It only seems like a few short years ago I was in High school. I can’t believe its been 17 years.
A friend told me recently that young men look forward to what they are going to do while old men look backwards. At a ripe 34 years old I don’t think I can call myself old yet, but recently Jennifer and I spent some time reminiscing about our spiritual walk in High School and how that formed us today.
What brought our conversation forward was well, Facebook. Yes I know, Facebook is the center spoke of gossip.
We had been talking about how so many people we knew both in high school and college that had either turned away from faith or hold to a faith that doesn’t resemble the orthodox faith that they were raised in.
Jennifer asked me, why are we different? Why are all our friends changing their views about what the bible teaches or falling away all together.
I told her that I was raised in a church where the bible was taught. I knew that my pastor would stand up weekly and teach us what Scripture says. I knew that my youth pastor invested in me and challenged me to live for Jesus.
Why did I end up staying in the faith where many of my friends did not?
For me, my passion for God and love of scripture may have been rooted from my family and church, but it was formed by God’s hand radically working in my life. There was no program, no attraction, no camp or sermon that changed my life.
My life was changed when God shook me at the age of 15 years old. God stripped me of all that I valued. On my first day of my sophomore year of High School I showed up to find that I did not share a class, a lunch or a free time with anyone that I knew. I remember going home to my parents and crying. For me, friends were my idol and my idol was gone.
My dad encouraged me that evening to take my bible with me to school and read it during lunch.
Growing up in church I had lots of bibles, but on my own time it was just a boring old book my parents kept buying me. Truthfully, I loved going to youth events. They were fun. I sat through sermons that I thought were a bit boring. Christianity to me was something that was encouraged, but it was not my own.
I took my bible to school the next day. Not knowing where to start, I started at the beginning. Genesis 1:1. All of a sudden something radical happened. That boring old book came alive. I soaked up the story like it was water on a hot summer afternoon. Before I knew it the bell rang and lunch was over. Where did the time go?
Every day I brought my Bible with me. Christianity became more than a label to me, it became a lifestyle. Every chance I got I read scripture. I wore tacky orange stickers that said turn or burn. I became defined not by friends or my hobbies. I was defined by Jesus Christ. I shared with anyone who would listen of what God had done in me.
When I went to church, those boring sermons came alive. I wanted to hear what God had to say. When my youth pastor invested in me, it was more than some old guy meddling in my life it was a mentor who helped mold me.
I still have my bible, THAT bible which God used to change EVERYTHING for me. My church didn’t change me. My parents didn’t change me. God changed me.
As Jennifer and I look forward with our girls, we want more than anything for them to grow up to love Jesus. We know though that unless God works in their life then all our work will be in vain.
As I lead our church, I ask the same question. What can I do for our kids? What can I do for our youth? What can I do to lead our church to love Jesus whole heartedly? With a great amount of humility I have to admit that it is God who wakens the heart not me. My job is simply to plough and plant truth for our people so that when God works they will have a foundation to build upon.
When Jennifer asked me why we are different, my response was simple, God worked in our lives.