I grew up in a non-Christian home, but nonetheless, a home with parents and siblings I love. My sophomore year of high school, I started contemplating death and what that meant for me; I had severe hypochondria (an anxiety disorder concerning one's physical health) and was rendered virtually useless by fear every minute of every day—why would I continue to do homework or make new friends if my life were to end tomorrow? If I died tomorrow, what would happen? Eventually, by searching through different religions and finding each one to be empty and without the promise or fulfillment of peace, I came to believe that Jesus was real and he was God since an eternity with heaven and hell made more sense than anything else. For six months, I lived believing that I had to be perfect and not sin, or I would go to hell.
July 10, 2017, the Lord opened my ears (which were finally inclined to him) to his gospel of full grace and truth—almost instantaneously, my ever-present and ever-looming fear of death was transformed into a fear of the Lord and led me to worship Him. Even with my very first breath as a believer—someone with the Holy Spirit dwelling in me—I got to call the church my family. Community was no longer a bunch of people doing fun things—it was real, honest, and true brother/sisterhood. It was hard to stop getting advice and counsel from all of my friends (and family) who didn't know Him or His Word when I was (and am) still very close to them, but even more rewarding to live out the Bible with the same Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead. One month after I trusted Jesus, I started serving in church on the worship team and serving at school with Christian communities there. I have only grown to love what serving on a team does to and for community. Truly, serving with the church and for the church is something so unique and incredible because we serve on the same team! It resembles something like a military platoon, a band of brothers, if you will; a group of people bonded by the exact same vision and hope—the glory of Jesus.
God is teaching me more now than I could ever say here. John said at the end of his gospel, "Were every one of [Jesus' works] to be written, I suppose the world itself could not contain the books that would be written." Overall, though, I'm learning what real grace upon grace is—the person of Jesus, full of grace and truth. He is full of love for the world and continually setting his people free, redeeming us from the hands of the enemy. I am still learning that he loves me. Brother or sister, he loves you so much more than you think is even possible. We serve and worship a good God. All the glory to Him.