Riley is a first year, Human Biology and Society major (though this may change soon…) that loves candy, God, nature, music, sports, bad jokes, and good conversation! (not in that order)
The story of my salvation is likely similar to what you’ve heard before, and that in itself is a miracle. I grew up in a Sacramento suburb as the youngest son to godly parents who attended a blessed church. For as long as I can remember, I have been surrounded by God-honoring worship, faithful preaching of the Word, and rich discussions of the Gospel. As the typical, “ideal” church kid, I could probably count the times I missed church on one hand. Reflecting on this, it astounds me that I lived so blind to my sin and ignorant of God’s Gospel for so long.
I lived quite different lives until God saved me; one at school and one at church and home. At school, my life was characterized with pride. I tried to be nice to everyone and I wasn’t a bully or a troublemaker, but my superficial kindness didn’t go very far. The intent behind every one of my actions permeated with pride that yearned to elevate and bring glory to my own life. I worked hard academically, not for the Lord as commanded in Colossians 3:23-24, but for my selfish desires of worldly success and glory. I was fixated on the coming decade of life rather than the coming eternity that God had set before. I was so blinded by pride that the promise of God’s punishment of this (Proverbs 16:5) did not even phase me. My fear of man and immense lack of fearing God led me to the sin promised in Proverbs 21:4. I focused on the shortcomings of others more than that of myself and found security and contentment in my friends and myself rather than in Christ.
My church and home life were no better. Here, my life was characterized with idolatry. Superficially, my life seemed pretty good. At church I held leadership positions, was involved with music, and could answer any question in a way that was vague enough to conceal my ignorance, yet “church-y” enough to be accepted as valid. But it was all deception. I desperately tried to display the picture of a selfless servant, but instead acted of selfishness to praise myself. My acts of “service” at church were in reality, acts of worship to myself — desires to feel important and respected. At home, even this ingenuine reflection of Christ as Lord was virtually non-existent. I continually disobeyed my parents, fought with my brother, and lived in laziness. The sin that seemed so enticing, the lusts of the flesh drawing me to worship other people, competition, comfort, and myself led me further and further from the truths of the Bible, and closer and closer to eternal separation from the One I claimed to know and love.
I deserved nothing less than death (Romans 6:23), and I knew it full well. If I were left to my own devices, I would have surely finished first in the race to destruction. But praise be to God that He demonstrated His immeasurable love to me, in that while I was still a sinner, depraved and hating God, He sent His only son Jesus Christ to die, atoning for my sin and reconciling me to God by His grace and gift of faith (Romans 5:8, Ephesians 2:8-9). This is the Gospel that revived my dead soul.
I’m not quite sure the exact moment of my salvation. As I reflect, I know it was sometime around the beginning of high school when God began to grow fruit in my life (Matthew 7:20). What amazes me the most, perhaps, is God’s sovereignty in my life. It was through my selfish and deceptive desire to “serve” in the church that God revealed Himself to me and consequently revealed my sin. Through my involvement in music, the church leadership provided many godly mentors to guide me towards loving God and His Word. It was through these servants feeding me His Word that God allowed me to begin grasping the reason we worship: God’s perfect holiness, His beautiful Gospel, and the fact that we were created to worship. In light of such majesty and glory, God revealed my sin to me for the first time as it truly was: an immense and incredible offense to a perfect and just God. Thankfully, He did not stop there. He revealed His forgiveness, His kindness, His mercy, His love; I could go on forever. In turn, by this irresistible grace and peace, I looked to him in desperation and repentance as He taught me (and still is teaching me) to surrender all to Him.
Though saved, I still sin, and in my imperfection, will continue to until I die. But all glory be to God that He has renewed my mind to hate my sin (Romans 12:2). It is through God’s faithful supplication that I can fix my eyes on Him as Lord to wage war on the flesh daily. It is through His grace and mercy that I can be continually humbled and sanctified in His righteousness. What a blessing it is for our duty of worship and submission to also be our greatest, unmatched joy. Because I will fail to put such a miracle into words, I would encourage you to consider 1 Peter 1:8-9 ESV, which reads “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
Now, God’s faithfulness is as clear to me as it has ever been. Being surrounded by wonderful (and wonderfully weird) brothers and sisters who love God and His Word has convicted me to grow my desire for Him and His Word even more, and to hate my sin more and more. The love of God manifesting through His servants time and time again here at GOC, has been an unspeakable blessing, and I have nothing but excitement in my heart to see God work in the years to come.