I asked Jesus into my heart when I was five years old, but it would take twenty years and an eviction notice before I let him back in as Lord of my life.
I’ve always been an idealist, a dreamer of dreams. Too often I’ve lived in a world of fantasy and story and tasted bitter disappointment when life inevitably fell short of the pictures conjured by imagination. In response, I shrank from the world’s slings and arrows, only to find myself trapped by the greater agony of alienation from God and man.
Like Siddhartha in Herman Hesse’s novel, I spent the majority of my three decades of life in a desperate search to get it right. Right beliefs, right actions, right feelings. I tried the way of ascetic discipline and religious deeds for twenty-two long years before I finally gave up, exhausted and defeated by my own wretchedness. Instead of following Paul’s example and crying out to the One who could save me from this body of death, I gave into despair. I could never be good enough, so why torture myself trying?
Shortly after my 21st birthday, I walked away from the repressed pharisaical life that never did anything more than whitewash the oozing blackness of my heart. Plunging heedlessly into a debauched hedonism, I turned my back to God in defiant anger. How dare He demand perfection from me when we both knew it to be impossible? I spat in His face with my willful rebellion.
Bereft without any spirituality, I studied the world’s religions, hoping to find a system that would assuage my pride and let me keep my heart away from the demanding, spiteful god I had constructed for myself. Nothing satisfied.
Through it all, the true Triune God persistently wooed me, administering His love to my hardened heart in doses small and large through kind strangers, concerned family and accepting friends. His relentless lovingkindness slowly but surely healed the rutted scars of repeated abuse - even though the abuse was almost entirely self-inflicted.
This isn’t a feel-good saccharine Sunday School story. My sins are offensive and ugly. There are some who don't want to be confronted with the real danger posed by the powers of darkness and the real capacity for evil in the human heart, and some might be repulsed by what I did and said.
Just as my story has too much sin for the self-righteous, it contains and too much Gospel for those who relish reading about life’s seamy underbelly. It centers on the most offensive topic of all – God’s exclusive plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. There are still many, even in churches, who stumble over the Chief Cornerstone.
I have confidence that comes from a calling. There is someone or perhaps many someones out there who need to read this story, and I’m the one to tell it. I will state the facts plainly, warts and all. I will leave no darkened corners, no secret passageways, but will shine the light of Christ over my life so that my Savior may get the full glory for the work He is still carrying out to completion in me.