Well, I stand three days from turning 22 and I suppose another chapter of my life has been completed. Looking back, it is easy to see the way God has transformed my life in the past 21 years. There's something about the age 22 that makes you realize you are not a child anymore. It's time to put aside the childish ways and move on to bigger and better things, though I have had a blessed life thus far.
I could not have asked to be born into a better family than I have. My life says nothing about who I am, but everything about my genes and the parenting I was given. I often hear stories about the wonderful people my great-grandparents were and I am blessed to have known all of my faithful grandparents. I thank God for each one. I miss Papaw and Grandmom especially when I hear wonderful stories about them. Although it is a blessing to know that I will see them again one day. My parents are also incredible people of faith. I was born as a preacher's kid into a family of love and faithfulness to God. I knew no life outside of the church. Christian men and women have been my teachers from Kindergarten through my current work in grad school. Like any good Church of Christ boy, I was baptized on my 13th birthday by my Bible preaching father. If I only knew then, what I know today, my Christian walk might have looked a little different. If I only knew that day was an inauguration into a life of mission rather than baptism being the end goal of faith, I might have walked differently through my teenage years, but I appreciate the process and journey as much or more than the destination.
In my early teenage years, I was a good child. I honestly sought God. I only wish I would have developed spiritual disciplines in those early years that might have made my current devotional life that much better. The move to Dallas was tough. All I knew was San Diego. Why would God move me from such a wonderful place? Now I know. I would have never met Holly were it not for my grandfather's stroke and our subsequent move. Now, I am thankful, but then I could not understand. (Perhaps I should keep this understanding in mind throughout my life. It might come in handy!)
In Dallas, the theme must have been fitting in because I went to great lengths to do it. Sports were a great way into the mainstream of the guys at Dallas Christian. There are so many good memories on that football field and on the golf course. I shed tears at the end my careers because of the memories I will forever treasure. My youth group was good. I was a leader, but deep within me faith was on the back burner. Faith was not lived out, it was separated from my daily routine and behavior. I never got into deep trouble, but I never lived deeply into God either. Why did it matter so much for me to fit in? Why was faith not lived out? Why was I so sectarian about a faith that did not matter enough to implement in my daily life? These are questions I can only consider today because they were not even on my radar then.
And oh Holly! The beautiful girl I picked out my first day of school. She didn't notice me for almost three years, but it is all worth it now. Head cheerleader, beautiful smile, popular. Dating her was only a dream in my mind, but God somehow brought two totally different people with totally different agendas into a relationship that would one day foster great faith, spirituality and deep love in a marital relationship. I can safely say she is one of the best choices I have ever made. I can only wait to see my perspective 50 years from now when she has mothered a family, nurtured a preaching husband and lived a life of faithfulness. The wrinkles she will one day have will not be because of wrong decisions, but because of the tender, loving service she will have rendered to so many through her years of service for the Lord. I can only wait in expectation to see the woman she becomes!
College has been a life-changing endeavor. The Bible department has been a huge factor in my spiritual growth. Though I have struggled with many things in college, I can safely say that these four years have brought me to real faith. I have changed from a slave to sin to a slave to righteousness. I have changed from a disinterested student to a passionate grad student who cannot stop reading, thinking and dreaming about how God will use me in his church. I have changed from a single guy to a married man. I now sense a calling and purpose in life.
I feel like everything has been leading up to this moment in my life. I am now comfortable with who I am. Fitting in matters less to me than proclaiming the word of God faithfully and boldly despite persecution. I have a message to share with the world that I cannot keep silent about. Nothing will detract me from the mission I have been given. Sin no longer has its deep roots in my soul. My wife fights the fight of faith with me. Professors are taking me on a journey to deeper faith and understanding. My parents's prayers have always been a grace that has surrounded me. I may be 21, but I have been transformed by the grace of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God has brought me from the kingdom of darkness into his light. He has called me to proclaim freedom for the captives, for that is where I have been. I have been called to lead the blind, for that is what I once was.
I am happy and content with my place and purpose in life. What can be better than that? I want to thank my parents for their faithfulness that has been passed down. I want to thank my grandparents for how they have always walked in the truth and how they taught my parents to do what is right. I want to thank Holly's parents for working in Holly's life to form her into a deep woman of faith that is loyally devoted to me as I am to her. I want to thank my professors for the way they faithfully form students to become ministers not only in knowledge, but in spirituality. I want to thank Josh Ross for the impact he has been on me in example and speech. I also want to thank Prentice, Tim and Ronnie for the mentoring and friendship that you have provided. Each of you has been a servant of God sent to me in order to confirm his call on my life.
Ultimately, I thank God for the work he has done in me because of Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit. I am still early on in my journey with much to learn. However, for the first time in my life and I can say I am content in myself and in my life. Thanks be to God! Blessed be the name of the Lord!