When I was 14 I didn’t like church very much. Or God, for that matter. I knew a lot of Christians who seemed unrealistically happy and well-balanced in appearance, with smiles on their faces and always talking about the next fun social event or pizza party. I must confess that I was fairly judgmental toward them – I thought they were shallow and didn’t live in the real world, where life is full of angst and rage and injustice. They seemed perfectly content to live their happy prep-school lives. I didn’t feel that way.
I wanted to fly, to see the world for how it really was and not apologize for seeing.
Music was a big thing for me then, and many of my new friends just couldn’t get enough Christian music. But the lyrics from Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith didn’t make any sense to me, didn’t grab me on a deeper level. Those songs spoke of some idealistic world that in my adolescent mind surely couldn’t exist – not with what I saw all around me. I felt more understood when listening to Nine Inch Nails and Pantera, so I filled my head with those lyrics and doodled their name logos on my book covers in blue pen and pencil.
On a deeper level, I didn’t want Jesus to take me into some kind of false fenced-off reality. I didn’t want Jesus at all.
Obviously a lot has changed since then.
The following year, when I was 15, I was sitting in the back of my parent’s van on the way to church (yet again), and I felt very weighed down by life and my own actions. Everything felt so dark. Out of nowhere I felt the words “I can take it from you.”
I say that I felt the words because it wasn’t really audible – it wasn’t like a loud voice from heaven. It was more like how you can “feel” the bass in a song – the voice reverberated deep into my soul.
I knew that voice – I had been running from Him for about three years. I didn’t start crying or blubbering, I just said okay, Jesus, you can take my life and my sin. I give up.
What happened next can only be described as supernatural – the dark, weighed-down feeling went away completely, and in its place I felt a perfect lighthearted peace.
That’s when I began following Jesus.
“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29