I grew up in a large, mostly Christian family. As the youngest child, I felt lost in the crowd and so I desired all the love and attention that I could get. Through high school I did all the right and good things, and my family loved me. There were a few times that I had made professions of faith, but always for somebody else’s honor.Once in college and in the Navy, away from family, I decided to try all sorts of immoral activities (according to my family’s standards) in search of the good life. I was into heavy drinking and smoking. One thing I maintained was the image of a good “Christian” boy that went to church almost every Sunday. The only reason for this, again, was for everyone else’s satisfaction.In 1988, the Lord began to shake up my 22-year old world to get my attention, but I ran in the other direction. He had me expediently and honorably discharged from the Navy. I then determined to run my life my way and sensed a void in my life that I had to fill my way. I tried anything. The only qualifications were that it had to satisfy me and I wouldn’t care about anyone else’s opinions.
As I continued my search, I sunk deeper into corruption and despair. At the same time, I continued to straddle the fence of good and bad. It came to a point where I had made an attempt to escape from this world because I no longer felt in control, but the Lord had other plans.
In August of ’88, after discussions with my pastor and his praying, God showed me that I could only be a Christian for Him alone and not for everyone else. I surrendered my life totally to Jesus Christ and begged Him to rid my life immediately of all the chaos I had accumulated.
The Lord chose a slower route, though. First, He moved me away from my parents in North Dakota to a job in Maryland. It was there that I realized that He wanted me to live the Christian faith only for Him. The Lord planted me in a nurturing church where I was spiritually challenged onto higher plains.
Shortly after that first year, I became confident in my Walk, became lackadaisical with the Walk, and the Lord began to challenge my seriousness with the Walk. He removed me from my comforts. He allowed me to enter into some situations where I followed my own desires and not His. I thought I was doing OK handling temptations my way; but God knew the wiser, and sent in some hounds-of-heaven to challenge me back because I wouldn’t listen to Him. The lesson He taught me was that in order to overcome those temptations, instead of succumbing, I had the power to flee to His open arms.
Through many battles and many victories, God has shown me that my initial intention of immediate cleansing of the past was not His slower best. Part of His redemption was His peeling away the scarred tissue from a calloused heart so I could feel and hear the Holy Spirit. I am forever grateful to the God who offers second chances!
After four years with God along the journey, He called me from a career with Coca-Cola on to a new path to seek His will in my life for missions. I left that job and followed His calling to seek out a college to finish my bachelor’s degree. Through His process of elimination, I applied and was accepted into the Missions program at Columbia Bible College in South Carolina.
During the year after leaving the career, He supplied me with temporary job assignments to keep the bills up-to-date. He showed me a new love for mission projects sending me into cross-cultural areas to challenge my comfort zones.
In these past five years, the Lord has given me a greater peace of seeking His satisfaction and His glory. He has shown me that the life I had chosen for myself was out of stubbornness and for attention. I felt that I had been good for so long that people expected me to be good and I thought they never took notice of me. Thankfully, though, the Lord did and He challenged me to come follow Him. I truly have greater joy in knowing that it is He alone that I serve.