I grew up under the assumption that I was a Christian because I went to Catholic school from first to eighth grade. I had no desire to know or serve God, and I sought after my own glory and security through excelling in academics and sports. I thought that I was an overall good person because of my manners, accomplishments, and reputation. Although I knew that much of what I did was wrong, I did not realize that ALL I did was sin before God due to my sinful heart and lack of desire or ability to do anything for God’s glory (see Isaiah 64:6). I was honestly in love with and enslaved to my sin, including pride, lust, dishonoring my parents…you name it (see John 8:34).
In high school, a girl on my volleyball team befriended me and eventually shared her testimony with me. I was particularly struck by the idea that it is possible to have a relationship with God. I was also shocked to read the Bible verse on her bedroom wall that said, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19). A few days later I experienced a night of painful introspection during which time God allowed me to see that my life up to that point had been completely meaningless and empty. After opening my mostly unread Bible and reading Psalm 69, I wrote a letter to my friend asking her to share more with me about God because I knew that something was not right. She gladly shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with me on our way to a volleyball game.
This was the first time that I can remember hearing that God is holy, that my sin had offended Him and separated me from Him, and that He had to punish my sin (Romans 6:23). I deserved hell, God’s eternal wrath for my multitudes of sin (Psalm 5:4-5). She then told me that God sent His Son Jesus to earth to live the perfect, sinless life in my place, and to die a substitutionary death in my place. He bore MY sin and suffered under God’s just wrath and punishment for MY sin on the cross (1Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:10). She shared this verse with me: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God…” – 1Peter 3:18. And she told me that Jesus rose from the dead in victory, proving His claims to be God and showing that His sacrifice for my sin was completely accepted by God the Father. I learned that I needed to turn from my sin and trust in Jesus to be forgiven and given eternal life with God (Mark 1:15). I could not perform enough “good works” to work my way into heaven. I could only fling my wretched and depraved self upon the spotless Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me (Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 2:8-9). That night, I prayed and asked God to save me through His Son Jesus.
God has pursued me, changed my heart, and given me new life in His Son, for which I am inexpressably thankful. I now hate the things I once loved, and love the things (or the One) I once hated. He has placed me around some of the most amazing people I have ever known, fellow unworthy slaves of our Savior, Lord, and great Treasure: Jesus. I am still overwhelmed with awe that because of God’s great mercy and rich love, I get to know and worship God forever as His beloved child!
I more increasingly desire to live out the sentiments of these three verses that have particularly gripped my heart in an immense way since I have become a Christian:
“Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
– Psalm 73:25-26
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
– Philippians 1:21
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”
– 1Corinthians 15:10