Joe, 24, Texas, USA
I grew up in the church, but for a long time, I didn’t understand the importance of church, let alone the Bible. I went through the motions. I tried to keep the traditions and rituals that I had been taught, but I felt lost and hopeless. I was a sinner…I was angry, I disobeyed, and I lied. I knew God was displeased with these sins. I was only 8, but I was already beginning to wonder about death and eternity. I knew I wasn’t good enough to get into Heaven on my own. I figured I needed something more.
My parents encouraged me to read the Bible, so I tried, but it didn’t really make much sense to me. I was fascinated by the stories I read about Jesus, but I didn’t understand what it meant to “believe in Jesus.” I also wondered whether my prayers were being heard. Still, every night, I thought about Hell, God, and salvation. One night, confused and worried, I got out of bed, found a Bible, and turned to John chapter 3.
When I read verse 16, something in me shifted. The verse reads, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” In that moment, I understood that salvation comes through believing in Jesus. I turned from my sin and put my trust in Jesus Christ. In that moment, I had certainty that God had forgiven me and saved me from the wages of sin, which is death. In place of the worry and restlessness I felt, God gave me peace, purpose, and joy. All fear was replaced by the knowledge of His promises.
Though I now believed in Christ, I didn’t dedicate my life to Him; so, life was pretty much the same. Then, at age 13, I realized that God wanted more from me. So, I began to read the Bible and actually obey what it said. From ages 13 to 18, God matured me and I became determined to give as much of me as possible to Jesus. I started telling my friends and family about Jesus. My prayer life deepened and my mind began to more closely resemble that of Christ.
The last few years has been an incredible journey. I now serve as a pastor in a church in Dallas, Texas. I’m also working on a masters in theology. God has also granted me opportunities to travel to speak across the country. Along with working in my church, I create videos on Instagram and YouTube.
Following Jesus is the best decision I ever made. To those who don’t know Jesus, I encourage you to explore Scripture and ask God to reveal Himself to you. “Ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). We don’t have to strive in this life; as we seek and follow after God, He provides for us and blesses us.
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
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