I don’t know what you know about me or where you might be in your relationship with God. You may not believe in him at all; you may think He exists and is generally good; you may have some understanding of who Jesus was; you may be a lifelong church member and believer; you may have a dynamic walk with God that penetrates your whole life. I am just an ordinary person with lots of flaws and a whole lifetime of mistakes. I am no different than you, or maybe in many ways worse than you.
But I am blessed to know Jesus Christ and have received grace as a pure gift from God. This love from God is amazing, life-changing and totally undeserved. I have not always responded well to God’s grace, but I wouldn’t know life without it.
I grew up in a middle class American family, who loved a lot and enjoyed the typical American lifestyle. We played games, watched TV, went on a few vacations, and got along well most of the time. My family did not know God or attend church, but I grew up with a basic belief that God exists, he is generally good, and if you are good and honest you will probably go to heaven. I was blessed to be gifted academically and excelled in school. I made many friends and had a very enjoyable and fairly trouble-free childhood.
I went off to college and like many others, enjoyed the fun of college more than the learning. I learned some subjects and got exposed to lots of new peoples and ideas. I indulged more in parties than studies, and learned to binge drink and smoke pot. I joined the pursuit of casual relationships and promiscuity. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree, a desire to start a successful career, and alcohol and drug habits that were more than casual.
As I entered my life as a so-called adult, I found some moderate success in business and spent most of my time away from work pursuing pleasure for myself. I loved going to heavy metal concerts, going out to clubs to drink on the weekends, hanging out at the beach, searching for new women to date, getting high most of the time, having fun. I traveled, tried my hand at surfing, joined softball leagues, played guitar. I thought I was having a lot of fun, and most of my life was focused on how to please myself.
It was during this period in my life that my addictive habits really took a hold of me and grew into serious problems. I was drinking quite heavily every weekend, spending hundreds of dollars on my bar tabs. I was smoking pot pretty much every day, and tried a handful of other drugs. I developed a regular use of pornography and visited strip clubs with my friends. I had a number of casual, sexual relationships but nothing of a loving nature. I accrued a significant amount of credit card debt keeping up with my lifestyle.
I held up an appearance of being a “good person” – I was at work most every day, I was successful in my work, gaining promotions. I stayed in regular contact with my family, I had lots of friends, and I was nice to most people most of the time. I ignored the reality of a lot of my life – I was loud, rude and unable to take care of myself when drunk, I spent inordinate amounts of time cooped up in my house getting high, I ignored phone calls and did not return messages; I let friends and family down by being late or not delivering on my commitments to them. Inside, I was hurting and longing for something more meaningful in my life.
(to be continued…)