It’s hard to fully articulate how drastically God has changed my life. People I knew just a few years ago wouldn’t recognize me in appearance or personality today. I was a deeply lost and broken person; I shaped my value and identity around what others thought of me; I relied heavily on worldly escapes to occupy my time; and, I actively resisted the pull of the Holy Spirit for years. However, the Lord has recently moved in me despite all of my reluctance and sin.
I could not have asked to be brought up in a more wholesome and spiritually enriching environment. Biblical values and a relational pursuit of Christ were the pillars of our family life. However, with all of the good things that my upbringing yielded, there were weak spots in my foundation. Looking back, I recognize my early inability to fully comprehend what being a Christ follower actually meant. I followed Jesus and I avoided sin, but I did those things before I could truly understand why. From that, I became apathetic and indifferent to the good news of the gospel, which ultimately led me to stop listening. Finally, I grew into long lasting cycles of sin and fully embraced a worldly lifestyle. What started as me occasionally sinning grew into me embracing it as I began to believe the devil’s lies.
Much like the parable of the man who built his house on unsteady ground, when I grew old enough to make my way into the world, my upbringing and foundation crumbled. I clung to a worldly lifestyle and drifted far from Christ. For the majority of my adult life I have sought acceptance from the world; I have been addicted to numerous vices; and, I have felt as if I hit rock bottom a multitude of times. This draining cycle persisted for a number of years and reached its culmination near the end of my college career when I began to feel the full weight of my sinful lifestyle. I felt empty and lost; I felt like the prior years had been a waste, like I had squandered many years of my youth; and, when I looked to the future, I felt overwhelming hopelessness at the prospect staying the way I was. So, in an effort to repair my own damage, I sought more worldly solutions and looked within.
As if the pursuit of worldly acceptance could resolve my brokenness, I began to seek self-improvement by sheer force of human will. I attributed much of my unhappiness to my looks and my habits. So, I set a goal to do whatever I could to change them. I poured myself into a routine, work life, and self-improvement. But, in many ways, I was caving in on myself.
A revelation came to me when I finally achieved and surpassed my lofty goals. I was still lost; and my goals had merely become my escape mechanisms.
It was around this time that I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit for the first time since my youth. It all came about very unintentionally, and while my mentality of resistance to all things from the Holy Spirit persisted, God used some simple messages to wake me. After years of brokenness, the Cornerstone “Story” course and a few weekly sermons brought about profound change in my life. I remembered what it felt like to have the Holy Spirit move in me. It was like I had known the feeling all along, like I had never forgotten. The scales fell from my eyes just as they did Paul’s. I realized all the goals and worldly desires from my past had been very intentional distractions from living the life that God had destined for me. I praise God every day for this revelation. I now live in the comfort of knowing that the Lord has plans to prosper me both in this life and eternity. Where there used to be hopelessness, I now feel a sense of Joy as I approach the future knowing that the Lord is my Shepherd.
Finally, I would like to remind you of the welcome that the prodigal son received upon returning home. The Lord saw me from a long way off and did more than I could ever describe to run out and meet me. Through the Lord, my broken pieces are being repaired and I’m embracing the opportunities that He has set out for me. I am astounded by God’s mercy every day. All the Glory goes to Him.