Let There Be Light | Sean
As I reflect on my life as a Christian from darkness to light, I believe that I had a very good upbringing. I wouldn’t really say that I was in darkness, but rather started with an empty cup and have been filling it up since I was a child. My family grew up in the Catholic Church, and we were actively praying and practicing the teachings of the church. Thankfully, I was blessed to be brought up in a Christ-centered family that poured into that cup as I grew. I went to the elementary school that was attached to the church and attended the sacramental religious classes from elementary through high school. It was an incredible blessing to have parents that loved and cared for me every day, even if that love came in the form of strict discipline in times that were needed. Like most kids in their teens, I began to question authority and why things were done. This included practices in the church. I felt like I had a solid foundation of rules and guidelines to follow for my life, but there seemed to be something missing. I know now that the state of my heart in the matter was where I was missing the mark.
Turning the page and starting a new chapter at North Dakota State University, I knew that I needed and wanted to find a church. College was a turning point in my faith because it is where I began to pursue Jesus and my faith on my own time. Maybe that’s a poor way to describe it, but my faith was no longer governed by my parents. It was an active personal choice for me. I wasn’t quite sure that I wanted to continue going to catholic services, so I church hopped for a little while in search for a good one. I may not have had a clear idea of what I was looking for, but I knew that being in the church was going to help keep me in line at the very least. I wanted to do right by my parents, and still wanted to do right by God. Thankfully, my parents did a spectacular job of preparing me to be able to do this without making too many wrong turns. I was ready to explore and get involved with campus life or other activities around town. The first encounter that I had that really blew my mind was when I attended an on-campus ministry called Chi Alpha. I was invited to attend by some friends that I had just made in the dorms. At this service, I had a major reality check and I felt like anything that I had done in the past towards being a good follower of Jesus fell drastically short of what some of these other students had going on in their lives. I observed and heard so many students that had a passion for actively seeking the Lord in their everyday lives, as well as sharing it with other people. It was the first time that I had a really heard the message of having a relationship with the Lord. It wasn’t about checking boxes and just doing good deeds. I immediately was drinking the cool-aid and wanted to learn more about having a relationship with God and do more for His kingdom. At that point, I still didn’t really know what that meant, but I was actively searching, so I joined a bible study with the campus ministry. I began to read my bible more than I had ever done in the past in order to learn more about God’s love. It was great! My favorite bible verse at this time was Matthew 6:34, “Therefore, do not worry about the troubles of tomorrow, for today has enough troubles of its own.”
Unfortunately, as one begins this awesome journey of walking and growing with God, the temptations of sin also grow. I’ve been told many times in sermons that being a Christian isn’t the easiest thing to do, but it is by far the most rewarding. The devil wants Christians to fail. I fell into lust, immoral activities with women, viewing images on the internet, as well as becoming someone that was constantly worrying about life and money. I was a very flirtatious guy in college and it wasn’t uncommon for me to mingle with a lady at a bar or at some kind of social event. I wouldn’t sleep with them, so I thought it was ok. Now I’ve realized that I was toying with their hearts and that’s worse in my eyes. It was frustrating, which didn’t make my attitude much better for being able to remove those areas of sin from my life. Something that I struggled with through all of this was the fact that even though I failed every day, I was still loved and given the grace of God. It took many honest, uncomfortable conversations with some great friends to bring all of that stuff into the light and remove it from my life. The bible verse at that time in my life was from James 1:2-4, “Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, when we face trials of many kinds. For it is the testing of our faith that produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” I’m a work in progress.
Pressing into the word more and more has helped me check my attitude and how I approach each day. Towards my last year of college, I felt this urge to make my faith public. I was confirmed in the Catholic Church, but that was when my faith didn’t really feel like it was my own. So on Easter Sunday of 2014, I chose to get water baptized and publicly profess my faith to our Lord and Savior. I continue to press into God as much as I can every day. It is such a blessing to feel the joy that He brings to my life when I actively pursue Him. My desire is for the cup that I was given as a young boy to continue to be filled with the love and grace of Jesus in order to over flow and pour out into anyone else that I have the pleasure of meeting.