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God’s Mercy on an Undeserving College Student

• Jonathan Reeves

Posted in Discipleship, Evangelism, Gospel, Grace, Life in the Church

By Jonathan Reeves

My testimony isn't spectacular in that one life-altering event happened that changed the course of my life. My testimony hinges on the fact that the God of the universe was faithful throughout my life to put me in just the right place at just the right time, that I might be able to encounter him in just the right way. I'm no different from most people in this church. God found me and met me right when I needed to be met all throughout my life. This is my testimony of the kindness of the Holy God to meet the greatest need of my life.

From my childhood until about 19 years of age, I can honestly say that I was not the best person in the world. I didn't murder anyone, but I was certainly far from perfect. That's still true today, by the way. My parents raised my brothers and me in a manner that was based on morals, but there was no mention as to why we were supposed to do those things. I obeyed my parents out of a desire simply not to be punished. We never went to church, but we were involved with activities that exposed me to the idea that there might be something greater in the universe than just me.

I would never have claimed that I wanted God in my life. I would have never claimed that I wanted Jesus Christ as my personal savior and the one whom I willingly chose to follow. In fact, I ran in the completely opposite direction. I lied to my parents and friends. I hated authority and was often deceitful in putting on a good face to please those in power, whether that was parents, teachers, or bosses at jobs that I held. I loved everything the world had to offer and had no desire to give it up. I chased it until the world had nothing left to offer, and I chased it hard.

Hearing about Christ but not quite believing

This all changed in the summer of 2006, but there is some backstory that prepared me for that summer. During my senior year of high school I got involved with a physical therapy clinic as a volunteer. The volunteer coordinator was a Christian, and, after I spent some time with her, she introduced me to Jesus Christ and invited me to church. She told me that Jesus was the son of God who had come to earth, lived a perfect life and had died for the sins of anyone who would confess that he is Lord and savior. She told me that the things I've already mentioned - the lying, the deceitfulness, etc. - were wrong by God's standard, and they were offensive and against what God was for. She told me that Jesus had died on a cross for me to forgive those things that I had done against God. Around that point I prayed a prayer and thought that I had changed. Boy, was I wrong about thinking I had changed. That was short lived, and the next year was all the proof I needed that there had been no change in my heart. I spent about four months continuing to go to a church before I graduated from high school, and then it was off to college.

Within two months of heading to college and losing any moral compass that I had at home, my rebellion against God became obvious. I was engaged in open rebellion and had no desire to stop. I was involved in a toxic relationship that led me to compromise many aspects of my so-called faith and had no desire to get out of it. I lived life how I wanted to and did what I wanted to do. Freshman year came and went, and that's when God started working in ways that I would not have expected.

The night that changed everything

I ended the relationship I had been in for almost a year. My grandfather, who was a faithful Christian, passed away. My grandmother basically walked out of my life. Things weren't great at home either. My world was broken down bit by bit until I had nothing left to stand on. I had nowhere to turn and no one to run to. After the viewing, the day before my grandfather's funeral, I sat in our hotel room completely broken and missing my grandfather. I had my Bible and some Christian music that I bought my senior year of high school and started to look for all the passages I could find on death. Eventually I found a consistent theme in the Bible. I found that Jesus died for my sins, that he was raised from the dead and all who believe in him will be raised to new life again. It was here that I was confronted with Jesus, the God-man who was the first to be raised from the dead. It gave me comfort that those who died in Christ would also be raised when he returned. It also reminded me that Christ was different than regular men. He was perfect and holy. Men were not. He was Different from me. This, however, was only part of the revelation I received that night.

Christ also demands that we call him Lord and Savior. Throughout my life I had been willing to call him savior and receive eternal life, but clearly did not want the responsibility associated with Jesus being the one over my life. I truly felt convicted about this fact. I asked God for forgiveness in my unwillingness to obey his commandments. Then I pleaded for grace to walk out my life in a manner worthy of Jesus' death on the cross for my sins. I believe that I received Jesus as my savior that night and committed to live for the glory of God.

That night I gave my life to Christ and things really did change that moment. I stopped lying because it felt disgusting. I started submitting the steps I was taking in life to the Lord and that has led me to where I am today.

First steps of faith

I got involved in a strong local church the following fall when I got back to school, which also led me to get involved with the church's college ministry which had a strong presence on the campus. The fruit that God bore from those two places was tremendous. I built deep relationships with people in those two places that I still have today. I found my endearing wife there. I started growing into the man I am today because of those people and the work that God was able to do through them.

There's lots to my story than just this, but I don't think I have time to get to all of it here. I hope what you see from my life is that God has directed my steps all my life. I firmly believe that. He brought me from a lost, rebellious child to seeing his great glory and trusting in Jesus for my salvation. He's my savior and my king, and I hope that you will let him be yours as well.

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