When I was 10 years old, I spoke at my grandfather’s funeral. I spent the entire speech trying to explain how much I loved my grandfather and how confused I was that he was, all of a sudden, gone. When I was in 7th grade, I started drinking and doing drugs because I was struggling with severe depression. I couldn’t find meaning or purpose, which drove me to drink more. By the time I reached high school, I had been to 4 different counselors trying to answer the same exact questions.
Why am I here?
Why was I born into this world?
I write these things not so that people feel bad for me. I write these things because God put these things on my heart from a very young age. Becoming a Christian for me was not easy. It took tears, death, and redemption.
I grew up in a culturally Jewish home, which basically meant that we celebrated the major holidays and enjoyed matzo ball soup about once a month. I had no idea what it meant to be Jewish in the Old Testament way.
My first day of college I met a guy named Paul Poteat, who left a note on my desk wondering if I wanted to grab something to eat sometime. For the next four school years, God used Paul to answer every question I could possibly think of. Paul provided answers to the questions I had been asking since I was a kid. He told me about Jesus and sin and why and how Jesus could heal my fractured and sinful heart, mind, and soul.
God continued to surround me with Christians. In the best way possible, I couldn’t get away from them. But, like Pharaoh of the Egyptians before me, my heart would not soften towards God and the gospel.
The summer going into my senior year of college, I began dating my wife, Stephanie, who was a Christian at the time — I was not a Christian at this point (note: we don’t encourage this). Once again, God used another person in my life as a reflection tool to point to him. There were three different ways in which Stephanie challenged my sinful heart where no one else could. First, I was interested in her and I couldn’t figure out why she actually believed. Second, she started bringing me to church and I went (see the interested part in number one). Third, she was sure that I would become a Christian.
I cannot tell you when I actually became a Christian, but Stephanie and I both remember a point in time when we were washing dishes during our senior years of college and I turned to her and said, “You know, I might actually be starting to believe this Christianity thing.” She just looked at me, smiled, and continued drying the dishes.
From there, my heart exploded with love for God and his story of redemption in his Son. I devoured C.S. Lewis books, mourned over my family not being believers, and told many of my bewildered friends about God’s love.
Now I realize that everything in my life was and is preparing me to be more like Christ. I see my sin on a daily basis, I repent, and continue to believe that the God of the universe sent his Son into this world to die and rise again for our sins. As I grow in my faith, I continue to see my depravity and just how little I have to offer God, which drives me to be amazed by the love of Jesus.
This C.S. Lewis quote says it best:
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” (Mere Christianity)