Friday, August 15, 2008

In the Light

When I told the story of my baptism on Monday, I found it really easy to just gloss over my whole story of coming to know Christ. As I thought about it through the week, I was more and more convicted of how I wasn't really telling the story at all if I didn't tell it all, and not telling the story takes so much of the glory away from God, and just makes it sound like a cool story of something that happened to Katrina. And that isn't the intent of baptism at all!

Yes, it was a cool day in my life. But an even cooler day for Him, as 16 people publicly professed their faith and told the story of what He has done in their lives. While I knew when I wrote the first post that I should tell my whole story, I know now that it's something that shouldn't wait, and deserves to be told. So here goes. Hold on tight.

Before I came to really know Jesus, I looked a lot like a Christian. I knew Bible stories, and had memorized words to songs, and could probably have fooled a lot of people into believing I was a Christian. Outwardly, everything looked good. Inwardly, I was a mess. I was anxious. I worried a lot. I beat myself up whenever I wasn't perfect. I thought I should have been able to make everything in life work on my own, without looking for or accepting help from anyone else. With that said, for awhile, I seemed to be doing ok this way. I was able to make it work on the outside, despite how much it was tearing my apart on the inside.

Looking back now, I can see two clear times in my life where I battled pretty severe depression. The first, in my senior year of high school, I wasn't able to hold things together very well on my own, but I had great friends and family who were able to help get me through it, and at least get enough of a band-aid to fix things temporarily. I realized then that I couldn't do it on my own, but I turned to earthly relationships as a fix. Then, in my junior year of college, about two and a half years later, things started to fall apart again. But this time, worse than before. I was trying hard to make life look good, and I started to avoid people who may have been able to at least help because I didn't want to burden them with my problems. The more I did this, the worse things got. I had trouble getting out of bed to make it to classes I loved. I just didn't see the point in going. I passed up opportunities to go out and see friends. I avoided conversations with my parents because I didn't want to crack in front of them.

The day my grandfather died in May of 2003, a friend of mine (let's call him R) happened to call to invite me to church with him. With the news of my grandpas death, I think I was just vulnerable enough to accept his invitation to go. I can't say anything special happened that day, except that I saw a friend who cared about me, and he took me to a church where people had something cool. It was appealing enough that I started to go with him fairly regularly. I was still battling my depression on my own, but I was starting to hear about having this "personal relationship with Jesus."

One day in July of 2003, I was headed to church again with R when he warned me that the service that night was going to be a little heavy. A college aged girl at the church had committed suicide the week earlier. I immediately saw myself in her. I had had thoughts of doing the same thing many times. That night, I heard a message about finding hope in Jesus Christ, and basically not having to do life on your own. I heard the verse that says "Cast your worries on Him, because He cares for you." - 1 Peter 5:7 - and for the first time, it made sense. I told R what was going on in my heart and head and about my depression. He drove me home that night, and I remember so clearly falling on the living room floor at my parents house, just sobbing, and telling them what was going on. I finally realized that I couldn't do it on my own, and I couldn't even do it with the help of my friends or family. I needed something more.

Within the next few weeks after realizing it was hopeless to try to fix things on my own, I went back to church with R, heard the gospel story, and finally accepted help from the only real way to get it - Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

I wish I could say that the instant I became a Christian, life became wonderful and all of my problems were gone. That would be great, but it just isn't the case. I still worry and get anxious. But the difference is, now I have a source of peace and a God to fall back on, who I know is the answer. On those days where I sense myself slipping back into a bout of depression, or the nights I lie in bed crying myself to sleep, I know I can turn to a God who knows me by name, and who knows every tear that rolls down my cheek, and I know that I don't have to do it on my own. And that gives me a sense of peace I had never had before.

"What's going on inside of me? I despise my own behavior. This only serves to confirm my suspicions, that I'm still a man in need of a savior. I wanna be in the light, as you are in the light, I wanna shine like the stars in the heavens. Oh, Lord be my light and be my salvation, cause all I want is to be in the light... All I want is to be in the light."

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