Today I want to share something I wrote and then proceeded to keep to myself for over four years. I wrote it at a time when I was vulnerable and searching, and I have been scared to share it because I knew that doing so would highlight the flaws I wish weren’t still so visible in my life. I would have probably continued keeping it to myself if it weren’t for the events of recent weeks, but before I dive into that story, here is what I wrote in July 2014:
Most people who know me would call me “liberal” or “worldly.” It is often a joke among friends that I am the guy with questionable morals and a severed conscience. Unfortunately, it is not a joke. I have lived the majority of my Christian life standing at a crossroads, one foot firmly planted on the path of the unrighteous, and the other resting on the path of righteousness. To be honest, I only gravitate towards the “righteous path” when it is convenient (i.e., when I need to impress a fellow Christian or am feeling guilty because of sin). This morning as I lay in bed at 6 AM unable to sleep, I knew that it was time to stop living in two worlds and that I needed to make the choice of which path I want to live my life walking down.
An event that prompted me to question my stance at the head of two vastly different roads was a dream. And yes, I almost considered starting this article with “I have a dream…” but figured that might seem like plagiarism. The dream involved me researching a string of murders that had happened near my hometown years before. I was reading different news clippings about the events, and everything was fine until I got to one. As I read the details of the murder, I realized that I was not reading the article as an observer, but as the murderer himself.
The gritty details were something I felt a connection to because in the dream I had committed the grisly acts. As I finished reading the news article, I felt the most horrifying thing I have ever felt: the absence of the Holy Spirit. And as I sat at the computer with the mind of a depraved sinner who was without Christ, I felt nothing but the desire to sin. It was as if my conscience had been permanently removed from my body and all that had been left was my sinful self without the blood of a Savior atoning for all of my unrighteousness.
I awoke from my dream feeling absolutely terrified because the feeling of living my life without Christ was unbearable. It was at this point that I knew I could no longer serve the world and God. It is either one or the other. So I have decided to take my foot off of the path of the world and plant it firmly next to the foot that has casually rested on the pathway that God has created for those who want to follow Him. Because I know I cannot live a life that is void of Christ.
This revelation brings to mind the question of whether I have ever truly been a believer. That question is hard for me to answer because I professed to be a Christian when I was very young and have intermittently tried to serve Christ since then. But at the same time, I have always been quite willing to immerse myself entirely in the world because it is more enticing than living a life devoted to Christ.
So whether this is my way of reaffirming my salvation or finally accepting the gift that God has offered me, I choose to follow Christ. I recognize that Jesus is the atonement for my sins that without Him there is no way to God. I realize that Jesus is the only one who can cover my filthy rags and clothe me with righteousness so that I can stand before God as one of His sons.
I have sinned so much in the past and will continue to sin, but I will strive to live a life that is holy and blameless before God. I do not want to come to the end of my life serving two masters (when in actuality I would only be serving the world). I recognize that my life will have to change radically and that many things that I usually took part in will have to end, but I know that it is worth it. Jesus Christ is worth it.
Since writing that four years ago, I have watched my relationship with God ebb and flow. There were certainly times when I passionately followed Him, but, sadly, there have been times when my conviction to live a life sold out for Christ grew cold. And the latter was where I was all throughout this summer until someone snapped me out of the comfortable trance I was in.
I was catching up with a friend and coworker when he lovingly called me out for some problematic areas that he saw in my life. He pointed out the negative influences I surrounded myself with and said that it was apparent that my life was on a dangerous trajectory. I was taken aback by his honest take, but more importantly, I was relieved that someone was finally pointing it out.
Since I tend to be perceptive, it’s not like these issues had gone unnoticed by me; however, I had grown comfortable with the place I was in and with the people whom I surrounded myself with. But at the end of the day, I knew that I need to reorient the relationships in my life and focus my eyes back on Christ. I allowed myself to arrive back at the crossroads with my feet planted on both paths, but by God’s grace, I don’t have to keep standing there.
I see the moment in 2014 when I decided to start walking solely towards Christ as a critical part of my testimony because I did not have a real relationship with Him before then. Today I see the purposeful decision to fix my eyes back on Him as a way of building on the foundation that was laid four years ago. There will continue to be ups and downs, but thankfully, I’ve learned that I have a network of brothers and sisters in Christ who are willing to have hard conversations that will propel me towards God. And that is something I cannot adequately express my gratitude for.
Take it from me when I say how easy it is to become complacent in your Christian walk and to end up straddling two paths, and trust me when I say it is not worth it. I have wasted so much time throughout the past years courting the world, and it has done nothing for me. So if you see yourself in a similar place, seek out believers in your life who will exhort you to fix your eyes on Christ. I can’t promise that it will be easy. In fact, it’s going to be incredibly difficult, but it’s what we are called to do as believers.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).