Thursday, October 21, 2004

My Story

It seems like a good idea to start by telling you how I came to have a relationship with the Lord.

For all intents and purposes I was born and raised in the Christian church. I wasn’t really exposed to other religions; I was just expected to be a Christian. Growing up I was spoon-fed all of those famous Bible stories that everybody learns, but to me they were only stories. Church on Sunday morning was required with no exceptions made. I had decided to devote my life God probably 40 different times. As a youth every time a motivational preacher spoke at church camp I would re-commit my life to Jesus, but I never truly gave Him a chance. I watched the people I went to church with and saw most of them as phonies: they professed that they loved God, but they gossiped about others and, in my eyes, never did anything that proved to me they had God leading their life. I eventually rebelled against God, the Church, and those closest to me. I moved far away to go to school and to live the life I wanted to live. I was involved in partying and drinking and a lot of other things I thought would bring me happiness. However, while all this was going on I would often sense a voice, which I later realized was God Himself, in the back of my head saying, “Ryan, I’m still here waiting for you.” But I would put him off because I didn’t want to follow; I was having too much fun, or what I thought was fun. Soon I began to realize that the void inside of me I kept trying to fill with alcohol and partying, was not being filled. At the same time those who I later realized were my true friends were starting to invite me to church events, but I turned them down most of the time.

Eventually, through the efforts of my persistent friends I began to go to some of these events. I began to see a different type of lifestyle; a lifestyle of someone who obviously had God in their life. A lifestyle of someone who didn’t have to worry about the same things I did because they had God in their life and they knew He would take care of them. I decided that was what I wanted too. I also wanted to make sure that Christianity was the true religion, I mean; eternity is a long time to be wrong. So I started investigating all the different religions; reading their books and listening to their teachings. What I found was all of them either contradicted themselves, or just didn’t view reality the same way that I did. Being a Christian made so much sense. It explained why I felt the way I felt and did the things that I did. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t find a way to disprove it. I finally realized that a relationship with Jesus Christ was necessary for me to go to heaven. I then asked Jesus to come into my life for the 41st time, but for the first time I truly meant it. The Lord had brought me to a place in my life where I truly understood that I was separated from God because I am a sinner; that is, I have done things that I knew were wrong. And as a sinner it is impossible for me to be with a holy and pure God. But God sent Jesus, who lived a perfect life, to die on the cross so that my sins could be forgiven. See, the Bible says that no one comes to God except through Jesus. I then knew that I really wanted him as my personal Savior and best friend. I then confirmed my decision by deciding to become baptized. To me being baptized was a way to show people that I was serious about giving my life to and living only for Jesus Christ. It was a very powerful moment in my life that I’ll never forget.

Because of my decision to follow Christ, I made a commitment that has changed my life. I committed to God that I would obey and follow Him wherever he leads. He answered in a way that I never would have anticipated. God allowed several unexpected and very difficult events to happen in my life that left me wondering where God was. Relationships ended, jobs changed, loved ones died, and I moved. However, I now realize that God had allowed those events to happen, to help solidify my faith in Him. I can now look back and see that He has used every one of those events for his glory. Even though I may not know why things happen, I do know that God loves me more than anything and always has my best interest at the front of his mind.

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