I have always been in church, and I could talk about God with anyone, I “knew” how to pray, I sang in the choir, and my dad is on staff at our church, but I was not a Christian. I was a Christian by association, but I really didn’t want to be one at all. So, I tried everything within my power to desensitize myself. I rebelled secretly against my parents and many other authorities. I was doing all kinds of ungodly things. I called myself Christian, but I was not a Christian. People thought that I was a “great kid” but I was just being a hypocrite. I thought I had the world fooled, and I probably did…but I didn’t once fool God.
My dad told me about the Journey and asked if I wanted to go. I agreed to go because I knew that if I didn’t, he would wonder why I didn’t want to get to know God better. I don’t know how I avoided God for so long, but I guess I just acted like He wasn’t really there. When the plane took off and we were airborne, I thought, “What would happen to me if this plane ran into the ground right now?” I was genuinely concerned about my life at that point.
When I got to the Headquarters, I started thinking, “Whoa, this is actually real, God is really here.” I was very, very unsure about my salvation, and this was one of the few times that I had really taken some time to think about it. On Monday we got to the Northwoods, and God immediately started to burden my heart. I was pretty miserable the whole day until Monday night, when I became so miserable of my depraved state that I called my parents and told them that I was undoubtedly unsaved and that I needed to be saved. I cried to the Lord Monday night, May 16, 2011 and He saved me…a new creature in Christ. I am forever changed and destined to be with my Savior Jesus Christ.
The Lord started convicting me about past offenses to others and about my rebellion against my parents, and I started confessing. But on Tuesday (the next day), I still was holding on to one thing that I just wouldn’t confess to my parents. I was believing Satan’s lie that I didn’t have to tell anyone about it because “what harm would it do?” In reality, it was greatly affecting the Holy Spirit, and I knew it so I told my parents that afternoon. After I got it out of my hands and into the hands of Christ, I was overflowing with joy in my heart. That night at around seven, I think, we (my team) started praying in our meeting room, and soon it was my turn to pray. Before I started praying I was already crying, but it was tears of joy that were flowing. I knew that my name was written in the Book of Life, and that the One who made me, made the earth, made gravity, made the air that I breath, and made my parents. He gave me the kind of parents that I needed. He cared enough about me out of billions of people and showed me His Love, and comforted me, and died for me. He bought me after I sold myself to the devil and the world, gave me His peace, showed me His power, protected me, fed me, clothed me, and gave me a Book that I can read that tells me more about Himself and who He is. He gave me the liberty to tell others about Him so that they can experience Him also. I knew that this wasn’t even the beginning too. So, after much crying and praising Him, I sat back up and looked at the clock, and if I remember right, it was ten o clock. I had prayed the longest I had ever even attempted to pray, and for the first time, I didn’t even care about how long it took.
The Lord showed me so much that week even after those two days. I was being fed by His Words all week and I couldn’t get enough. He showed me that I don’t have to rely on myself in my struggles, because He has already won the race, all I have to do is claim the victory through Him. “Lean not unto thine own understanding, in all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths”, “Nay, in all things we are made more than conquerors through Him that loved us…”, “the name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous runneth to it, and are safe” He is my strong tower, I can call on Him and He will answer, I can run to Him and be safe, I don’t have to rely on myself because He said that He would direct me, I am more than a conqueror, but only through Him that has already conquered. “Abide in Me, and I in you, as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the vine, and ye are the branches, He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing.” I am living proof of that principle.
When I got home, I talked to one of my best friends and asked him to forgive me for being a hypocrite and not living the way Christ did. I told him what had happened to me, and he was so amazed at how much I had changed that he wanted to get saved!! I got to lead him to Christ and he is a new creature. After about a week, my other friend came to Christ! And just this week, two of my other friends got saved too! God is so good. He has shown me in my life that when I am completely sold out to him and I don’t care about what other people think, He can really use me. In truth and honesty before Him and others, there is power because the Holy Spirit can move about freely.
Other things are being revealed as I abide in Him and meditate on His gift to me, the Word. I am learning things from the wisdom and failures of others and myself, but the best way to learn is to read God’s living Word, the Bible. If I listen to what God has to say and obey, I don’t have to learn the hard way. The way of a believer is intense and hard, but made easy through obedience. It is better to obey than to sacrifice, because if I am obeying, then I will probably be sacrificing too. If there was one thing I could say to anyone for the rest of my life it would be to know God, love Him and seek Him, and see what happens.
- Josh Hoyle