I grew up how anybody would have wanted to have grown up. My parents loved me, provided for me, and taught me how to live life. I was a well mannered kid. I followed all the rules. I actually liked all the rules. I liked being told what to do. This lead to me being the favorite of many of my teachers, and it even won me the title of “Student of the Year” in my elementary school when I was 6.
My parents brought me up going to church and taught me to have a Biblical view of the world. I prayed the prayers they wanted me to when I was 5 years old, and felt assured that if I died I would not go to Hell and be prodded by a burning pitchfork for the rest of eternity.
But it wasn’t until the summer I turned 15 that I realized “fire insurance” prayers only told a small portion of the good story God wanted me to learn. Something was missing. Life wasn’t perfect. I wasn’t perfect. For every “nice Steve day” I had two “grumpy Steve days.” I hated imperfection. I began to hate myself. Though I never considered suicide or anything to that extreme, I still felt a deep longing for more. I wanted to know how to live, but people’s answers weren’t sufficient.
But then I turned to the Bible. I read wisdom, and I found the answers I craved. I learned that God originally made everything to be perfect, but that perfection was broken by a disease called sin. I learned that God had sent someone named Jesus to “make all things new.” In Jesus I had hope. I found peace. I was filled. If I was a car, the Bible became my “owners’ manual.” I could consult it to see how I was created to function. I tasted a good God, and I have never found anything better. You could say that I had finally found life as it was meant to be lived.
Since then, my life has not been perfect. I still struggle with “grumpy Steve days.” But now my imperfections point me to a God who is perfect and is giving me more time (infinately more) to understand His perfection. As I get to know His perfection, I learn how to function the way I was created to, and to have healthier expections for myself. I find rest, comfort and fullness in that.
Recently, I had a difficult winter as I worked full time to share my good God with university students in Tilburg, Netherlands. There I found myself (an American) and my beliefs to be in the minority. Students would routinely tell me they didn’t have time for God and that He wasn’t relevant anymore. I couldn’t help but wonder if they were right. Had I really committed my life to something that is just a made-up idea? This question kept nagging at me. I grew exhausted from the stress. When I finally asked myself why I believed, I cannot deny the fact that my life is the fullest and truest when I follow the instruction manual of my Creator. Now I try to press into that truth more and more.
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