If you haven't read Part I, click here
My adventure toward God escalated after high school. I emphasize this because it was the life changing moment for me – the one that I will talk about for the rest of my life. Something happened to me in my first year of college that forever made me a different person. Let me explain:
I arrived on campus for the first time as a student to begin band camp for the university marching band. The experience was nothing like I ever had before. We rehearsed in the blazing hot sun for ten hours a day with breaks for lunch and dinner for ten days straight. The experience was made worse because I was in drum line playing maybe the most awkward and cumbersome instruments in history: the tenor drums, aka quads. By the end of day three I was hating my life, and just wanted it to be over. I was beginning to regret ever signing up for what I thought would be a relaxing extra-curricular activity of playing music for football games.
I wasn't alone for this ride, though. Our whole drum line bonded throughout the week, and soon I found a sense of belonging that I wanted for so long. One man in particular made sure I felt at home with the rest of the line. His name was Mike, and he was a fourth year veteran of the band. He patiently worked with me to improve my technique and to help me practice my parts. He sat with me at lunches, and engaged in conversation with me in a way that truly made me feel accepted and wanted within the community.
One day he asked me about a necklace I was wearing. I got it from a retreat in high school, it had a cross on it, and I hadn't taken it off since the day I got it. Clearly, its ceramic pendant was well worn, and the hemp was frayed in the ends despite melting them down. His question caught me by surprise; I thought most people took my necklace to be merely a thing I wore, since nobody ever asked me about it. We talked about how it was from a high school ministry that works in small groups late after school to encourage one another in struggles through conversation about God. Our conversation took us to Qdoba, and soon he introduced me to a world of Christianity where God isn't a far off deity in the sky, but is instead a close and loving father who wants a real and personal relationship with us.
I started regularly attending a Christian campus ministry called Cru. They met every week to worship Jesus and listen to someone talk about the Bible. The mission statement was, "Cru is a community where the Gospel captures hearts, transforms lives, and launches men and women on a lifelong adventure with Christ," and it certainly did that for me! For weeks I heard the gospel preached to me, and I heard over and over again about Jesus who loved me enough, even at my worst, to die for all of my sins so that I may be considered his child. This blew my mind, to know that there is someone out there who knows all of who I am, and yet, even while understanding the bad parts of me that I tried my hardest to forget about, loves me enough to die for me. I was afraid of intimacy, thinking that it would only lead to disappointment and sadness. To find out that someone will always love me for who I am was completely refreshing.
That winter, I went to a conference held by Cru. For five days, more than a thousand college students gathered together to praise and learn about Jesus. I saw that there was another side of following Jesus that was worth exclaiming and being joyful about, and that there was something about these people that was fundamentally different in the way they looked at life. For them, thinking about God was an every day blessing that was welcomed into their lives with excitement. I had never experienced something like that before, and I made a decision right then and there to dedicate my life to serving and glorifying God in whatever I did.
From that day on, I started to hear God speaking to my insecurities, reassuring me about our relationship and his love for me. He is showing me how glorious he is and how much he deserves to be talked about and praised! That day began a healing process that is still working in me today...
"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."