Friday, February 7, 2020

How God Changed My Life

Most of you know me as very religious and spiritual.  A devout Christian.  But I haven't always been like this. 

I grew up in a Christian home.  My parents brought me to church every Sunday and modeled the faith for me.  They were wonderful parents.  But when I was eleven years old we moved to Youngsville, and I started a new school -- Youngsville Middle School.  It didn't take long for me to pick up on the attitudes and behavioral patterns of the other kids.  I stopped caring about my grades.  I was disrespectful in class.  I was getting in fights.  I had a very dirty mouth.  I was experimenting with smoking.  I was able to hide most of this from my parents and church family.  I was a hypocrite.  I was headed down the wrong path, and fast. 

Then everything changed.  Everything.  The summer after fifth grade I went to church camp, just like every summer before.  The speaker's name was John Yates, a Christian ventriloquist.  One evening during the worship service as John was preaching and singing God touched my heart.  I was weeping uncontrollably.  I knew I was a horrible sinner, and that I needed Christ.  I knew I hadn't been living for God.  That night I committed my life to Jesus Christ.  I already believed in Jesus -- everyone I knew believed in Jesus -- but that night I surrendered my life to Christ.  I devoted myself to Him fully -- to love Him, serve Him, and glorify Him with my life. 

That night my life was instantly and forever changed.  Radically. Everything about me changed over night.  When I went home from camp I was a completely different person.  The first thing I remember was that I stopped cursing immediately.  I had a girlfriend at the time, and when I got home from camp I called to talk to her.  Her mouth was so filthy I hung up on her.  She immediately called me back and broke up on me.  My tastes had completely changed.  Hers had not.

The second thing I remember was that it became very important to me to honor my parents.  To respect and obey them.  I started seeing my parents in a different light -- they were wise, loving, and godly.  I was so grateful to have loving Christian parents.  Gradually my parents became my best friends; my closest confidants.

The third change that happened to me was that my outlook on school radically changed.  I could see how important it was.  I knew I needed to do my best to the glory of God.  When I went back to school that August, I went from just barely getting by to become a top student in my school -- all the way through middle and high school.  My parents no longer had to push me, or to hold me accountable, or even to help me be responsible with my school work.  I was on top of it from then on.

The fourth change that happened to me was that I had an instant hunger for God's word.  I had grown up around the Bible.  I owned several Bibles.  But never before did I have the desire to pick it up and read and study it on my own.  That changed when I got home from camp.  I told my parents I really wanted to know God's word, so they immediately bought me a new NIV Student Bible, and I started reading, highlighting, and marking it up on a daily basis.  I remember reading it every night before bed.  The Bible came alive to me like never before.  It was like it had been written just for me.  I could understand it.  I loved it.  I wanted to obey it.  I started bringing my Bible to school every day and carrying it to class. 

The fifth change that happened to me was that I wanted to serve God.  I felt called to serve God.  I just knew that was why I existed.  Not to serve myself.  Not for fun and games.  I didn't stop laughing and having fun, but I became a very serious young man.  I had a holy ambition to reach my friends and classmates for Christ.  I started wearing Christ t-shirts every day as conversation starters, and I started sharing Christ with my friends and inviting them to church.  I wanted everyone to experience God's power and love just as I had. 

The summer after fifth grade, God radically changed my life.  In an instant.  Forever.  He loved me even though I was a sinner.  He embraced me and cleaned me up.  He gave me a new life.  He changed my outlook, my tastes, my desires, my ambitions, my focus, my everything. 

That is my prayer for everyone I meet.  I so want you to experience the love and power of Christ.  He can change your life.  He can clean you up.  He can give you abundant life.  He can change everything about you for the better.  He is calling you even now as you read these words.  Stop running from God.  Accept Christ into your life as Savior and King.  Let Him rule.  Let Him have His way.  It's the best thing that will ever happen to you. 
"Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling; calling for you and for me.  Patiently Jesus is waiting and watching; watching for you and for me!  Come home!  Come home!  Ye who are weary, come home!  Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling; calling, O sinner, come home!"

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