My Conversion

This is what I’ve written for application to Covenant College.  I just thought I’d share…

The story of my conversion and how God drew me to Himself is, as all true conversions, unique. I grew up in a believing household with a father who was (and is) a PCA pastor, and a faithful loving Mother. I was preached the gospel at a young age and my childhood was filled with morning scripture family times, church activities, and reading many noted Christian authors up until I graduated high school. (Being home schooled and the son of a PCA minister, yes I read John Calvin)

However, I’ve come to understand that my “Christianity” as a child was mainly knowing a lot about God, but not really believing in Him. This dichotomy was revealed when I attended Bill Gothard’s American Training Institute’s ALERT program after high school. Sadly that program was extremely legalistic and being a Christian amounted to mainly living up to an “image” of what a Christian “should look like”. My heart began to struggle as I experienced real wrong justified or ignored in that program. (Funny how that tends to happen in a legalistic culture) Also I began to despise the “image” that they portrayed of what it meant to be a Christian. My distrust of that “image” began with the fact that I could pull it off. I could say all the right things, do all the right things, and look, for all intents and purposes, just like they wanted me to look. However in my heart, I couldn’t have been farther from what I looked like on the outside. I despised myself for being a hypocrite, and I began to despise God for (as they would put it) only “blessing” me if I lived up to that image.

After ALERT I joined the United States Marine Corps Reserve and learned a huge life lesson. Growing up, all I had ever wanted to be was a Marine. That was the number one goal I had for my adult life. However, I had no idea what getting what you most want in life would actually entail. The moment came, was experienced, and passed leaving me with the question, “Now what?” I relocated to Georgia to live with my parents and presumed that because I had done up until this point “what God wanted me to do” that I would be “blessed”. A year passed and I had no friends, little fellowship at the church my parents attended, I worked a job I disliked with a boss I really disliked, and ultimately I felt God had let me down. I had been what He “wanted me to be” and this is what my life looks like? “I don’t even want to look like that!” Ultimately my heart was coming to the decision, “If I have to be someone for God to love me, forget God because I’m not that person and I’ll never be that person.”

It was at this point that God’s grace began to work. I got an invitation to the first New Attitude conference put on by Josh Harris and Sovereign Grace Ministries. For some reason I just knew that my best friend from high school (and at that point my only friend), was going to be playing on the worship band. So merely out of a desire to see my friend one last time before I turned my back on the church and God, I went to the conference. But before the conference God had something He wanted me to experience.

Before I was to ride up to the conference with a group from Sovereign Grace Church Chesapeake, I was invited to a New Years Eve party with the group. The house was filled almost to overflowing with people fellowshipping and caring for one another. I was overwhelmed by the genuineness and lack of pretense in that room. When at one point, everyone sat down and began to recount what they were thankful to God for, I ended up having to leave the house. I sat in my car and wept because, except for my family, I couldn’t think of one thing I was thankful to God for and just a moment ago I was watching person after person express genuine gratitude and love towards God. They had “something” I didn’t have. There was “something” in that room that I would give anything to have, and it felt like my bitter, rock hard heart was breaking.

At the conference God would ultimately reveal to me what that “something” was. C. J. Maheney gave a message on legalism and finally everything I “knew” about God became real. To hear that there was no way I could make God love me less, and no way I could make Him love me more, finally broke the barrier between what I knew of God and what I really believed about God. He loved me! Just as I was! I laughed and sang with joy for the first time in ages. I remember telling my best friend that night, “In one sense this doesn’t make sense. Nothings really changed but now, for the first time since I can remember I’m happy.” That night my faith became true faith in God, and not in my ability to please God.

Following the conference I made a move of faith to leave Georgia and become apart of Sovereign Grace Chesapeake. Over the next six years God brought me through varying trials and high points. I learned humility and patience working a job I wasn’t naturally gifted in. I plugged into the church and learned to serve and fellowship and eventually became involved in leadership in the church. I experienced a period of time where God graciously took away all that I had invested in for three years, and lead me through a dark valley of depression in order to draw me even more personally into relating to Him. Ultimately in 2005 God lead me to make another faith move to California to assist a friend with a business. (I moved having never even visited Pasadena) For the past four years I’ve continued to participate in the local church. Serving in the Singles ministry, visual display ministry, and worship team. It’s been a strange wild adventure to be where I’m at today and I’m sure that as I continue to attempt to follow God’s will out of love for Him not in order to be accepted by Him, the adventure of getting to know Him more will only continue.

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