The Best Part of Knowing Jesus

The Best Part of Knowing Jesus Hero Image The Best Part of Knowing Jesus Hero Image

“Growing up, I had a fairy tale faith where everyone I knew was a Christian. Very early on, I knew that Jesus came to the earth, lived a perfect life I cannot live, died the death I deserve, and rose again three days later. Because of that, there was never a moment in my young childhood when I didn’t believe God existed. I very much knew that I needed a Savior, but I did not know I needed a Lord of my life.

“My fairy tale was interrupted when my dad became sick; his health rapidly declined and he passed away when I was eleven.

“While sitting in the hospital on the day my dad died, my older brother tried to remind our family that God is good even through this. To which I quickly fired back with, 'If God cared and was good, He wouldn’t have killed our dad.' That would be the only time that I would acknowledge my frustration out loud for the next 12 years. I would then contain my anger, doubt, and grief for many years to come. I desperately wondered where God was as we experienced three more deaths in our family. God felt distant, far, and apathetic to my life.

“By the end of middle school, the ramifications of my father’s death hit us financially as well. Unbeknownst to me and my siblings, we had fallen behind on our mortgage, and we were forced out of our home. We had nothing left.

“Through all of this, I acted like a perfect, faithful kid. I was involved in church, memorizing Bible verses and saying how God is good. Inside, I hated my life.

“At the same time, I desperately wanted my life to mean something, and I chose to believe that God could use even the hardest parts of my life for His Kingdom.

“When I was in eighth grade, I decided I wanted to become a pastor like my dad, but my intentions were still muddied and self-centered. My secret addiction to pornography added to the confusion and duplicity of my life – I said I was living for Jesus, but I was living only for myself and my comfort. I had yet to give everything to Him.

“At the end of college, I found freedom from some sin habits, like pornography, but my sins of pride and self-protection continued to build. I then began the Watermark Institute, still trying to manage my life and career my way.

“I wasn’t easy to work with – I would say every little thing that came to mind, not wanting to miss an opportunity to be heard. Because I was unable to control my tongue, this led to the breaking of trust in many relationships, including the ministry team I’d hoped to work with full-time. When I was denied a job for this very reason, the hard-to-swallow feedback helped me realize I was not a victim of my dad’s death or the financial hardships we had growing up. I’m not a victim of anything other than myself. For the first time in my life, I saw that my sin was the problem and that I needed to heal.

“Instead of going to look for other jobs in ministry, I felt like the Lord was telling me I needed to get well. I decided to seek help through re:generation, Watermark’s biblical recovery ministry. I took a part-time job at the mall and stayed on a friend’s couch. My life no longer looked exactly like I pictured it would, but through these decisions, I was able to give my full attention to getting well and focusing on my relationship with the Lord.

“I went to re:gen for control, fear of man, and self-righteousness. I rapidly came to see that I had been trying to be the lord of my own life. For the first time in my life, I realized I hadn’t surrendered everything to Him.

“In this time of recovery, I learned that God does not need me, but He wants me, and He has allowed me to have the story that I have so that I can glorify Him in everything that I do.

“Now, years later, it is my job in Watermark Kids to serve 10 and 11-year-olds – the same age I was when my life really began to fall apart. I’ve been able to walk with kids through both hard and happy experiences in life and continually remind them that God is good. He wants us to tell Him when things are hard, and He is with us through all of it.

“I’ve come to realize that the best thing about knowing Jesus is not ‘missing hell and making heaven.’ It’s knowing Jesus. There is an active, ongoing, relational God who wants to know me and you. He calls me His own, and He wants to hear from me. For the longest time, I thought I had to bottle up my emotions and act like everything was okay. Now, I see that God is big enough to handle all our emotions. Even the hard ones.”