Albert is a 4th year Biology major who enjoys drinking coffee and eating anything and everything. He is an adventurer at heart and loves a good hike or meteor shower.
I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t going to church each and every week. When I was growing up I remember getting up early on Sundays for church, and being bribed by my mom with Yu-Gi-Oh cards to go to the AWANA youth group on Friday. I memorized countless Bible verses for prizes, was known as that kid who knew the Bible stories, and was generally held as the stereotypical, obedient, example-to-all church kid. It was a close-knit community, so everyone knew everyone and as I grew up, my reputation also grew.
And so did my pride. Whenever people ask me what I was like growing up, I tell them I was a horribly prideful person. I thought I was the greatest, the talk-of-the-town, the beez kneez, the smartest, the most athletic kid alive. I expected nothing of myself but absolute excellence in comparison to everyone else.
But behind that constructed image was a boy who was afraid of a crumbling reputation. I couldn’t imagine what would happen if people thought less of me. My pride established myself as an idol and that hindered my understanding of the Gospel. The information in my head did not translate into a transformed heart. I didn’t love Christ, I didn’t reject sin in all of its ugliness, and I didn’t give my life to Him. I didn’t have a clue that my pride was a manifestation of my utter depravity.
Thankfully, by the grace of God, one of the leaders of the youth group started to meet with me regularly during middle school. One time we were hanging out at my house and he sat me down on the couch and began asking me questions. “Do you read your Bible? Do you know what the Gospel is? Can you explain it to me?” I can still vividly remember the prideful fear that filled my heart, thinking that he would find out that I couldn’t explain it. He continued to meet with me throughout middle school and helped me learn to study and love the Word.
From that point onwards, I began to read my Bible and actively engage at church. The truths that we were taught from the Word started to sink in deeply to my heart and convict me of sin. My life slowly changed and somewhere around 7th or 8th grade I was saved. God sovereignly brought me to treasure Christ in a way that I had never known before, and helped me repent of sins including my pride. It was a beautiful exchange of my sin for his righteousness.
Throughout the rest of middle school and high school, I loved verses like Romans 12:1-2: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
They exhorted me to pursue Christ-likeness in the midst of a non-Christian environment and non-Christian friends — my entire life ought to be lived for His glory!
There were certainly difficult times during those years. It was hard to fight sins like my pride, and others surfaced and grew in my heart. My spiritual life would regularly falter because of these ongoing sin or even simply the busyness of school and extracurriculars. But time and time again, I found unending forgiveness from God for my failures and outright rebellion. By the end of high school, I couldn’t wait for college because I knew that I could find a loving, Christ-centered community where I would continue to grow. And by the grace of God, I ended up at UCLA and GOC.
These past 3 years in GOC have been some of the best years of my life. Sure there have been a lot of cool extracurriculars I’ve gotten involved with and some of my classes have been interesting. But none of that compares to the joy that I have found in Christ. None of these secular (but good) things could ever bring nearly as much joy. The prideful, sinful person who walked onto campus 3 years ago is not the same as the person who is sitting at the computer writing this blog post. Sinful still? Yes. Changed? Without a doubt.
These past 21 years have been full of grace and mercy: “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).