I was raised in a Christian home, and my family attended church nearly every Sunday. However, I never had a lot of knowledge about the Bible. As a kid, I honestly did not have any issues with having a lack of knowledge—until I went to my first Wednesday night program. I was probably in third or fourth grade. I went to my first class and all of the kids knew so much about the Bible compared to me. For the first time in my life, I questioned my faith. I never talked to my parents about this. I just told them I was not having fun and didn’t want to go back. So, we never went back.
From then on, I was very legalistic about trying not to sin. The problem was, what was considered sin? I didn’t know. I knew the Ten Commandments, but I didn’t think that covered every sin. My parents told me not to curse. So, I didn’t do that. But I did not know why I wasn’t supposed to do these things. I just knew I was told not to do it.
By the time I was in eighth grade, all of my friends were cursing and living rebellious lives. At this point in my life, I wanted to fit in, so I started to curse and be more rebellious. However, I still wanted to follow Jesus. But I didn’t know how that really worked. My only idea was to be two different people. Depending on the situation, I followed the crowd. If I was at church or with my family, I’d pretend to be a good kid who didn’t rebel. When I was around my friends, I was as rebellious as they were. As I went to high school and was given the freedom to drive, I started to hang out with my friends more and more. I continued to fall further and further away from Jesus.
When you fall far enough away from Jesus, you replace Him. In my junior year of high school, I started dating my first girlfriend. I never verbally replaced Jesus. However, in my heart I replaced him with her. The most painful part about it was that I knew it. The Holy Spirit works in ways we don’t understand, and He let me know that I had totally replaced God in my life.
At the time I was okay with that decision, and I did not know why. I told myself lies to justify my actions. My pride got the best of me. I thought I knew what was best for my life, but I did not. When my girlfriend broke up with me, I was heartbroken, but immediately I knew that this was a second chance to get my life with Christ right. I had enough of a foundation in Christ to know where I wanted the rest of my life to head. This is the best lesson I have learned to this date in my life. I promised myself I would not pursue another relationship until I had confidence in my Christian life.
Over the course of the past two years, I have been on that journey. God has shown me so much. He has taught me that He loves me regardless of my past. He has taught me the value of Christian brotherhood. He has taught me that I will never stop sinning. I can’t fulfill God’s law, and that’s okay. Jesus has already paid for my past sin and my future sin.
There was a point in my life when I walked away from the Lord and didn’t know it. But looking back on my life, I see it. When I look back and realize where my life was heading without God, I am very happy and blessed that God was able to call me out of that lifestyle.
Austin Wiesbrook [FLBC first-year student] is a member of Helmar Lutheran, Newark, Ill.
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