Hey guys, Chris here!
I know that most of you reading this have probably already heard many of these things, but for those who don’t, I want to share a portion of why I am the way that I am now.
I grew up in a home that wasn’t submitted to Jesus. I visited church a few times when I was younger, and I even had moments throughout my youth where I thought it could be true. My family didn’t attend church, let alone believe most of the things that were being taught in church. I remember a time when I was about seven or eight years old, and for about a week I fell asleep crying every night because I wasn’t sure of what would happen to me after I died. I asked a lot of questions to a lot of people, but I didn’t really get anything substantial to hold on to.
When I entered high school, I was your typical high schooler. I was unconfident, confused, and trying to impress any person any way that I could. I soon made lifelong friends that I still love to this day. We had many different conversations concerning the purpose of our life and what was beyond. In the end, I embraced the concept of Atheism with the conclusion that I simply didn’t really know the truth, and evolution seemed to fit my understanding the best.
I entered into the U.S. Navy in the midst of these things and continued my search for truth. I attempted to embrace and understand Buddhism, but it didn’t truly satisfy my questions. I then got into quantum physics; and I thoroughly enjoyed gaining understanding through science. At this point in my life, I had known A LOT of “Christians”, but the only thing that I had ever seen from them was a massive amount of hypocrisy. They would warn me that if I didn’t accept their Jesus as being God, then I would be destined for Hell, yet, they lived like Hell every day of their lives. They got angry and lashed out like me, got their girlfriends pregnant like me, had parties and drank a lot of alcohol just like me. Nothing separated them from the rest of the world other than this overwhelming sense of judgment that they passed on to the rest of the world. I lived in this mindset, and when it came to truth, Jesus was at the bottom of the list.
I had been in the Navy for about three years after returning home from my first deployment. It was a rough deployment, and I asked my girlfriend to marry me as soon as I got home. We were planning on getting married right after I separated from the Navy and started college. We found out two weeks later that she was pregnant. We then decided to move our wedding date to three and a half months away. I immediately saw all of my dreams vanish right before my eyes. I wanted to travel the world do all of the irresponsible things that parents shouldn’t do. I was in control of my life, and all of a sudden, I lost the control. Fast forward four months, and I am newly married, living in my in-law’s house and overcome with depression. It was a dark environment with lots of anger, hurt, alcohol, drugs, and pain. I hated my wife, her family, my job, my home, and my life. I was full of rage, and I just wanted out of it all.
It was in this season of long work hours and massive confusion that I had an encounter in my car with Jesus. He revealed Himself to me in the most incredible and overwhelming demonstration of love that I had ever experienced in my life. I stepped out of my car, and to the bewilderment of every single person in my life, I was transformed into a new man. I was born again. I was desperately hungry for Jesus, and the only thing that I wanted was Him. I was consumed with the Word of God. It was the first time in my life that I had ever actually read the Bible, which is ironic, because I already “knew” everything that was wrong with it before then. Immediately, the only kind of music that I desired was music that glorified Jesus. My sadness was turned to uncircumstantial joy; my fear was turned into trust and faith; my anger and judgment were turned into love. All of a sudden, it all became so clear.
Telling my friends and family was like coming out of the closet. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I told every person I worked with the very next day. I developed this immense sense of urgency for the hearts and lives of my co-workers. I didn’t have much understanding or grace in my approach, but I came into work on fire for Jesus. I made it my mission to reach every person that I possibly could. I failed and fell down many times, but Jesus always picked me up and restored me. He restored my marriage and gave me a love for my wife, family, friends and everybody else in this world that I had never known. When I couldn’t do it, He could.
As I grew in faith and understanding, I also grew in Spirit. I had read through my Bible within a year, and I had learned how to wake up early and pray. I didn’t really ever have a “mentor”, but I had the Holy Spirit. He began to open my ears to His voice and show me His heart. He began to heal the sick through me and do the things that I read about in the Book of Acts. He transformed the world around me, beginning with my wife and children.
In this season of His goodness and presence, I decided that I wanted to obey the Great Commission. After two years of prayer and convincing, my wife finally had her heart transformed and we said yes. Through a series of supernatural confirmations and incredible events, we are headed to Thailand. This has been a long journey to get here, but it has been so good. I now walk in His unending presence every day, and my thoughts, actions and words are driven by His love. When I fall down, He restores me. He has allowed me to take part in His rescuing of this world, and I have watched Him bring hope to hopeless situations and people. I have watched Him heal broken arms, legs, backs and so on. Jesus is so good, and I am so excited to be a part of what He is doing every single place that I go. I hope this encourages you, and I just want to include two last things.
You are the steward of your own heart. “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13 ESV) “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.” (Proverbs 8:17 ESV) “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8a ESV) The only thing stopping us from encountering more of God is us. If you want to know Him, then just draw near to Him, seek Him and love Him. “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him; whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1 John 2:3-6 ESV) We ought to walk and look just like Jesus! God bless you all as you walk with Him and He in you today!