I’m excited to have the opportunity to share my God story while Veronica is away at her honeymoon. She is having such a wonderful time in her life right now, and I’m extremely happy for her. I'm excited to share a story about how God has done great things in my life with Veronica's readers!
I’ll begin my story a little fast paced, and then slow down to talk about how God has worked in my life through my college years. When I was seven years old, I accepted Jesus into my life one night by myself. As I was lying in my bed and thinking, I just knew it was something I needed to do. I had grown up around church all my life, but that was the night I made the decision for myself that I believed that Jesus was God’s son, and that he died for all the people in the world. After that, I grew older, and was tempted by friends at school to do things that I knew in my heart did not honor God. Eventually, my heart was hardened to not realize the conviction I felt about the things I had done or said. However, when I was thirteen years old at camp, I realized that I had allowed my commitment to grow cold, and that I was not keeping my end of the deal. I wanted to uphold that, and to follow the plans God had for my life.
This time was a life-changing event. My decision at thirteen to follow God’s will instead of mine truly set in stone the act of believing I had made when I was seven. I changed my outlook of life, which ultimately changed my life. The next five years were some of the most fun times I can remember, and I made a lot of friends at my church youth group. During my high school years, I tried to follow God to the best of my abilities. One way of doing that was to read my Bible, and other ways of doing that was listening to my mentors. I believe both are essential to learn to live for God. One thing I have learned through some bad experiences are that you can’t always just trust your mentors OR yourself. You must constantly keep yourself in check for several things. If you believe God is telling you to do something, I believe every person should ask these questions:
1. Am I doing this for my own gratification?
2. Am I doing this to please someone else, or to make them think well of me?
3. If I do this, will I gain rewards from a mentor?
4. Will I FEEL as if I am a better Christian than others due to my decision?
5. Is this truly in line with the will of God, which is laid out in the Bible?
6. Am I using a verse out of context to use it for what I, or others, want me to do? (Col. 2:8)
If I had asked myself and honestly answered these questions, I believe I could have saved myself a lot of heartache during my high school years. But, I didn’t. During this time, I tried to live for God as radically as I could. Anything I was asked to do, or could think of to do, that would make me appear or feel closer to God, I wanted to do. I also wanted to do anything that would make me more like leadership in my life. I made commitments that I know for a fact were not really commitments to God, but commitments to those around me that I thought made me look better, and often times look more like them.
Needless to say, I later learned the hard way the consequences of trying to please others instead of God, and also the consequences of those decisions I made while trying to be a higher “standard” of Christian, while I should have just stuck to what the Bible says. The summer after my senior year, my close-knit youth group that I had become accustomed to, and which I tried with all my might to please, fell apart. People I thought would be lifelong friends, it turned out, would leave in a heartbeat if I made a decision that was not in line with their view. This entire mess was a jumble of my own stubborn pride, thinking that somehow I could work and decide my way into the favor of God, as well as a leadership that encouraged this lifestyle. While this was one of the most painful times of my life, with feelings of loneliness, betrayal and much confusion about what it meant to truly live for Christ, He has ultimately turned this sad situation around.
Since coming to college, God has changed my views about what it means to live for Him. I have learned the importance of forgiveness, even when you have no idea how you can be capable of forgiving. And, as I say this, we are not capable of truly forgiving on our own, and only through Christ’s power in our own heart are we capable of this action. I have also learned the importance of this balance in life: trust and knowledge. My biggest struggle since my “event” happened is trusting others. The last time I trusted a group of people, I learned how truly painful it could be. So, learning to trust God that he causes things to happen for a reason, and learning to trust others is very important. As I say this, knowledge is equally important. If one is to trust without knowing what they trust, they may trust something that is not credible. Checking everything you believe, and everything a mentor tells you with God’s word is essential to knowledge and trust.
As I have told you the things I have learned from my tough situation, I would like to also tell you how God changed my life from miserable to merry. As I said, my freshman year I was quite lonely. Especially the first semester. This is a normal aspect of going to college, however intensified by the loss of my friends in the youth-group. I decided to trust God, and attend a weekly Bible study for freshmen. While I did not enjoy going, God ultimately gave me the gift of meeting many wonderful new friends, many of whom I met through Veronica, as well as the man who would later be my fiancé. :)
What have I learned?
1. I firstly learned the importance of trusting God through hard times.
2. I then learned the consequences of our own and others’ sin that affects all of our lives.
3. I have learned the power of forgiveness in changing our heart, and allowing it to be closer to God.
4. I have seen firsthand God’s faithfulness in the lives of His children, whom he loves, and how through difficult events, he shapes us to someone he wants us to be.
5. I have learned to not look at life as levels of closeness to God that I can achieve by my actions, but to view my actions as a result of the unconditional love God has for me, in the midst of my mistakes.
I hope that one day my testimony can be an encouragement for others who have experienced similar situations, and an encouragement to rely on God’s faithfulness. I also hope for those who believe in Christ to be careful to assess situations, and check all of YOUR beliefs and beliefs that others teach you with the true word of God.
Verses that Got me Through:
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. -Ecclesiastes 3:11
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. -Colossians 2:8
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. -1 Peter 5:6
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and truth. -1 John 3:18