Similarly to a substantial amount of people presently attending church, I was born into a rather clerical household, my parents being Christians. Their strong beliefs have influenced my own church appearances growing up. Starting at a young stage, I was never able to comprehend the concept, or possibility of a supreme being. The distance between myself and God was sourced by my unwillingness to believe in His existence. Giving into physical pleasures and tendencies, my materialism intercepted desires to acknowledge any spiritual domains. This usually brought rather surprising reactions from my parents as well as friends, being that I had been surrounded by so many religious opportunities during my childhood. Yet I used to consider sermons and praises as useless.
I refused to believe that God existed, unless I physically saw Him for myself. Being that many church people shared their encounters feeling the presence of Him during prayer and reflected the amazing things that God has done for them, this only discouraged my own understanding of who He really was. My recollections consist of feeling frustrated that God was supposedly doing so much for others, but that I wasn’t able to get a direct answer from Him. It really did seem too good to be true, and attempting to pray left me the impression that I was talking to myself. The generation I was brought up in evidently served to add to the questioning of my parents, as well as every Christian. After all, how did I know that out of all these religions, Christianity was the right one? That the version of God I learned growing up was the reality? Because of these doubts, I would indicate obvious discomfort partaking in church activities such as retreats, and I would beg my parents to let me skip Sunday service every once in a while. I viewed church as being tedious, especially as I was equipped with the mentality that I could be doing so many other things to make the most of my time.
My influences led me further from committing to what my family members were doing. Being in high school, I was so so tempted to give in to the environment I was constantly surrounded by. The awareness of “unholy” thoughts and decisions of my friends were enough to shape my own explicit beliefs on how I should be living my life. As a result, I found house church to be extremely boring as it was joint with younger age groups. However, it was at one point during a gathering earlier this year, when I was met with a different perspective. Sharing my thankfuls one day allowed me to realize that indeed, I was surrounded by an abundance of blessings. I thought about it and realized that my previous half-hearted prayers were answered with love countless times. Talking to my house church leader was when I sensed that I could also be susceptible to Jesus’s love. Her affectionate words and consistent contact even in my times of rebellion conveyed to me, a clear representation of God’s own love as being persistent and eternal. So when she suggested enlisting for the GPS, I was surprisingly open to this idea.
During the GPS, I was introduced to a verse at one point that left a distinct impression. It’s from Ephesians 2:8-9, which reads, “8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- 9 Not by works, so that no one can boast”. Hearing this, I was able to perceive the love of God that everyone was vividly talking about. Regardless of the fact that God knows of my imperfect and sinful past, I was able to sense that this made no difference on the value He placed on me as an individual. In accordance, I better understood that His decision to create and call me one of His own was not based upon how much I served Him and showed the same respect. Rather, it was involuntary, being that He loved me for being myself, and this understanding pushed me to pursue the decision of committing to Jesus.
To be completely honest, I don’t feel a significant change in how I go about with my daily activities, yet. But I do maintain a newfound sense of stability knowing that I can cast all my problems onto Jesus through prayer. I used to think that this was it, that the quality of my life revolved around how successful I could become on Earth. Being someone with a lot of trust issues and doubts naturally, I wasn’t able to consider a greater reality than my current situations and conscious states. Evidently, my friends who were with me when I felt insecure, knew how much stress I put myself under when trying to face problems with school and health, on my own. But as Matthew Chapter Six verse Thirty Three says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you”, there is the reassurance that such material aspects remain a temporary piece of ourselves. And lastly I want to take my church members, pastor Caleb, house church and of course God for helping me get to where I am today.