While preparing to write my story of how I came to faith, I looked over some guides and outlines on how to begin. Most of them split it into two different sections: “Before I accepted Jesus I lived like this” and “After I accepted Jesus I lived like this.” That was a challenging approach for me considering that I asked Jesus to come into my heart at age 3. I think this is both a blessing and a struggle. On the upside of things, I was raised in a Christian home, going to church every Sunday, doing Bible studies as a family and have my parents to set great examples for me of how to imitate Christ. I definitely learned from watching them live out their faith just like it says in Philippians 3:17 to follow those who set examples in Christ.
I accepted Christ on a walk with my mom one fall afternoon. I understood the basic concept of sin and that I hadn’t lived a perfect life, even in those short three years. I asked my mom about heaven and about why Jesus had to die. She explained to me that he died for my sin and everyone else’s. I thought about this for a little and then stopped on the sidewalk and said, “I want to accept Jesus.” So we stopped right then and prayed that Jesus would come and live in my heart and forgive me of my sin. My mom had made sure that I understood what I was doing and why. I think my story of coming to faith details perfectly what Jesus said in Matthew 18:3 when he spoke of having faith like a child.
It’s been wonderful that I have been able to grow in my faith for so long, but sometimes I wish I had a more drastic and sudden conversion. Not that I wish I had a major trial or anything like that, it’s just that I often take my faith for granted. Although I have met plenty of people who do not share my faith, I sometimes feel that I don’t fully appreciate how different Christ has made my life. In addition to this, I have often wrestled with making my faith my own. Growing up with Christian parents I often felt that their faith was my faith. For a lot of my life I have simply gone through the motions of Christianity: going to church, reading my Bible and praying. It wasn’t until high school that I wanted more out of my relationship with Christ. I realized there is no way to have a personal relationship with him if I don’t at least make an effort to learn about faith on a personal level. With this realization I began to attempt to live out Jesus’s command in Matthew 22:37 about loving God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.
But this wasn’t an easy thing for me to do. I got busier and busier with each year and slowly I saw my quiet times with God get pushed to the back burner. I struggled with making my faith my own until I went to a summer leadership camp called Worldview Academy. Worldview was unlike any other camp I had been to: instead of feeding off an emotional high that lasted about a week after getting home, we studied theology and apologetics and learned to find the reason and hope in our faith. I went 3 years in a row and each year I felt more and more encouraged in my faith and the reason for it. On the third year something clicked and I felt that my faith was finally my own. It wasn’t my parents’ or my friends’ or my church’s; it was mine and I had a reason for the hope that I had, just like it says in 1 Peter 3:15.
As I entered my junior year I was met with a busy schedule filled with academics, church and extracurriculars, but I knew that God was with me through it all. One of my favorite ways to stay strong in my personal relationship with God is by talking with others about God’s word. Something that has always been important to me is relationships with others. I think we can learn so much about the Bible and the world in general from talking with people of all ages. Since freshman year I have been involved in a Bible study group with some friends from church; over the years I have learned so much just from the weekly interactions between a small group of fellow believers and time centered around God’s word. A verse that really resonates with me is Hebrews 10:25 about the importance of being surrounded by other Christians: “Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Over the years I have seen my faith change from simply being something I seemed to have inherited from my parents to something I have begun to take joy in learning more about and making my own. One verse that has shaped my life is Jeremiah 29:11, “‘I know the plans I have for you’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’” I haven’t always seen God’s purpose as being especially clear in my life, but recently I have strongly felt God’s call to further my education at a Christian college. I enjoy studying the world through a Biblical worldview and this is something I believe I can only get at a distinctly Christian school and I hope to be encouraged in my faith and studies by my professors and peers. I am excited to see what God is calling me to and what else he has in store for my faith journey.