As a young boy my parents did the right thing and got me into church at the age of five years old. By the time I was seven, I had accepted Christ and was baptized shortly after. Unfortunately, as I discovered later in life, I didn’t really understand what I had done. For years I thought going to church on Sunday and even hitting some midweek services here and there meant I had a relationship with Christ.
It wasn’t until I was 21 years of age that I realized, with some sadness, that I really had no relationship with Christ. Thanks to my wonderful Christian friend, Zach, I soon began to understand the meaning of what it was to have a relationship with Jesus. I began to pray more and realized that praying often and with my heart didn’t always make things turn out the way I wanted, but prayer did seem to change the way I looked at my relationship with Christ.
Though I was on the right path, I was still missing something. By the time I had turned 22 I had re-committed my life and was baptized again to show my friends and family my true confession to living a Christ filled life. It was then that I began to see the work, commitment, and belief that was required to be a true man of God and to have Jesus at the center of my world. I continued to learn to follow Jesus, stumbling often when my closest friends would stumble in their walk.
There was even a point close to my 23rd birthday when I considered turning away from God! I attribute this to my lack of knowledge of Jesus, the sacrifice He made for us all on the cross, and the empty relationship I was establishing with Him.
Since then, I have been nurturing that beautiful relationship with Christ that I have heard so many Christians speak of. I believe and can now testify there is a big difference between checking the boxes to achieve a feeling of being a Christian, and truly living a God glorifying Jesus filled life. From the time that I almost turned from God at 23 until now I have learned more on a daily basis and now I see my trials as a blessing. God loves me so much that He is willing to challenge me, sometimes on a daily basis, not to see if I can make it through, but for me to see Jesus standing there right next to me to pick me up when I fall. He does this to continually profess His love for me and for us all.
Now, I am more oriented in Jesus than I have ever been in my entire life. I look forward to learning more about Jesus and our Heavenly Father every day, not because my pastor tells me to, but because God desires it. We have a friend in Jesus and just as I would do with any other relationship, I cultivate and nurture it to bring fruit in my life to ultimately glorify God. I am truly an open vessel for God to use me and because of my relationship with Jesus I have never felt so loved and more on the path that God has always wanted for me than I do now.
At this point, I challenge you…find an awesome church and raise your children in Jesus. If you still need to be raised in Jesus, then seek Him out. Reach out to Jesus and teach your children, friends, and family to do the same. Please don’t get caught up in being brought up in the church, it’s not a game that you can win by the acts that you accomplish, but a gift from God by the service you do to glorify God through loving and knowing His son, Jesus!
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