By Nick Judd
This is the second part of a two part story. If you haven’t read that first one, you can find it here.
If you remember, I was telling the story of how I got to where I am today. Someone looking at my life from the outside might assume that I’ve always had it together, that I grew up in the faith and that I don’t know much about addiction or the destruction it brings. The truth is, however, that given my past, I should be anywhere but here. I have shared the series of events that led me to the crisis point in my story. In all good stories, tension rises until it gets to the crisis where that tension is maxed out. In that moment, the story has to go one of two ways, it either climaxes with a breakthrough for the character and things turn around or it climaxes with a devastation for the character and the worst case scenario becomes the rest of the story. You may know that that particular type of story is known as a “tragedy.” We recognize these patterns in our own lives because God is the best story teller. And, the story that He is telling through the Gospel is one of hope, not a tragedy.
In that season when the Holy Spirit had been drawing me to Christ, He started by bringing me to an awareness of my need, of my inability to fix myself. He had to teach me hopelessness and chaos before I could see hope and peace. After living in that space of brokenness for months, He sent two young men to work at the same restaurant that I worked at. Immediately, I noticed that there was something different about them. They seemed to have whatever it was that I was so desperately searching for. They had contentment, joy, and peace that seemed to go far beyond their circumstances. It didn’t take long to find out why.
We became friends and they began to tell me about Christ. At this point, I still knew next to nothing about the Christian faith. In fact, if you would have asked me if I wanted to be saved, I probably would have said, “saved from what?” However, even with no knowledge of Christianity I still somehow “knew” that Jesus wasn’t the answer I was looking for. That was just too easy and I’d seen too many people claiming Jesus and living lives that I wanted nothing to do with. But these guys were different and maybe that’s why I listened. They gave me a Bible and challenged me to read the Gospel of John. I still remember how strange it was to read the Bible for the first time. I didn’t understand a word of it and I certainly did not want to believe it but I couldn’t get past the fact there was something different about it. It was other-worldly. I didn’t like the way that made me feel but I couldn’t put it down nonetheless.
As time went on those two young men invited me to a large young adult gathering and I obliged. I still saw myself as very much above this whole Jesus thing, but I valued their friendship. I didn’t go back a second time for quite a while. In the meantime my heart seemed to be at war with me. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get past this nagging draw towards the Bible and the life these guys had. When I finally did go back I maintained this posture all the way to the closing song and then God wrecked me. I remember sitting in that chair with my head in my hands weeping. For the first time in my life I wasn’t just broken over my circumstances; I was broken over me. I wasn't just sorry for things that I had done; I was sorry for what I was. In that moment, the God of all creation shined a light on my dark heart and showed me what had been going on these past few months. I was not resisting Christianity, I was not resisting faith, I was resisting Jesus, the living Son of God. Right then and there, still with next to know understanding of much of anything, I became a Christian. It wasn’t by signing up for a religion, it wasn’t by making some moral commitment. It was by accepting Christ through a simple, broken, humble prayer. Twenty years later I still remember the exact words. “God if your Son is real, I want to know Him.”
You know what God said? He said yes.
I could fill books with the ups and downs of my Christian life after that. But one thing that has remained constant through it all, the one thing that brought me to where I am today is the unfailing, unchanging grace that God gave me in that moment. The two best things about this story are 1) It’s really not my story; it's His and 2) He’s written a story for each and every one of us. Where are you in the story He’s written for you? Do you know His Son yet? There are very few things that I am absolutely certain of in this world, but one of them is this - If you want Jesus, you can have Him. If you ask for Him, God will say yes.
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” – Romans 10:13
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. – John 6:37