The Jesus Factor

To say nothing about the relationship I have with the Lord would leave a deep hole in my story, which is essentially the heart and sole of this blog. Because of this, I am compelled to share the journey I have walked with Christ and proclaim the good work he has done in my life. Though many Christ followers are quick to throw off the label of “Christian” in an effort to save face and avoid criticism, it is a part of my identity I cannot deny. I am sorry for the sins of past and present believers, but I do not apologize for the God that I serve. I know that His Word is rejected by the majority of the population, religious or not. That does not change the fact that it is truth.

I always knew about Him. After all, I grew up in a Christian home. But, I didn’t really meet Him until I was 18 years old. We met at a conference. I’ve been to a lot of Christian conferences: this one was the Evangelical Free National Youth Conference in Atlanta, GA, in July of 2002. We had these huge rallies in the Georgia Tech dome each night. Chris Tomlin was the worship leader that week. I don’t remember the name of the speaker the second night we were there, but it was during his sermon on Isaiah 6 that the Lord rocked the earth under my feet. It was a breathtaking, bone-crushing, heart-piercing experience that left me speechless for hours afterward. The Lord had confronted me with the reality of my sin and the sin of the world. The weight of that sin and its consequences – death and eternal separation from God – was laid on my heart. It was a burden that rested very heavily on me. I felt a physical pain and in my distress and shame, God reminded me of his mercy. I accepted his gift of grace with all my heart. This time it was for real. I was a changed person from that day forward.

Before God got in my face, I was a self-centered, hypocritical teen, lacking in integrity and control of my emotions. I struggled with intermittent depression that largely stemmed from an inward focus with a critical spirit. I had absorbed the negative, become somewhat bitter, and abandoned my identity in Christ to pursue popularity. I was totally unaware of my need for God’s grace. A pivotal moment leading up to my true conversion happened during study hall when I was seventeen. A teacher interrupted me while I laughed and scoffed at the photos of disfigured people on a popular website. “Aren’t you church people supposed to be nice? I thought religious people weren’t supposed to make fun of people like that.” I was wearing a church t-shirt at the time.

I went to the conference the summer after my senior year and I entered college with a renewed spirit and a hunger for truth. When I got to college, God used InterVarsity Christian Fellowship to teach me what it really meant to walk with the Lord. It was in college that I began to witness first hand the power of prayer. It is also where I began to really study God’s Word and discover the character of God.

Today, I know God as my comforter, my provider, my King and my salvation. It is through an eternal perspective that I endure life’s hardships, knowing that one day this temporary home will vanish like a vapor and I will walk with the Lord in Heaven for eternity. Until then, it is my desire and purpose to continue to be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God… [To be] strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified [me] to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered [me] from the domain of darkness and transferred [me] to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom [I] have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. [Colossians 1:9-14]