So my story. Well, growing up Amish I had learned about Jesus and knew about Jesus. When I was 14, I got really tired of going to church and didn’t want to go to church anymore. I thought it was boring and I thought God was boring and I didn’t see anything exciting about who He was. I just really didn’t know Jesus.
Since I didn’t want anything to do with God, I started smoking weed and drinking. At the age of 16, it got worse. I was partying and going crazy. My life was so empty. For two years, that’s what my life was.
Then when I was 18, I had the opportunity to go to Florida on vacation with some friends from the church I had been going to for a while. At this point, I was going to church mainly as a comfort thing to make it seem like my life was put together. I thought, ‘Cool, I get to party on the beach for two weeks!’ So, I went but I didn’t party. I didn’t do the things I thought I was going to be able to do. The friends I went with had something different about them. They had this peace that I didn’t have. Of course, now I know it was Jesus that they had, but I just didn’t understand. They were having fun, but they weren’t drinking. I would drink, but for some reason I didn’t want to get drunk. I was so amazed at the lives they were living. I told them, “I want to stop all the junk I’ve been doing. I don’t know how, but I want to quit. I’m done. It’s so empty.” After telling my friends that I was done, I went to the beach and sat there thinking, ‘Wow. God, you are just amazing.’ He was drawing me and pulling me in and showing me who He really was.
One night, I was laying in my bed listening to Christian music and I had this sense that God was speaking to me and bringing me to Him. I had no idea what was going on. I couldn’t sleep and after a while, I got this picture in my mind of Jesus standing in the doorway saying, “Come to Me. Come to Me. Jacob, come to Me.” I didn’t know what that meant, so I asked my friend to pray for me. While he was praying for me, I felt this physical weight leave my shoulders. It was unlike anything I had ever felt before.
I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to give my life to Jesus, so I gave my life to Jesus. I felt so free and new. We were all in a circle praying and I felt Holy Spirit, even though I didn’t know what that was at the time, send a burning feeling down my arm and it stopped right at my heart. I had no idea what was happening, but it set a fire in my heart. It was so real and it was burning so bright inside me. I wanted to know God. What I had just gone through was better than any high or drunken night I had ever had. I was totally set free. I was completely changed. I didn’t even want to do any of the things I had been doing anymore.
We left Florida to go back to Ohio a couple days later and when I got home all I did was read my Bible. It still didn’t make sense, but I kept telling God I needed to know Him. People began telling me that what I have is going to die down and I need to relax a little bit. I told them I wasn’t going to let that fire in me get put out, I didn’t know how but I just wasn’t going to let that happen. I pursued God with all I had. I continued reading my Bible and He opened it up to me and revealed new things to me. He began speaking to my heart and teaching me and encouraging me. It was awesome.
I still remember so clearly the first time I audibly heard God’s voice. It was the first morning of my Discipleship Training School and I was sitting in a chair and I told God, “If you’re real, you have to show me.” He took me to Romans 6 and showed me how I’m dead to sin and alive in Him. I came out of my time with the Lord so excited and felt so alive. I was so amazed that God was speaking to me!
Every day, this is what it has been. God loving on me and me receiving His love. Yeah, I have my ups and downs, but God is so good and has redeemed my life. I desire to see people see God’s goodness and understand that He can redeem their lives. No matter where you think you are and everything you don’t understand, God is bigger than that. He can destroy that box and set you free from sin. He can set you free from all the guilt, shame and insecurities. He loves us so much and wants relationship with us.
So, that’s my story of how Jesus touched me, restored my life and set me free from the bondage I was in.