I wanted my life to matter.
When Jesus saved my soul in July 1993, I was a complete mess. I had just turned 15 years old a month prior and was very unhappy with who I was, where I was, and what direction I was going with my life. I was never into the party scene because it seemed stupid and empty, so instead I spent the majority of my time doing “meaningful” things like watching hours of afterschool T.V. and analyzing the music and lyrics of Rage Against the Machine and the musings of 90s grunge bands.
I expected everything about my life to change for the better after I got saved. I wasn’t expecting sunbeams or warm and fuzzy feelings… But I wanted my life to matter. I wanted a girlfriend. I wanted a reason to smile. I wanted to have confidence in myself. I wanted to move somewhere exciting. I wanted to be a rock star. I wanted to know what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted Jesus to give me everything I wanted.
I walked away from him because I was hurt...
I started going to youth group on Wednesday nights, I went to church every Sunday morning and night, I even tried to listen to popular “Christian” music (No thanks; the only cheesy stuff I like is on my French fries). The truth is, I was still miserable. I knew I was saved, but the only thing that really changed about my day to day life was that I went to church. Honestly, I wasn’t always there for Jesus. I was just hoping to get a girlfriend.
Fast forward a few years and I was still living on autopilot. I wanted to be different, so I began to change everything about me. I changed my hair color and clothes, wore dog chains, painted my pinky nails black and purple, started watching black and white films, and got into Christian metalcore because they were the only Christian bands that actually said something of substance. I eventually got the girlfriend and then I was even more miserable because she was psycho. The day I broke up with her was also the day I broke up with Jesus. I walked away from him because I was hurt, angry, and disappointed that being saved didn’t bring me everything I wanted. I quit church, I quit college, and I got a job stocking shelves at the local grocery store for $6 an hour.
Following Jesus isn’t about being led to another destination
That’s when I met her, the woman who would become my wife. Kara was beautiful, a Christian, and seemed to have a lot of things figured out even at her young age. She invited me to church and I went, not because I wanted what was at the church, but because I wanted another girlfriend. That first Sunday changed my life. This church preached the Word, believed the Word, and lived the Word. I had never seen anything like it. I wanted it. I needed it.
It wasn’t long until I wasn’t going just so that I could sit next to Kara; I was going because every message spoke right to my soul, and every week was an invitation to follow Jesus with my life. I realized that believing in Jesus and following Jesus were two completely different things. I got discipled. I began to change. I could look people in the eye. I could look myself in the eye. I found myself smiling. I was content with where I was in life. I was growing in my relationships with the Lord and my future wife.
I realized that I’d always had a skewed view of what following Jesus meant. The entire time I was upset that God wasn’t moving me to another location, I was missing the point. Following Jesus isn’t about being led to another destination; Jesus is the destination. I don’t have to be concerned with where God wants me or with who God wants me to be in the future because both of those questions are already answered right here and now by following Jesus. He is the destination.