This is the story of the journey to my faith. This is the story of who I was, who I am today and is at this point only the beginning. I know there will be those who laugh at my story, those who will mock my faith and who will question the motives of anyone who would venture to a relationship with Jesus. React as you will, not that you need my permission to do so, but go ahead…comment…laugh, ridicule, mock, question my level of intelligence or merely shake your head in disbelief that yet another person has put their faith in a belief in the “unknown, unproved existence of an all knowing, all powerful sovereign deity”. I stepped into faith in Jesus from the other side….I Once was lost, but now I’m found. YOU may not “need God”……but someday, you will. This is the journey to my “I Do”…..
“I have struggled for some time to put to paper my “Faith” Story, as I failed to find how my story would be moving to anyone. I never experienced any form of life altering realization, I had never experienced the “A-HA” moment found so often in Faith stories, but it was so eloquently and plainly stated by good friend and Associate Pastor Ryan Phelps, that this is not MY story, but HIS. Just the same as my being saved is not at all about anything I did, or any realization I came to, but about what Jesus had already done for all of us.
I was not raised in any firm faith or belief in anything. My Grandparents would bring me to a Catholic Church on the weekends in the years that I spent living in their home as a child. I saw the beautiful building, the ceremonial “thing” that was happening. I heard the organ and the singing of the hymns and heard a message that was more a droning voice than a proclamation of anything that applied to me, or anyone else in that matter. I heard and saw all of this….but never saw or heard the Gospel. The GREAT news of the saving Grace of our Lord and Savior. My Grandparents, though wonderful to me, showed great passion for whatever was being said in that Church but there was no mention of it at their home. There were plenty of Crosses on the wall, a HUGE picture depicting the last supper but nothing tied all of this together for me to make sense of it all….as if this did not apply to me.
I spent most of my childhood, teenage years and adult years living to please myself in every manner of speaking. Drugs and alcohol were no means to an end…they were there to make me happy. Music filled every waking moment. Music was my god. I worshipped it, lived for it and would’ve died or given up anything for it. Although it was always inherent in me to do unto others, and for the most part I tried to live by this, it was more in terms of “do good and you will have good done to you”…..I did so selfishly.
In my late 20’s I came to meet and VERY shortly after marry my beautiful wife Amy. God could not have planned or timed this any better…..His timing, reason and logic as perfect as they are. I was at my lowest having dealt with some years of Mental illness in my family, no career prospects , I had just dragged myself back from California where I sought after my musical dreams. I was feeling worthless, addicted, low and although I had no real Faith in God, still found plenty of times to blame Him for what I had become and where I found myself in life. Amy and her family were Christians…her Grandmother Milly may be the most warm hearted, accepting and loving woman, and devout Christian I have ever come to know. In Milly, I found Christ reflecting as I had never seen before. I was a tattooed, chain wearing, body pierced “freak” entering her house. I was timid at the prospect of meeting her but her immediate acceptance of me was astounding. Milly had no shortage of praise for God and loved Jesus in a way that when she spoke His name she would weep tears of perfect joy. It was what Jesus did in Milly that I wanted Jesus to do for me….what I always thought music would do for me.
Through the encouragement of good friends and neighbors Drew and Casey Nyssen, I finally dropped my guard enough to come to Gracepoint Community Church, completely skeptical, and attend a service and the one thing I had always run to, sought solace in and even hid behind was the first thing I heard on my way to the auditorium that morning…..Music….BEAUTIFUL music. Jesus knows what he is doing as he seeks for us to hear Him….He knows my heart and I knew it the moment I set ears on this music that was praising His name….He was having a conversation with me in a way He knew I would have no choice but to respond to…. and I sang. I didn’t sing the words to a song…I sang praise to Him for knowing me and calling to me in a way I would have no choice but to respond to.
Amy and I were Baptized together in the summer of 2009. We made the conscious decision to dedicate our lives and our family to Jesus. There is no bigger honor to me than to be loved in the way that only Jesus can love us and to reflect that love to others much in the way that Milly showed us how. Struggles still exist, but now there is comfort in the struggles. Imperfection still exists, but there is no longer a desire to be imperfect. Sin still rears its head, but now there is a defense against it and the great counselor is there to walk me through it. Although music is still a big part of what I do, I prefer to use it to bring glory to Him and not to me. To lead others in musical praise of the greatest sacrifice this world has ever known is not only an honor but a privilege. To take the “do unto others as you would have done to you” phrase and cut it down to just “do for others” is what Jesus has done to my heart.
As I write this, I realize that His story through me could go on for hours and although at times I have been known to be wordy, I will summarize like this……Before Jesus came into my heart I made a sacrifice to please ME in any way possible, But WITH Jesus in my heart I know that my sacrifices are for His Glory and His alone and in this there is infinite joy……even in suffering.”
Thanks for reading and I hope this serves as an encouragement to those who may be searching for that “something more”. May you hear God’s words in your own heart and if you do not now, be open to hearing it in the future. When you are lower than you thought possible, He can and will take you higher than you ever thought possible. He never said it would be easy or fun but His promise is that it will all go away after all is said and done.