I grew up in a protestant Christian home. Very similar to most Americans I think. My family and I viewed Christianity as a set of morals that stood in accordance with our conservative political view. When I was little, my family attended church every Sunday. Also on special occasions we would hold hands and my dad would say grace before we ate dinner. It was during this time that I prayed to receive the Lord because I was afraid of going to hell. But I never really enjoyed church; I hated standing up and singing and felt that the sermons were rather boring. After a few years, when I was 8 or 9, my family gradually stopped going to church, with the exception of Easter. Nevertheless, growing up I always had the assurance that God existed, and that I was saved for eternity. Thus the only matter left for me to attend to was pursuing a life of happiness until I die.
I found joy and pleasure in many things. I liked math and science in school, football and snowboarding as recreations, and trying whatever I thought would make me happy. Sinful or not, I didn’t care, I just wanted to do things that would make life enjoyable. When I was younger I occasionally prayed out of distress. But from the time I was 10, I stopped praying and had no desire to be with “church people” because they seemed dull. Despite my lack of seeking, the Lord had predestinated me and at 17 years old began to attest of my need for him. First through a group called Young Life, the Lord began to show me how powerful he was through other’s testimonies.
Then I began to read the bible the summer before college.
When I met the Christian Students Association at UW, my whole life changed. At one meeting we sang a hymn, “What made you die for me?” One stanza goes:
You loved me, Lord, so very long;
And with a love enduring and strong.
Although I mocked and cursed You so long,
You waited and prayed for me all along.
The Lord stopped me from my old life, not by forcing any rules upon me, but by showing me his great, unchanging love for me even when I mocked him, cursed him, and rebelled against him. He cared so much. He exchanged his sinless life for mine, that of an evil, selfish, man of sin. And then faithfully waited and prayed for me for all those years until I finally opened my heart to Him.
It was at CSA that I saw what being a Christian really was. The believers here were different, because they truly loved the Lord and gave everything they had for the Lord’s interest. This expression of Christ being lived out caused me to see how shallow and corrupted my understanding of what a Christian was. I thought being Christian was following a moral code, now I realize its Christ living in us. Through the Word, fellowship, Spirit, and prayer the Lord has shown me so much. All the things I enjoyed before always left me still feeling so empty. But enjoying Christ has never left me unsatisfied, as the Lord has promised us, “whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall by no means thirst forever” (John 4:14) He doesn’t want us to enjoy ourselves until we go to heaven but to enjoy HIMSELF by calling on his name and feeding on his Word until He makes his home in our hearts and we become his fullness, expression and counterpart as the New Jerusalem.