The journey to earnest faith is very personal. Everyone has specific circumstances that leave them searching for something bigger; something meaningful; something stable.
For me—when I reached the point of conversion—I had a sense of being lost at sea. I had made decisions in direct conflict with the Christian faith of my parents and was experiencing consequences. The guilt, the pain… it was a significant burden.
Faith in God—particularly one based in religion—provides the feeling of a compelling, objective standard. Having a stark contrast between right and wrong gives direction and security to the rudderless.
And that’s where I was. Adrift in life. In need of a savior.
But then, like a gust of wind in my sails, I had confidence that the creator of the universe had a plan for my life.
One of the uncomfortable conditions I regularly observed (and experienced) as a Christian is the sudden expertism of life that quickly emerges. One moment I felt lost and overwhelmed. The next, I had unlocked the most significant mystery of the universe.
It’s quite a transformation. But it’s understandable considering that the Christian journey begins with the revelation of both the identity of God and the meaning of life. Whether you’re in third grade or in a retirement home: that’s step one.
A microcosm of this condition is observed in Christian circles when kids return from summer church camp. One minute little Jane is your average high school student, but upon her return, she is on fire for the Lord and wants to tell everyone that Jesus is the answer to all the questions.
My transformation as a young adult was quite similar.
I was raised in a loving, Christian home. That being said, it was far from traditional.
I went to Catholic school, but attended bible study with Pentecostals. We went to mass on Sundays, but also revivals where I saw my parents “speak in tongues”.
By the time I graduated from high school I had experienced a diverse collection of Christian traditions. Most of my friends considered me at least somewhat religious, if not annoyingly pious. And while I embraced the morality my parents had imparted, the truth was that I had never devoted much critical thought to the Christian faith.
That all changed when I left home for university. I attended a large school in the heart of the bible belt… and this was a cultural shift that rocked my world.
Meeting people my age with a vocal and visible passion for God was a bombshell. They conversed in ways I had only heard grown-ups speak. They talked about Jesus like he was there with us.
Inevitably, I was invited to a bible study.
“Why wouldn’t I go?” I thought. “I’m a Christian too, right?”
But I really hadn’t ever chosen that for myself. It wasn’t that I had chosen something else, I just thought of it as something adults concerned themselves with. The truth is, being a Christian was just sort of my default position.
That first bible study was a mixed bag. Initially, I felt defensive and feared judgment. While I had charted the waters of many Christian experiences, I was unfamiliar with Evangelical Christianity. I didn’t know the lingo. Didn’t know what a quiet time was. Had never heard the term backsliding. But there was no denying it was a revelation to have a conversation about God with a peer versus an authority figure.
Even so, I did my best to avoid these Christians and their invitations. They were nice enough, but when they were around there was a sense of driving through life with the cops in the rear view mirror.
The seed was planted, though. It didn’t blossom overnight, but the more I made choices that conflicted with my upbringing, the more I felt burdened with guilt and a need for forgiveness. I felt the desire for significance and a deeper purpose for who I was becoming.
This was a crossroads of life. My story could have gone in many directions. But the turn I made was toward faith.
One night, alone in my dorm, I was looking for redemption. I needed a fresh start.
I found it in Jesus. I found it in faith. That night I invited Jesus into my heart and accepted him as lord and savior.
Undoubtedly, it was an awakening. Jesus cared about me personally, he understood my struggles and had paid the debt of my sins. A debt he didn’t owe, so I could have the eternal life I didn’t deserve. It was a story I embraced with open arms because, more than anything else, life now made sense. Life now had meaning.
Life was bigger than just me.