He loved me. I felt most horrible for turning from Him this whole time, for all these years, while he patiently loved me and waited for me to come to Him. I felt a huge weight on my shoulders as I read, so I knew I had to ask for salvation and call upon Jesus' name. I got on my knees and asked Christ to save me.
God delivered me from all my sins and my dark lifestyle. He has made me a new man with a new plan. I have graduated college, started my own business, traveled the world helping others, especially those much less fortunate, and now serve on staff at my church in Pennsylvania. If God can change me, He can change anyone. Why not you?