“Are you happy with what you have?,” said Samuel Scott. “Are you listening to what the world has to say about money, relationships, and the ‘good life?’ I was that guy for a long time, drinking the Kool-Aid of the culture around me and coming up short every time. I had no idea that no matter what I demanded of myself or got out of life, it always felt empty. It would never be enough.
“Growing up, my dad was Protestant and my mom was Jewish, so I was raised 50% Christian, 50% Jewish, and 100% confused. I thought of God as a man in the sky, when I thought of Him at all.
“I dealt with bullying during my childhood and high school years, but because my faith was so mixed-up, I didn’t know how to respond to it. In the search for peace, I even claimed to be Buddhist for a time. My life was on very shaky spiritual ground by the time high school was over.
“The freedom of college life led me to make many poor decisions. My goal was to get good grades so I could make as much money and have as much fun as I wanted after graduation. I joined a fraternity and started partying like those around me. I was addicted to pornography and in an inappropriate relationship which led to even worse choices. Following after everything the world had to offer eventually led to four citations for underage drinking and public intoxication.
“I had lots of friends, a girlfriend, and realized I was doing everything the world told me I should do, but had no satisfaction with my life. Fortunately, a friend invited me to The Porch, a ministry for young adults at Watermark. I was blown away at the joy and authenticity I saw in the people I met. Their lives and friendships had meaning, and I wanted what they had. At the same time, I was stubborn, and my involvement at Watermark was really inconsistent. When the relationship with my former girlfriend ended, I developed a real sense of self-hatred and wondered why it seemed like I was living in the bottom of a pit.
“I heard a message at The Porch about dating, and realized that I was doing everything (not just dating) exactly how it wasn’t supposed to be done. I was convicted by my sin and knew that I needed to start listening to what the Lord was saying. I signed up for Equipped Disciple classes at Watermark, and the first thing I did there was memorize Ephesians 2:8-9. That Scripture was really a lightning bolt moment for me.
“I realized that I had never put my faith in the free gift of grace available to me through Jesus Christ. I was convicted of my sin, but a relationship with Christ wasn’t about behavior modification. I could never earn or deserve what Christ had done when He died on the cross for my sins. All I needed to do is trust in His grace. I did that, then put my hand to the plow and never looked back.
“After I trusted Christ and started living God’s way rather than my own, depression and purposelessness were replaced with joy and meaning in life. God continued to work in me, and it took time to deal with my spiritual immaturity, pornography use, and my relationship with money. I signed up to serve at The Porch, participated in re:generation, Watermark’s recovery ministry, and joined a community group. God used all those things to change my heart and sanctify me. It was not an overnight process, but slowly, I started to look more like a child of God and less like the person I used to be.
“I went all-in on sharing the story of what God had done for me with others, sometimes here in Dallas and other times on international discipleship trips to Ethiopia. Over the last five years, God has given me opportunity after opportunity to talk to guys living the same materialistic, porn-addicted lifestyle I once lived. I’m able to tell them that God isn’t here to rip us off. He’s here to invite us into the only relationship and adventure that will truly satisfy or matter. In spite of everything I’ve done, Christ sacrificed Himself on the cross so that I might have abundant, eternal life. That’s a free gift that none of us can ever earn or deserve.
“I’m no longer confused on how to respond or where to run for peace when challenges in life come my way. Before, when my life was built on the shaky foundation of the world, I ended up flat on my back when adversity came. Today, the winds and rain still come, but my life doesn’t get washed away because Christ is the solid rock.”