A large portion of this testimony was written on November 7th, 2018, 10 months after professing faith in Jesus Christ. There is a short update at the bottom written on May 22, 2018, four days before I am to be baptized.
“How anybody could believe in an omniscient supernatural being floating in the sky is beyond me.”
That’s something you would’ve heard me say if you had met me many years ago. I don’t even recognize that version of myself anymore. Like many others, I spent the first 22 years of my life searching for meaning in whatever was available. I quickly came to realize that foundational meaning could not be found in ephemeral places. The paradigm shift that took place when I gave my life to follow Christ was something I could never have imagined.
I grew up in an atheistic household, but my parents loved me tremendously and did everything they could to raise me in a moral and good manner. My father taught me that God was a fabrication of mankind, and I was cool with that. I had friends who were raised in the church and they tried to get me involved in their religious life, but I could never connect with this “Jesus” figure they were talking about. I continued on, and in high school, I had a typical life. I played football, had a girlfriend, played music, and was generally happy with my superficial purpose in life.
However, I was prone to depression and self-doubt, and when I got to college to study business, these traits started to rear their ugly heads. I did whatever I could to keep myself propped up on a false sense of meaning, whether it was partying every night, depending on relationships, skipping class and being lazy, or developing dangerous and destructive addictions. I came to realize that I had no purpose and that my life was headed in an unhealthy and unfulfilling direction, and I fell into darkness.
Near the end of my time in college, some of my new friends back home in Fort Mill took me to the local megachurch to show me the message of the Gospel, and at first, I felt empowered by the message. The sermons made me feel good, the music was great, and I felt like I was part of a good community. I even put my hand up and accepted Jesus into my heart and got a Bible. Unfortunately, it was all for naught, and as the months went by, none of it stuck with me. I had this feeling that I had been sucked into a marketing scheme, and I delved back into my life of sin and unbelief, denying God’s existence and continuing to live without any semblance of a moral center.
More time passed, and I was out of college and attempting to make ends meet on my own. In October of 2016, I saw something on Facebook that caught my eye: a request for a guitar player to play at a local church in Cornelius, NC, LIFE Fellowship. Music has always been the center point of my true vocational passion, so I jumped at the opportunity. I kept being invited back to LIFE Fellowship to play, and I kept becoming more and more integrated into the music and community there. I met with the Worship Pastor many times, and I revealed to him that I was not a believer. In light of this, he did not give up on me or abandon me but continued to evangelize to me, discuss the Gospel, and watch over me.
I was leaning on a job as Vice President of a startup company, a rock band, my girlfriend, and the guitar playing at the church. These things were all that held me up from falling back into darkness, but little did I know, I was already in darkness. Even then, I still felt that something wasn’t right and that there was more to life than this. Then, in May of 2017, everything collapsed, and I lost everything. The job, the girlfriend, and the band all went up in flames, and I was left without a rock to stand on. I plunged into darkness again, without a reason to live or any semblance of meaning to my existence. My addictions deepened and my sin grew more and more egregious as I searched for any way to manage the pain.
I stayed in that place for several months and was barely hanging on to any thread of hope. I was still playing at LIFE Fellowship, and it was the only thing I could look forward to each week. It sustained me when nothing else would, but I still didn’t know Christ. All of that was about to change.
Of course, as a result of being around believers and playing at church, I was exposed to the Gospel message and heard lots of things about Jesus, and eventually, my curiosity was peaked. But there was a problem…I had heard many different versions of this Gospel over the course of my life. Some of them wanted to make you rich, some of them wanted you to be a strict rule follower, some of them wanted you to “experience” Jesus through moody worship services…to say the least, I was confused. I knew something was wrong with the presentation of Christianity in America, but I didn’t know exactly what it was.
So, I dove in. Over three months, I researched Christianity relentlessly to find out who Jesus really was. I figured out that there were indeed many false teachers telling lies for shameful gain, and that became a hinge point for my research. I found myself incredibly interested in the truth. What is the truth of the Bible? What is the truth of God? I would listen to ministries on YouTube talk about false teachers and rebuke them with the real Gospel. And when I heard it…it was sounding sweeter and sweeter than anything I had ever heard in my life. I started reading Scripture to see for myself, and my eyes were opened. God’s self-evidence in creation and the objective moral law was becoming clear.
I started having discussions and debates about these things with my friend Austin. I remember vividly when he came over on New Years’ night and we started talking about a sermon we had both just watched, and I was comparing it to Scripture that I had read. Then later, I told him, “Austin, I’ve done a lot of bad things. I’ve sinned against God…” Then he said to me, “Man, you’re gonna be a great Christian someday.” It was the first time I had realized that I was a deeply fallen man, and I deserved death for my sins. The Holy Spirit was drawing me.
It was a long journey, but on February 1st, 2018, I was in an elder’s office at LIFE, and we talked for hours about Christ and His truth and His atoning sacrifice on the cross, and at the end, I prayed to God and told Him that I was repenting of my sin and will start following Christ.
The existential crisis I discussed earlier is now gone. I now know my true purpose, and it is to worship the one true God, the Creator of the Universe, the Savior Jesus Christ. That worship was not just a superficial worship on Sunday mornings, but a worship through the offering of one’s life. I began learning to take up my cross and crucify my flesh in order to be sanctified through the work of the Holy Spirit. I continued to learn about systematic theology and the Lord awoke a new passion in me to pursue His truth, not just intellectually, but practically as well, by applying His truth to my daily life.
It has been quite the journey so far with its own pitfalls, struggles, joys, and victories over sin. Every day I seek to live by the Spirit, in gratitude for Christ’s forgiveness of all of my sins, and even when I fail, I know that the Lord is my foundation and my bedrock. Joy and peace started to enter my life in a way it never had before. I stopped being numb to existence, and I became sensitive to sin. I seek to follow God’s law out of gratefulness, but I know it’s not the law that saves me. The eternal significance of Christ’s sacrifice is my ultimate hope, despite my fallen nature and the malevolence of the world around us, and I can’t wait for each new day as I venture forth down the narrow path. I hope to continue sharing my progress on that journey with others and being a light for Christ as I go.
June 2019 Update: It’s now been 15 months since that day, and this journey of faith has been one of the most difficult but rewarding experiences of my life. As I battled sin, lost sight of my purpose and joy, fell back and forth into depression, God continues to show me that His forgiveness is unending, and that His grace is sufficient for everything in my life. No matter what I’ve done or continue to struggle with, He is changing me from the inside and teaching me to walk by the Spirit. My reward is Him. He teaches me bit by bit to walk out on the water a little further, cling to Him in every moment, and keep my eyes on Him longer than I ever did before. The further I walk, the more I realize I need Him. I love Jesus Christ, He is my Lord. I’m thrilled to obey Him by being baptized this Sunday.
“’Return home and tell how much God has done for you.’ So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.”Luke 8:39 NIV