The Narrow Gate

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“The Lord has extended so much grace and forgiveness to me that it has changed my heart. In spite of my sin and struggles, the Lord loves me. I know that He is life, and life is only found in Him.”

“I learned about Jesus when I was in high school through Young Life Camp, where I trusted Christ when I was 16,” said Chandler Wicke. “I attended church near my home in McKinney, but didn’t get the kind of discipleship I needed. I didn’t understand God’s Word well, although I did daily devotionals and answered the devo questions more out of duty than anything else. I knew the right answers, but I did not have a personal relationship with Christ.

“I had a warped view of the Lord and blamed Him for the dysfunction I saw at home with my parents’ addictions. I wanted to get as far as I could away from that dynamic when I went to college at University of Arizona in Tucson. I’d hoped to be in the dance program but was not accepted. That was the first in a series of disappointments and rejections. After the relationship with my first boyfriend ended, I started drinking, engaging in inappropriate relationships, and abusing Adderall. I slowly became everything I did not want to be, but those things numbed my pain, so I continued.

“My senior year in college, I got a wakeup call. I connected with a Bible study on campus, and I also started working as a babysitter for a Christian family. Observing their family first-hand showed me what living out the gospel was all about. That couple was so kind to ask me questions about faith and share what the Lord had done in their lives. That family was an important first step in the Lord turning my heart back to Him.

“After college, I moved back to Dallas and started looking for a job. A friend invited me to visit The Porch, Watermark’s ministry to young adults in their 20s and 30s. I felt a little out of place the first time I attended. I thought only perfect Christians were there and didn’t think I belonged. But, I returned each week because the truth of God’s Word kept hitting me.

“I heard a message at The Porch on Matthew 7:13-14, where Jesus explains that the gate to destruction is wide but the narrow path leads to life in Him. My life was a wreck at the time, and I was chasing after things that would never bring me life. That is when I learned that the Lord wanted a relationship with me and that His free gift of grace could make me a new creation. God was real, and He had been pursuing me all along.

“I also went through Watermark’s biblical recovery ministry, re:generation, although I was afraid of it at first. I didn’t want to look like I had a big ‘you’re broken’ sign on my shirt, but the Lord was so kind to peel back the layers of struggles I’d been dealing with for years and start to heal my heart. Going through the steps of recovery made me hungry for God’s Word, and I began reading various books of the Bible with my community group and started to see growth in my life.

“As both a participant, and later, a leader in re:gen, I saw first-hand the life change that is possible through faith in our living God. It was such a gift to live in community with other people and be actively involved in our larger church family – to be part of the body of Christ.

“Community was a new thing for me, and that’s how I met my friend, Brittany Smith. She encouraged me as I continued to build relationships with other believers. There were lies I still believed about my sin struggles, and I wondered if I could really build trust and be authentic. But Brittany kept encouraging me to be transparent. Now I have a group of friends who love me, and confession and authenticity come more easily because of the girls the Lord has brought into my life. When I run away from Christ, these girls are faithful to pursue me and bring me back.

“Today the Lord has given me a passion for discipling kids and helping them know more about the Lord. I have served high schoolers through Young Life and have shared my story with kids who are walking through many of the same things that I did years ago. I’m able to tell them how the Lord is working in my life and how, even as I struggle, I can surrender and ask Jesus for help as He walks along with me.

“If I were talking to a girl walking through the same things I have, I’d want her to know that she is loved and cared for by Jesus, even in her rebellion. He never stops pursuing us, so it is never too late to turn to Him. The Lord has extended so much grace and forgiveness to me that it has changed my heart. In spite of my sin and struggles, the Lord loves me. I know that He is life, and life is only found in Him.”