Hello! I’m John and I’m 24. I wanted to start this blog off with my testimony, so that you can see where I’m coming from and where I’m growing.
I was born in Denver, CO and raised in the Methodist church. Throughout my time at that church, I realized that there were things about the Church as a whole that I didn’t like. Everyone would dress up, wearing their Sunday Best as it was, and there I’d be in my jeans and a button-up shirt, if I was lucky. It didn’t end there, listening to sermons, the pastors seemed to be more focused on themselves and the church, telling anecdotes and relating things to their own lives, then teaching us how to live solid Christian lives in the eyes of God. Therefore, when I went off to college, I turned away from Christianity.
My college years were fun, don’t get me wrong. However, looking back at the choices I made, they were obviously not for the betterment of myself. I wound up falling into a cycle of lust and drinking, often having negative effects on my schooling. Although I graduated early, I definitely did not get the most out of my education, instead focusing more on a sinful lifestyle of alcohol and impure thoughts and actions towards women. This lifestyle was not only unfulfilling, but it led to other issues such as anger and impatience, a need to always be in control, things I am still working on to this day.
Coming out of college, I began attending a church that I had gone to off-and-on throughout high school. I didn’t necessarily go because I wanted to, however. I went because it was a stipulation of living back at home, one which I came later to appreciate. I’d often go hungover, if I went at all, often having been out way too late with friends or on a date and falling back into that cycle that kept hold of me in college. It was like the enemy was trying to keep me from following God, and he was doing a darn good job of it.
Eventually, I was laid off from my first major job out of college, not because of my own actions, but, looking back, because God had a greater purpose. I was listening to a sermon the other day where the preacher said, “There are no coincidences in life. Nothing is luck. Everything happens because that is how God wrote it.” Following the lay off, I ended up moving to China to spend a year teaching English, something I thought I would be fine at, but not really sure how well it would go. Halfway through the year, something clicked. Throughout college, I always shirked off the idea of becoming a teacher. To do that, I would have needed better grades and would have had to spend longer in school instead of graduating early.
What clicked inside me was one of the few times I’d ever heard Him speak in clear words to me saying, “You will become a teacher when you move back.” I kind of shuddered at the thought and didn’t really know what to do with it, but sent the emails and worked on getting accepted, not because it was what I really wanted to do, but because I knew it was a part of listening to God and following His path, leading me away from the path of the enemy. With this, also came the thought of, when I get back I want to be involved working with youth in some capacity.
China marks the turning point in my relationship with God. It showed me that God has a plan, and will work on keeping us to His will, no matter how often we detour, that He doesn’t give up on us, even if we give up on Him. I started getting more involved in The Word, reading it more on the app on my phone, having left my full bible at home in Colorado. I came back in October for a wedding and to spend time at home. I took a Thursday night and decided to go to the Young Adults group at the church I’d been attending before I left, having been once or twice before. We broke up into small groups and this blonde guy sat down and was our table leader. I thought nothing of him until about halfway through I realized that he was the church’s new youth pastor. I kind of looked up to God at this point and was like, “Ok, I see what you’re getting at.” At this moment I knew that I was right where God wanted me, and He was putting the people in my life to help me continue on His path.
After coming back to Colorado, I began being more involved in the Church, working on my own spiritual journey and growing closer to God, but also working with that blonde guy who sat across from me several months before, and getting plugged into the Youth Group at church. One of the core beliefs of my church organization is that “Christians can only find fulfillment in God’s plan when they’re vitally connected to a local church.” To me, this connection was, and still is, serving with the Youth.
Roughly two months after getting back and becoming involved in the church more and more, developing friendships with my fellow young adults and youth, as well as relationships with the pastors at the church, an opportunity came up that I tried to fight for about three weeks. Our church was holding a baptism. After a few weeks of fighting it, it was like God began yelling at me to take this next step, to reaffirm my commitment to Him in front of the whole church community. So I took the leap. Having been baptized as a baby, and then confirmed again as a youth in the Methodist church, I had been through the motions of giving my life. However, these were all in my youth, before I knew what life was without Him and before I could truthfully make the choice of turning my full attention to Him and pledging myself as His servant. The picture below was taken right before my baptism, but before this I had been fighting back tears of joy from just flowing down my face, for there is no greater feeling than knowing that you are truly in God’s presence and that He loves you, past scars and all.
Following my baptism, things turned around for the better. Where I was having trouble finding a job, God sent me the perfect opportunity in a school with people who truly want to see me succeed in a career in education. My relationships with friends have grown stronger, and my issues with resentment and anger have lessened. I know that I am only at the starting line of something much bigger than I can imagine and that His plans for me are only beginning, but I am so excited to see where He will take me. Thinking about being in His presence reminds me of Psalm 23, where David talks about being in the presence of the Lord through all trials, saying “He leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:3-4, TNIV) It is a calming feeling being in the presence of the Lord, one of which I have not always felt.
As I continue on my journey, I seek to do things that are out of my comfort zone, knowing that He will always guide me and keep me on the right path, His path. Seeking to grow closer to Him, I’m continually finding areas of my life where I have kept his presence out for so long, that it is hard to kick the enemy out. One of these is issues with control and turning things over to God instead of dealing with them myself. Although I struggle with this, I know that God is watching and waiting, guiding me slowly to improve this area so that I can know him and trust him even more.
Well, that’s my testimony. I hope that through this blog I can share more of my journey with you, as well as fun ideas and topics that I want to talk about.