Being born into a strong Christian family, I had special opportunities that many did not have. I had a strong Christian model in both of my parents and for the most part lived a Christian life myself even before being saved. At the age of 5, I was brought to the realization by the convicting of the Holy Spirit that I was a sinner and that by myself, I would not be able to pay for the debt of sin I owed. Due to fear of being in the public eye and of water, I fought that realization because acting on it meant that I would need to publicly profess my belief and follow the Lord in Baptism, two things that I feared a great deal (water, and being in front of others). My parents constantly encouraged me and told me that it was ok, that I could do this. But I let fear rule my life for two whole years. Finally, in 1988, we had a week long tent revival at our church. It was December 4th, 1988 a Sunday, the last day of the revival. All week long I fought the conviction to step out and walk the aisle and accept Jesus as my Lord. Finally, I was fighting God and it was as if I heard Him say to me, “If you don’t do this today, you never will.” And my fear of hell won out over my fear of water and the public eye and I slipped out of my seat and walked forward, my father following me. I told my pastor what I had come to do, and he and my father prayed with me to surrender my life unconditionally to Christ. That was a day and a decision that I have never regretted and never will.
In the years that have gone by since then I continued to struggle with doubt and sin as I tried to understand the next step of my new found faith - growth. I would listen to others share their testimony and how they thought they were saved but really were not and fear began to creep into my heart... what if that was true of me as well? I prayed many times to "make sure my faith", but it was my mother who set things straight for me one day. She simply shared with me the truth of Scripture that growth is proof of life. That if I would focus on growing in Christ then my growth or lack thereof would prove my position in Christ. As I began seeking greater "maturity" I began a whole new struggle... how does one grow? At first I figured it was about morality, after all, the church was always harping about that pesky little detail. I worked very hard to be a good person as the Bible taught me to be, but I soon realized that while morality was very important and valuable to the believer, it wasn't the same as maturity. Then I thought it must be about knowledge, so I studied. I studied doctrine, and memorized Scripture, and learned all kinds of "principles of truth" from all kinds of great teachers. Again, I realized that while knowing truth was valuable and important to the believer, it was not the same as maturity. I thought I had finally struck gold when I thought that service and evangelism was the key to maturity. I witnessed to hundreds of people (and even lead many to Christ), and taught Sunday School, worked as a youth director, went on mission trips... I was bold and involved in everything. I learned that that too was not the prize for which I sought. I am not sure how I came to realize the truth of my plight, but somewhere in the darkness that came after all that failure, I returned to Saint Louis and began contemplating my failure, and I even questioned if it was all real. Then, like the small voice in the story of Scripture, I slowly began to understand. God values morality, knowledge, and service but what He created me for was fellowship with Himself - it was intimacy that my soul craved, intimacy with Him. I realized that if I lose myself in the person of Jesus Christ, I will find myself changed.
Despite my strong upbringing, father was a pastor and mother a Biblical counselor, I fell into addictive sins as a teenager and was able to keep them hidden from everyone... but not from God. One night while driving home from work, I was praying for help with some recent cloud taking up residence in my mind when the Lord interrupted me mid-sentence, I felt like he had grabbed me by the back of the neck and pushed me down in my seat. "I will not help you with anything until you confess your sin to your parents", He said to me. That night when I got home I shared with my mother about my struggle. It was possibly the hardest thing I ever had to do, but with that confession I felt freedom. I did not experience victory immediately, but over time, God showed me others who struggled and who helped me bare my soul and bear my burden as brothers so often do. Victory from my addiction came with time, and the struggle never leaves, but the power to do right and the freedom to walk with my God and fellow man with transparency is like nothing else. If you have never experienced the life changing power of God through Christ Jesus, I encourage you to seek Him, as I did. And as He promises, you will find Him, as I did.