Thursday, February 16, 2006

What's Missing?

I always looked like a Christian. Most people at my Christian school didn’t know the difference. I dressed according to the rules and didn’t talk back to my teachers. I was quiet and almost always respectful. My classmates voted for me when asked who was the most spiritual in my senior class. I even turned in several classmates for breaking the rules. Sometimes when I was with my friends I would stand up for what was right, but not always. I was offered a beer several times and refused. But when I was with my friends the radio was blaring. And we used lots of words that were off limits for Christians. Loud mouthed and obnoxious described me quite often. There were other things I got involved with but very few people knew.

One day while hanging out with some of my older friends, we met a new girl. She was the daughter of a newly saved man who was married to a non-Christian woman. Her father wanted her to get to know some Christian teens, so he allowed her to go out with us. (If he had only known what we were like!) Then it happened. My mouth was spewing the usual filth when she looked at me. "If you’re a Christian, I don't want to be one!" That hit pretty hard, but the feeling didn’t last. I continued down the same path because it was fun. And that’s what life’s all about, right?

After graduation, I talked about getting married to my girlfriend. Her parents were promising a trip to Hawaii. I had actually saved $1000 which was a huge accomplishment for me. I had a car and was thinking about college. But my life was a mess. It was all about me and what made me feel good. So, when the choice came down to a convertible or college, who would have guessed that I would choose college and a Christian one? I can’t explain why I did that. But I did.

The first week away from everything was good for me. I actually cried when my parents left. Eight hundred miles away from my music, girlfriend, and car, I found what I had been missing all that time. That Friday the president of the college spoke a message that hit me hard. He seemed to be talking directly to me. He said something like, "You grew up in a Christian home and went to a Christian school. You look and talk like a Christian, but you’re living a lie." It was like a slap in the face! He seemed to know me and I couldn’t stop listening.

That was the turning point for me. That evening I prayed with one of my art teachers and submitted myself to God. I had already believed in Jesus, but until then I had been allowing my sinful nature to have control. That semester, the Lord had control of my life and began to change me. The environment kept me from some of the influences that had been too much for me to handle. I began to see how joyful the Christian life can be. Reading the Bible was something I wanted to do. And God answered my prayers. This was what godly people had been trying to convince me about. But until that point, I wouldn’t give in to the Lord. Now he has me and I’m glad.

As I look at the teens at our church and Christian school, I understand where they are coming from. They want all that the world offers. But they don’t understand the destructiveness of it all. I wish they would listen better than I did. Many of them are running after the same things I did. Most of them look like Christians. They dress like the rest of us. They smile and say Christian sayings. But I can tell that something is missing. And I want to help.

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