I was blessed to spend this summer with people who pushed me in my faith. Not necessarily in conversations, or convictions, but in emulation. Michael was a fellow intern; every day he emulated Jesus and invited those around him to join! Having faith is never the easiest option, but it is always the best option.
My name is Michael, and I have spent my entire life growing up in a Christian home. Growing up, my parents would always drag me to church, even on those Sunday mornings when I didn’t want to go (which was often back then). But because of their diligence, I saw their love for Christ at an early age and their infectious hearts in following him. God used them to make an impact early on in my life that following Christ was worth it. I ended up completely submitting my life to Christ during a Craig Groeschel sermon when I was 12 years old, and I followed in baptism when I was 14. The problem was, I didn’t understand faith then. My journey of understanding faith actual began a couple years ago.
I came to the faith when I was 12. I was sure in my heart that God would save me because I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. But I confused the concept of ‘coming to the faith’ with the term ‘having faith.’ God doesn’t want any of us to just come to the faith. He wants all of us to live lives of faith, completely trusting in his sovereign and redemptive plan. Faith is not just a one-time event; faith is a lifetime of trusting in God to bring redemption and restoration in all situations, especially in the broken ones. I didn’t open up my eyes to see God’s redeeming power in my own life until my second year of college.
Without going into too many details, I was in a silly high school relationship for 2 ½ years until my junior year. Of course you are thinking, “Surely this isn’t going to be another high school sob story.” Believe me it’s not, but it did cause a significant amount of pain in my life. At this moment, the cumulative effect of a silly break-up and losing a grandfather really made me question God and his faithfulness. I had never prayed so earnestly in my life for anything before, but I prayed every single night for my grandfather to heal, even though my parents and the doctors said that he wouldn’t make it much longer. But I continued earnestly in prayer because the Bible says in Matthew 7.7-8, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” But the healing never came. And my prayers for healing from the break-up did not seem to come as quickly as I had hoped either. I was trapped inside this world of believing and trusting in a God who did not seem to care about my problems, and I began to question his faithfulness.
Fast forward three years. After attending a community college for a year, I decided to go to Ozark Christian College, not knowing what I was getting myself into. You see, Ozark is a Bible college, and by Bible college, I mean we take classes that spend whole semesters focusing on certain books of the Bible, studying them one verse at a time. While there, I became enamored once again with Jesus and who he was. Like many people, Jesus had become ordinary for a large portion of my life. But by his grace, at Ozark his story became real and extraordinary to me once again. Jesus went from being a small pebble on the side of the road that I occasionally kicked around to my solid rock. I could not fathom why the God of the universe would come into world in human form, emptying himself of all his privileges (Philippians 2), to rescue me and my brokenness. It finally became personal. God was in the business of fixing broken situations and redeeming them, including my sinfulness. I knew that if Jesus would take my punishment upon himself, surely he would be in the process of redeeming every other situation in my life too. And he has continued to do so.
My first encounter of this occurred at Ozark as I watched God use the broken relationship of my past to help a high school student going through a break-up that was eerily similar to mine. I was able to pour into this young man the things I learned from my past, and I was able to watch as his relationship with Christ grew. God redeemed my broken past by using it to help bring someone closer to him. This was my first reminder that God is in the fixing business.
God was preparing me in that moment to recognize that he truly does care for his children and that he really is at work in the world, especially in the broken situations. I needed that glimpse of God’s faithfulness because 1 year later, my (now) fiancée and I were in a head-on collision. I came out with only a couple stitches, but the same cannot be said about Jonelle Delight. She broke both of her femurs, shattered an ankle, broke some toes, and was in horrific pain for months. I then watched over the next year as she fought her way back to being able to walk and jog again. It really was only by the grace of God that we both survived, and she is now able to jog without too much pain. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a flurry of emotions and questions that I expressed to God that year: Why her? Why now? How could you? Why would you? Why not me?
But throughout the whole experience, I remembered that God was in the redeeming business. I remembered that he loved to fix broken situations. And I watched as he helped Jonelle find her identity in him. And I watched as our families grew closer together through this situation. And I watched as Jonelle and I’s relationship became stronger than ever. And I watched as her family welcomed me into her family. And a little more than one year after that Easter night, I watched as Jonelle said yes to marrying me.
Sometimes we forget that God really is a good and faithful Father. To me, faith is trusting that God will redeem any broken situation because he wants to and loves to. Even though having faith in these broken situations isn’t the easiest option, it is by far the best option.