How did I come to believe in Jesus?
The answer traces to my childhood, which for the most part was in Panama City Beach Florida…
First, I should preface this by saying that as someone who loves and follows Jesus, I do not consider myself to be religious, nor do I believe that Jesus desires mere religion from anyone. In fact, the longer I've been a christian, the clearer it has become to me that there's a huge difference between the two.
On to the story...
My parents were believers and took great care to raise my brothers and I in the faith. We went to church regularly, and prayer, as well as talk of the bible were just a normal part of growing up in our home. Even so, I never viewed my parents as religious, but as true christians. Their faith had substance, and as I look back, I see that it became the foundation for my own.
Of course, I was young, and my faith was passed down by my parents, but I still made a decision to accept Christ and develop a relationship with the Lord. I prayed, read the bible, and felt God’s presence when we worshipped. In other words, it was real for me. Unfortunately, though, the relationship I had with the Lord as a child faded for a long season as I turned to the world.
Let me explain…
Life in our home was godly, but, the culture outside was chaotic at times. The beach’s economy was fueled largely by a party scene called "the strip" which was just a short walk from our house. It’s hard to understand the craziness that takes place there without seeing it firsthand, but take my word for it that its wild, and especially for the kids growing up in the middle of it. It was all at my disposal and before I knew it I was sucked in. The same was pretty much true for all of my friends and many of their parents.
Years passed by, and as my spiritual condition worsened, my parents grew increasingly heart broken. My only goal during this time was to move to California when I turned eighteen in order to find better surf. Basically, I had gone from having a promising future to caring virtually nothing about it.
Eventually, my mother became so desperate to see me restored that she recruited a group of godly women to pray for my soul. In my opinion, this is the point that things started changing.
For the record, I had no knowledge of this prayer group and hadn’t been to church or thought about the bible in years. Yet, out of nowhere, I began to have serious thoughts about God again as the Spirit began to soften my heart. At this time my mother ripped out a page from her bible and sent it to me in a letter. A note inside asked me to read the page - so I did.
What happened when I read it?
My spiritual eyes were opened, and for the first time in years, I could see through the demonic fog that blinded me. At that moment, I realized that I’d been living in darkness and needed the Savior. My heart was deeply broken by this experience and I was left knowing what I needed to do. From that point on, I began to walk in a new relationship with God.
Since then, I’ve made many mistakes along the way, but I’ve definitely been changed by God's power and thank Him for it daily. As well, I thank my parent’s who demonstrated the unconditional love and wisdom that won me back to the Lord. I've now come to realize that the highest purpose in life is to receive Christ's gift of salvation and learn to live in His love and truth.