Matthew, 16, South Carolina, USA
I went to church growing up, but I never really understood the gospel. I had brief “spiritual” highs, but they never lasted. I was a typical non-believing teenager. I cursed all of the time and had a few common and destructive addictions. I was insanely selfish and angry; I was filled with so much hate.
Things got really dark in 2018. Something in me shifted and I lost all sense of worth. I remember staring at the ceiling wondering why I was still alive. I tried to use fleshly pleasure to cope, but the euphoria was always fleeting.
This darkness lasted until the very first day of 2019. I was lying awake on a friend’s couch, unable to quiet my brain. For reasons I can’t explain, I began reflecting on all of the Christian youth retreats I’d attended and all of the sermons I’d heard. Suddenly, the gospel clicked in my mind. Jesus died for the sins of humanity; to know and be saved by Him, all I had to do was believe, repent, and give Him my life. This was all true and, suddenly, I was sure of it. I surrendered. I confessed my sins, resolved to turn away from them, and asked for forgiveness.
In that moment, a fiery warmth sprung up in my heart. The Holy Spirit. I’d been covered in mud, shivering in the dark for so long. When the Holy Spirit entered, it was as if the sun had finally come out, along with a pouring rain that washed me clean.
Finally, I knew that I had worth and a purpose. Not only that, but I knew what my purpose was: to live out God’s will for my life and proclaim His name. My friends remarked that I seemed so happy — and I was. I was filled with a burning joy, which I carry with me to this day. I dive into God’s Word daily and, because of this, that initial fire has not faded.
The Lord has been faithful in “creating in me a pure heart” (Psalms 51:10). He released me from so many of my old chains. Some took a while to get off, but by His grace, I am now free. I am truly a “new creature” (2 Corinthians 5). This has come with a cost; at first, my friends were super unsupportive. “We miss the old Matthew,” they’d say. But, fortunately, the old Matthew has passed away. I pray for them often.
Each day, I aim to love the Lord with all my heart, mind, soul, spirit, and strength. Despite the costs, I will never turn from Him. Man is fallen, but God is perfect! He is loving — so loving that He took the sin of the world upon Himself.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5)