If I had to characterize myself about 25 years ago before I came to know Christ, I would say that I was as busy as anyone else, busy with work, friends and recreation. I was going to church and was kind and helpful to people. My idea of salvation was if the pluses outweighed the minuses, you should be able to enter heaven. However, with being busy and helpful and in my mind feeling I was saved, I would still occasionally sense emptiness. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was really running on empty.
It was a struggle that actually brought me to Christ. My friend and I had been dating for a year and a half but were struggling in our relationship. We struggled with our differences in determining where we would live, how we would spend our money and the type of church we would attend. Thoughts of marriage were on our minds yet we couldn’t resolve our differences. My friend was already in Bible Study Fellowship and when she strongly urged me to join, I finally gave in.
I really didn’t know what to expect in attending a Bible Study. I thought “who has time for a Bible Study,” and besides, once these Protestants find out I’m an old Catholic boy, they’ll probably throw me out in the parking lot!
My mind was open to going to the Bible Study because I wanted to please her and I wanted to get our struggle resolved. At the same time, and also in an attempt to resolve our struggle, we started going to a new church called Wooddale in Eden Prairie. Neither of us had attended Wooddale before and it was different from both of our denominational backgrounds.
I started sensing something in the messages both from Bible Study Fellowship and my new pastor. I started to sense truth. I started to sense forgiveness. I started to sense love. I started to sense Jesus Christ. I started hearing that I had to accept Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. I started understanding that accepting Jesus meant to receive him, to acknowledge him as my God, to invite him into my heart, to live for Christ and not myself.
Alone in my bedroom, I remember asking Christ to take away my sins and acknowledging that His work on the cross was sufficient to do that. Some of those sins included fear, pride, and an uncontrollable anger that largely burned within. The Bible tells us what kind of God we have to deal with our sins. Nehemiah 9:17b says “you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.”
Ever since making that commitment to live for Christ, I have had a strong and permanent undercurrent of joy and peace. I have a sense of purpose like never before.
Before my commitment, God was distant, faraway, someone who was “out there” but not someone I knew. Before my commitment my experience with Christ was like seeing a picture of Jesus on a wall, I knew about Jesus and knew he had guiding principles yet I could not interact with him in a personal way. When I made a commitment, I went from seeing a picture to knowing and having a personal relationship with the living Christ.
Although the relationship with my friend did not end in the joy of engagement and
marriage as I expected, I started a joyous personal relationship with Jesus Christ which was much more than I ever expected.
In the 25 years as a genuine Christian, I have gotten married, taken on more responsible jobs and God has blessed my wife Julie and me with two boys now young men. I have also enjoyed the opportunity to share the love of Jesus Christ with others.
I am motivated and inspired by God’s tremendous love. God’s love is overwhelming and enables me to meet everyday challenges. My work area is one of the challenges where God has given me tremendous help. I often feel quite weary at work from constant reading and analyzing words and numbers that come with being part of a management team of a growing $40 million dollar company. The office environment is fast paced and is characterized by increasing workloads, changes in technology and regulations and is sometimes punctuated with having to deal with difficult employees. I know I am not alone in dealing with these difficulties. God has given me strength when my strength runs out, he helps me set priorities, he offers guidance through Scriptures verses he brings to mind or help through co-workers.
Of course there are difficulties in the Christian life but God is there every step of the way. I have this longing to know God. I have this passion to share God’s love. I have this joy of knowing Jesus Christ as my friend, my Lord and my Savior.