I was raised going to a Greek Orthodox church all through my childhood, and even began to attend Sunday services by myself when I was able to drive. When I got to college, I stopped going to church and slowly turned away from God over the course of about three years. I began to adopt an agnostic worldview–thinking God may or may not exist, but either way I needed to live my own life and look out for myself. Through my senior year of college, my weak agnostic stance turned into a firm atheistic stance on life. I was certain that God did not exist, and that Christianity was simply just one more religion in the world that was formed on stolen ideas and stories from ancient myths.
In the meantime, I was seeing much success in school and in my career. I was making much more money than anyone in my class and landed a great job out of college. Life was good. I bought my first car and paid my own bills and it seemed to all be clicking. Except, little by little, I began to have this eerie feeling about what would happen to me if I were to lose this job. If I were to lose my job, I realized I would lose everything. All my success in life was tied to how well I had done for myself in terms of monetary gain–and it was a sad realization.
Then I met a Christian girl at work and shared with her my issues with the Bible and the church, and I quite clearly offended her. She was a nice girl, so I laid off the subject a little bit, and we developed a friendship. This girl and I grew very close, spending each day together at work and there was just something different about her that I could not describe. She shared with me her own testimony and I was shocked to find out what this sweet adorable girl had been like prior to giving her life to Jesus. While it was certainly an inspiring story of redemption, I still felt like she was operating under some false sense of hope in life.
But as she and I grew closer, I became more and more curious about her faith and started investigating Christianity myself. I met with some other Christian friends of mine and shared with them my feelings toward the religion, specifically how I could absolutely not trust a two to three thousand year old book to be the accurate word of God by which I would set the standards of my life. We talked through some Christian apologetics material on Old and New Testament textual criticisms and original manuscripts still around today from which the Bible can be reconstructed. These conversations sparked enough intrigue in me to start reading other books in defense of the faith.
Thanks to these conversations and readings. I had reached the point where I was over my qualms about the legitimacy of the Bible and was convinced of my need for Jesus Christ in my life. I met with a young adult pastor at a local church to discuss my desire for God, but expressed my hesitation due to the fact that I had completely turned away for about five years. I felt like there was something I would have to do in order to be back in good standing with God so I could get to a place where I was acceptable to Him. The pastor talked about God’s grace and how it is a gift that is not earned, but is freely given. He explained how all punishment I deserved for my rebellion against God was paid for by Jesus Christ on the cross and that all I needed to do in order to gain salvation was to ask God for forgiveness and profess my faith in Jesus. In tears, I did just that. I will always recognize that moment as the greatest decision I ever made in my life.
Jesus has done everything for me, and I see now that living life for the glory of myself only led me to a place of darkness and fear. Since turning to Christ I am able to live freely as a follower of Him and trust that God has complete control over my life.
And no matter what happens, good or bad, all my faith and hope rests in Him alone and not on my own efforts.
[Image via Gilberto Agostinho – Creative Commons]