“Seventeenth-century Puritan preacher and author, Thomas Watson, was quoted as saying, ‘Till sin be bitter; Christ will not be sweet.’ That’s a saying that’s so relevant to my life,” said Dustin Flueckiger. “For years, I looked for purpose and pleasure everywhere but in Christ. Finally, it was clear that if I was ever going to be free, I’d have to lose everything.
“I’d characterize my teenage and young adult years as very aimless. I did not know the Lord or have any idea what it meant to be a godly man. I started drinking at age 12, and weed, porn, pills, and tobacco followed. I was a social chameleon and played football to earn the approval of others.
“In high school, a long-time friend of mine named Garret became a believer, and he stepped away from some of the things we were doing. He had an inner confidence about him that I could not explain at the time, and his example impacted me. I wanted the kind of life he had, but I did not want to do what it took to get it, so I took a different route.
“I transferred in and out of five different colleges before I graduated from DePaul with a business degree. I moved in with my brother and his friends in Chicago after college, making next to nothing as a waiter by day and partying at night.
“During this time, I started dating girl who had the same inner confidence that my friend, Garret, had, because she was also an outspoken Christian. I followed her down to Dallas when she moved, and we both started going to The Porch at Watermark. Eventually, when we broke up, I was left in Dallas all by myself. I did the only things I thought I was good at; I made friends and partied.
“Finally, my life felt so empty, I had no other choice but to allow God to take control. I cried out to the Lord and asked Him to show me the purpose for my life. I was done with pretending and wanted a relationship with Jesus. It wasn’t instantaneous, but the Lord slowly began changing my heart.
“I got to know more about the Lord as I started to attend The Porch, and the Lord slowly surrounded me with new, faithful friends. As I studied the Bible and built relationships with other guys in community, it was clear that God is who He says He is, and I knew that serving the Lord was what I wanted to give my life to.
“I also wanted to equip younger kids to know and follow Jesus, so I began serving with Watermark Students. When I started dating Kallie again (the girl I followed to Dallas and who is now my wife), she was also leading a group of students. We both had the privilege to learn about God’s Word right alongside middle school kids.
“The Lord was faithful to preserve me during all those years of unfaithfulness, and He has used my gift of making friends quickly to tell others about my relationship with Christ. He has changed everything about my life and allowed me to serve others. I’m living proof that God uses hurting and broken people for His purposes, in spite of themselves.
“I pursued a career in nursing for a while in Phoenix but felt like I needed to go in a different direction. So, when I heard about the Watermark Institute, I applied and was accepted. At the time, we had more than $100,000 in student loan debt, so I worked as a travel nurse and paid off the debt in 10 months. Then, with two kids and a baby on the way, we packed up and moved back to Dallas.
“The beauty of being part of the Watermark Institute was the opportunity to become even more rooted in my knowledge of who God is. The leaders here have shepherded, equipped, and shaped me. When I started the Institute, my wife and I had moved ten times over four years, and we were openhanded to whatever God had for us. Now, a couple years later, I am fulltime on staff at Watermark and still being reminded that in the midst of change, God is faithful.
“Following Jesus is not always easy, but God has been faithful to show us that relationships are what matter. He has guided us and kept my family in Dallas by providing community and relationships that have showed us we are so cared for and known by others. I am able to invest in my family and in my marriage through the opportunities we have to invest in others.
“If I hadn’t gone through that period of aimlessness, I might not understand that Christ always had a purpose for my life. searched for meaning apart from Christ and ended up with absolutely nothing. When I came to the end of myself, Christ saved me. Whether I am in plenty or in want, God’s faithfulness to my family and me has allowed me to find my purpose and identity in Christ alone.”