Last night one of my favorite song's came on my Pandora radio station, Broken Vessels by Hillsong Worship. As I listened to the words, I began to thank God for saving me from my life before I knew him. I began to recall what I had been saved from and brought through. The lyrics deeply moved me and then I remembered seeing a verse, 1 Peter 2:9, over the weekend on a girl's t-shirt and the next morning in a daily devotional. I felt compelled to write this vulnerable (and long) story about how I came to know Jesus in hopes that it helps someone today.
"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." 1 Peter 2:9
Growing up I knew about God and went to church, but I guess I never understood him enough to have a full relationship with him. I understood the religion aspect, but not the relationship aspect. It didn't help matters much when I made a typical teenage mistake with a boy in high school and got in trouble for it which led me to confide in who I thought was the right person, a youth pastor. It turned out that confiding in this particular youth pastor was a mistake as he had previous hidden issues with younger girls and the relationship quickly became inappropriate with texts that should have never been sent to a 16 year old girl in a vulnerable state of mind. That year was the hardest time of my life. I felt so lost and alone.
From then on I blamed God. I blamed him for allowing this whole situation. I blamed him for my own mistakes. I blamed him for the mistakes of others. I held on to hurt, resentment and anger toward others. I ran, yet I never fully stopped believing. I guess you could say I held God at an arms length making sure I knew where he was when I needed him, but not buying into the whole "Christian" lifestyle. When things got hard or I needed something I would still pray, but going to church didn't feel real and my trust was broken. I didn't understand at the time that God doesn't cause things like that to happen and he was always right there with me. In John 10:10 it says, "The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full." I didn't understand this verse fully at the time because I was hurt so I just disconnected.
College felt like freedom, but the freedom was lonely. I didn't care for the party scene, but my only friends were at those parties so I went. I always tried to fill the God shaped hole in my life with the world. I thought relationships and people could fix what I felt, but it only resulted in being let down time and time again. As college went on I kept trying every church in town hoping it would be the turning point. I tried every christian denomination and finally came to the point where I wasn't even sure what I believed any more. I knew I believed in God, but where was he? He seemed so far away and I thought I was too broken to be fixed.
One day during my last semester of college a girl I worked with began to tell me about the church she went to in town. We quickly became friends and one day she invited me to come to the college service at Church of the Highlands. My previous experiences at the other college services in town weren't great, but I was desperate to encounter Jesus so I said yes. I met her at the college service called ONE and immediately sensed something different. These students weren't there out of religion- they had something different. They were sold out for Jesus and it was real. I stood in the front row with my friend as the worship music played and noticed the joy on their faces. I wanted that.
I knew the path I was headed down without Jesus was a lonely one. I didn't like the potential outcomes of the life I was living. That night I saw a side of church and Jesus that I never knew existed and I rededicated my life to God. Sure it wasn't easy and it was a slow adjustment, but within 4 months I was completely sold out for Jesus. My old life was gone and my new life was amazing living for God. Being a christian doesn't come without trials, but with God on my side I knew I could make it through anything. I didn't have to be perfect to come back to Jesus- I just had to admit I needed him and accept him with a heart of surrender.
I soon gained new friends and realized what Gods love felt like. I experienced a lot healing and I learned to forgive and move on. I found freedom I never knew existed. I found out what my gifts and passions were and I got involved at the church. Some people may think I'm crazy because I'm constantly doing ministry with my church, but for me it was the best thing to ever happen to me. I was so lost, but Jesus rescued me.
Wherever you are in your life today, I hope my story encourages you. You're never too far to come to Jesus. Don't let the enemy tell you those lies. Jesus loves you and is waiting for you right where you are. Find a local church to get involved in and get connected to the body of Christ. No matter what you've been through you can find freedom in God.