Nick is a second year Public Affairs pre-med who enjoys being in nature, singing in the car, and hanging out with his small group homies (past & present!).
***QUICK NOTE: if anything in my testimony resonates with you, please feel free to reach out! I’d love to be your amigo (: ***
I used to think the best life someone could have was to grow up as a non-Christian so they could experience all the “joys” of life when they were young, and then at some point, when it was time to get serious, God would save them and then they’d get to go to heaven. Even though I professed to be a Christian for most of my life, this was basically how I saw the world. I knew that living by the Bible was right, but I believed that living by the world was better.
My parents, who are very faithful Christians, raised my siblings and me in the local church. I used to see that as the start to a very “boring” and “basic” testimony, but now I see it as a testament to God’s faithfulness, that he would surround me with his love and truth even before I could understand either of them. Growing up, church was the place to be! I loved Sunday School because I knew all the right answers and all my best friends were there. People would tell me, “You’re so mature for your age,” and I became prideful by their love rather than being humbled by their kindness. I was baptized in 5th grade, not because I truly understood what baptism meant, but mostly because my brother was baptized when he was in 6th grade, and I wanted everyone to know that I was more mature than he was.
Even though I grew older and learned more about what it meant to be a Christian, I continued to care more about my outward image and less on the content of my heart. It was easier to hear and follow the application part of messages than feel the convicting truth that was presented for most of the sermon. I was like the Pharisees (Matthew 23:27); I did whatever I could to look good: volunteering to pray at church, being friendly at church camp, going on missions trips, and discipling younger guys. I thought I was living so faithfully, but looking back, my heart was full of pride. I went to church not to be humbled before God but to be praised for being the “alpha.” I loved that my friends would come to me for advice, not because I had a heart of compassion, but because I was “wise” enough to help them. I idolized friendships, being liked, being thought of as smart, and being a leader, so I pursued those things more so than I did holiness.
Despite what looked like growth and maturity, I was exposing myself to more sin and giving into more temptation. It was around middle school when I started to struggle with my sexuality. I knew it was wrong, but I kept it to myself because if my sin didn’t affect my image, then I didn’t feel the need to change. For years, I would let that sin fester and grow in my heart while pretending to be a repentant Christian.
Coming to college, I realized how comfortable I was at home. For the first time, I was really challenged in my faith. I wasn’t the one with the most Bible knowledge, there wasn’t someone to make sure I was at church every Sunday, and I didn’t have the reputation I spent so many years building up. It became apparent that I needed to change my outward appearance to fit in with this new crowd of GOCers. I started to read my Bible more consistently, watch Desiring God videos, and listen to more Christian songs so that I could fit in and thrive in this new environment. But God’s word is so powerful that even my ulterior motives were no match for his truth. As I started to fill myself with the word, God started to soften my heart to his Gospel. Broken, but for the first time seeing clearly, I finally realized how helpless I was.
In my helpless state, God convicted me to address my sin. James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” I remember reading this verse and feeling not only convicted but also encouraged to confess my sin. I wanted to be healed and I knew that repentance was the only way, but talking about my sexuality was difficult. The first time I opened up about my struggle I made it seem like it wasn’t a big deal, as if it was something that I used to or sometimes struggled with, but not something that serious. Because the truth was, my flesh still didn’t want to struggle. My flesh was so convincing that my confessions came out half-hearted and scared. My flesh told me that the world was still the better way to go and that I still had time later in life to settle down and “be a good Christian.” But through God’s relentless faithfulness, I eventually was able to be transparent and talk about my struggle honestly with dear brothers. These conversations were some of the first moments in my life that I truly felt that living according to scripture was better. The Bible did exactly what it said it would do. I felt healed. I felt its power. For the first time, I felt in my heart all of the truths I thought I knew all my life.
When I used to end my testimony, I would say something nice about how even though I still struggle with sin, I know that God is better and now I’m better because of that. But, I think a more honest way to end my story is to say that all of those sins that I talked about, all of the sins I should have moved past, I still struggle with all of those sins daily. As it says in Romans 7:15, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” The more I want to desire holiness the harder I have to struggle. And sometimes, I don’t want to struggle; I want to give in. And so if I want to end my story with how good I am, there really is no nice ending. So why do I struggle if I can’t win? Why do I fight a battle that I’m going to lose? Because my story doesn’t end with me. It ends with Christ. And looking back, my story began, was carried through, and ends with Christ. God was glorified in every moment of my life, whether I wanted to be a part of it or not. And I can take heart because God promises that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). What a testament to His patience, love, and mercy! PTL!
I’m not gonna lie, it’s still hard to follow Christ. It’s hard to have everything about your life be changed after you’ve lived in such a way for so long. But God can change your heart just like he did mine. The Bible says,
“I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36
“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
Promise after promise is given to us, all with great certainty. I know now that living by the Bible is better, because it is right. My desire to pursue holiness is no longer driven by a selfish fear of man, but a genuine love for and fear of God. I couldn’t escape the truth, and rather than losing hope because I was caught in my lies, I have a newfound sense of freedom because I have a Savior who took the punishment for all of my sins. And even though my sin might change how others see me, it even more so points to how insanely great Jesus’s sacrifice was, that he didn’t just bear the sins of a “good” person, but all the sins of a truly broken sinner (Romans 5:20). So although my outward image is that of a sinner and not of the perfect person my sinful self wishes it could be, I can still rejoice because I know that Christ, the perfect man and Holy God, is in my heart, and He promises that through his righteousness, there are better things yet to come.