I grew up Catholic, attended church and catechism regularly, and was confirmed. As a youngster, I did what many young people do – disobeyed parental instruction, shoplifted, vandalized others’ property, smoked, drank alcohol, used drugs, used foul language, viewed pornography, and engaged in premarital sex. As a young married man, I continued to attend church and take my kids to church and catechism, but continued many un-Godly behaviors. Like many ambitious men, I wanted all life had to offer – the rewarding career, a bigger home, nicer cars, the country club membership. I measured my worth by what I had accomplished and accumulated. But I could never quite have it all – it was always just beyond my grasp. Because I was so stressed trying, my family life was a mess and I suffered a variety of physical symptoms – chest pains, stomach problems, body aches and pains. Then things got worse. I eventually suffered through a divorce.
After some time, I remarried and continued attending church and taking my family to church. As my children grew older I attempted to change my negative behaviors because of the example I set. I had very little success despite what seemed to be my best efforts. Looking back, my “church attendance” didn’t seem to have much impact on the way I lived my life. I realize now I never considered my actions and faith (or lack of a genuine faith) were connected.
At some point, my wife, Christy, committed her life to Christ while listening to a Christian radio broadcast. She later told me she “got saved” and I, of course, had no idea what that meant. Christy began attending and eventually settled in a little Baptist church. I visited “her” church occasionally while still taking my girls to the Catholic church. I began to see a definite change in Christy and realized my own spiritual health was lacking. Due in part to the frequent covered dish socials and them allowing me to sing in the choir (I have a love for music), I began attending more frequently.
We began a friendship with a young couple from the church. The woman struggled with some issues and Christy began ministering to this new Christian. This young woman was “on fire” for Christ and one Sunday she sat me down and asked if I knew where I was going when I died. Without my conscious knowledge, the Holy Spirit had been working on me through the pastor’s sermons, the church’s love, and the Left Behind series I’d been reading. I began balling like a baby, realizing how depraved I was and recognizing that a Holy God would have nothing to do with me in my current state. The next morning, I visited with the pastor and he led me in praying to receive Christ as My Savior. I immediately felt such a weight lifted and realized right then that I was no longer fearful of dying. My life hasn’t been the same since.
I certainly am not perfect, but the “old self” truly has died. The Lord quickly helped me in overcoming the behaviors I had struggled with. Through His Word, the local church’s process of disciple-making, and the ministry of a Christian radio network, the Holy Spirit quickly transformed me into “a new creation” (2 Cor 5:17). I learned what’s really important in life and it’s not having the tennis court and the in-ground pool. I’ve got my priorities straight. I don’t worry so much and I’m content in my circumstances. The troubles that come my way in life are much easier to handle knowing I have God’s forgiveness and assurance that I’ll spend eternity with Him in heaven. The Lord continues to mold me even today. I have been teaching bible studies for over 10 years, but over the last couple of years God has opened my eyes and heart to a much deeper understanding of the truths contained in His Word and has ignited a growing passion in me for teaching His Word and sharing the good news of Jesus with those who are lost. He is also slowly growing me closer to the biblical model of a Godly husband and father.