Before Jesus changed my life I was just a young kid that thought he had it all together. I grew up in the church and always knew about Jesus and that he died for my sins, I just didn’t know the power of what that meant and that dying to myself and to the things around me would be the result. I felt like there was a disconnect from me and the community at church, and getting involved just seemed intimidating. Missing out on the importance of truly giving my life to Christ led me down a path that was completely separate from all that God had for me. My story might be similar to many of yours; I grew up in the church but not really knowing Jesus, and in high school I went down the wrong path and chose a lifestyle of partying, drinking and girls. During college I developed a lifestyle that was completely centered on the ways of the world and eventually hit an all time low and realized I needed a change. Fortunately for me my two best friends had made that decision with me and we started attending Crave on a regular basis. It was through Crave that Jesus saved my life and showed me a better path in him and in his plan for my life. So, I chose to write my testimony a little differently in the sense that I would tell you what happened after the fact and how unbelievably blessed my life has been and the change that’s happened since I decided to give it to God.
Last summer Pastor Rick came to Crave and told us that our generation has the power to make a difference in this world. Which was great, but there was a part toward the end when he was telling the story of when he prayed a prayer as a kid and asked God to use him. I remembered him warning us before we prayed to not pray that prayer unless we were seriously ready for God to use our lives for his purpose. So I prayed that prayer that night and almost immediately things started happening that would forever change the course of my life. Shortly after Rick spoke, I attended the Radicalis festival which was a huge step for me and the first real Christian retreat that I had ever been a part of. Radicalis was amazing, but what it really put on my heart was that if I truly love Jesus the way I say I do, then why am I not living that out? Why is my life not a portrait of the Gospel, and do people even know I’m a follower of Christ? So I decided to put myself out there, not only to learn more about what that meant and would look like but to put it to practice and allow for God to use me in other people’s lives. I realized I would probably be more effective if I got involved and didn’t just cruise around Crave like some old creeper trying to talk to people. I joined the set up and tear down crew and decided to give my time that way. In a matter of just a couple weeks I had made a ton of friends here at church. God used those relationships as opportunities to use me. The first opportunity I got was to volunteer with a friend’s 7th grade girl’s small group and share a man’s opinion on dating and what a healthy Christian relationship should look like. (Which by the way was one of the scariest things I have ever done, being thrown in front of 12-15 crazy 7th grade girls is just nuts.) It turned out to be an awesome experience though and I was able to tell the girls all the things I had done wrong in my past relationships and how if I had allowed God into any of them they probably would have turned out a lot better. Shortly after that experience I was asked by the Crave staff to be a cabin leader on the Yosemite retreat, which turned out to be an unbelievable experience. Not only did God use me in other people’s lives, but used them in mine to bring me closer to him. He stirred up in me a passion to help people and teach them about the saving love of Christ and how we can live out that love to those around us. Through serving and volunteering I have come to the conclusion that someday I would like to become a pastor, and God has blessed me to be in a position where the Crave staff is now teaching me the inner workings of ministry and exactly what that looks like. I feel like God has put the Crave community in my path not just as a way to get connected to friends, but as a tool to help me fully live out his potential for my life. Since I prayed that prayer God has chosen to use me in countless ways and in lots of people’s lives, each time seeming to be more exciting and more challenging than the last.
Ephesians 3:17-19 says, “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend what is the width and length, height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses all knowledge, that you may be filled up to the fullness of God.” See, I’m trying to do what Jesus told me to in the Gospels and live this out. If I truly desire to be filled up with the fullness of God, and if Jesus’ love for me surpasses all knowledge, then I’m pretty sure I’m not even close to showing others the love of Christ. But that’s something I will pursue every day and I honestly dare you to pray that God would use you and your life and see if he doesn’t answer your prayers. After knowing how much Jesus has changed my life in a positive way and being closer to him than I’ve ever been, I hope and pray that you would allow God to work in your life like he is mine.