In my twenty-one years of life I’ve never been far from Christianity, though I have been far from Christ. I came to Jesus at the age of four in response to a Gospel presentation, on Halloween Night interestingly enough. My dad was a seminary student at the time, eventually becoming an ordained pastor, and my mother was actively involved in the church.
Despite an upbringing full of Wednesday Night Potlucks, Vacation Bible School, and Missions Trips, my teenage years found me running away from God. During this time, my family went through several trying circumstances: from a sister born with cerebral palsy, to a fire which destroyed much of our home’s interior, and everything else in between. At this point my family was simply trying to make ends meet. To my shame, I reacted with selfishness, trying to fill voids in my life with all sorts of distractions. I quickly became restless, anxious, and argumentative. I was desperate to leave home and, I thought, my troubles behind. Although on the outside I kept up appearances, my journals from the time scream of dissatisfaction.
The day I set foot on my college campus, specifically chosen because it was the farthest away from my parents, I remember a sinking feeling of loneliness. Despite my big talk, I was more helpless than ever. By the grace of God, I didn’t use college as an excuse to check out of church. I began attending Grace Community, a local home church, and received sold instruction in the Word. My freshman roommate, one of the most devout believers I’ve ever met, greatly encouraged me in my spiritual walk. College life became fun, exciting, and challenging. Jesus Christ truly became my Friend, my Fortress, and my Comforter.
The first two years of college were, really, a primer for my semester abroad in Scotland. Not that Scotland, in of itself, was essential to my salvation but, rather, the lessons God taught me through people and experiences was the catalyst for my growth. Even before I stepped on the plane, I earnestly prayed for God to use the experience to draw me closer.
Now, having returned from my travels, I can truly see a change in myself. My semester abroad acted as a marker for my spiritual rededication. I find that I crave time with the Lord, as opposed to running from His presence. I love Sundays, whereas before I made excuses to duck out of church. I am anxious to pray about any situation, and in the past I rarely spoke with the Father. My church family, Grace Community, has quickly become a huge source of instruction, challenge, and encouragement. In many ways, it’s the first congregation were I have felt a deep sense of Christian unity. The Christian community on my college campus, too, has become far richer than ever before.
Today, I stand amazed and eternally thankful that the Lord never abandoned me. The amazing thing about grace is that we never have, never could, and never will deserve it. Then again, that is the Lord’s work: glorifying Himself through His children. I believe that every experience in my life, though I never would have imagined, has brought me to this exact point of belief. I can’t wait to see how God might use the next twenty-one years to glorify His name, that I might enjoy Him forever.
“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9