It's quite typical in Evangelical circles to share one's "testimony" of how one came to have a relationship with God. Everyone has a testimony, and no two are the same. That's the beauty of testimonies: God works uniquely in the lives of each person. He is not a God who is into generalizations; He is a God who loves each of us on an individual level.
I'm not sure how God works through these testimonies, or how frequently. But I know that if He can use a donkey He can use my relatively boring story too. So, I thought I'd share it here.
As anyone who's read my profile knows, my father is a pastor. He and my mother were obviously the strongest influences on me during my early childhood, and so I "asked Jesus into my heart" at a very young age. And I meant it. I believe that from that moment, I was truly a child of God.
However. I soon enough hit teen-dom, and through exposure to high school students, and opposing viewpoints, started running into questions for which I didn't have answers. The media and academic circles to which I was exposed were largely agnostic about, or hostile to, my faith. Nevertheless, thanks to the quality preaching of dear old Dad, I was able to cling to my faith despite not having enough questions answered to satisfy my more skeptical friends.
Then came college. Whoo, boy. Send a kid away from home to a university very hostile to all things conservative (except in isolated pockets) and you're asking for a heap o'trouble. Which is what I got. It was easy to sleep in Sundays and skip church. It was easy to get tied up with homework, and neglect God's word. It was easy to start hanging around with friends who had interests other than book learnin'. It was easy to forget God.
Couple this with an openly anti-Christian philosophy permeating the classes (or, the overall environment) and I "backslid" - hard. Not that I joined a cult, murdered anyone, or opened a brothel. No, my rebellion was more subtle. I stopped seeking Him, I stopped defending Him (not that He needs my help!), and I stopped following Him. Oh, if asked I'd confess I believed He was there, and that the Bible was true. And I didn't seek to actively disobey God; it just "happened."
I was still a good guy, from outside appearances. But I wasn't where I was supposed to be. God got my attention, though, and brought me back. Well, part of the way, since I won't be perfected this side of Heaven. A friend of mine died in an accident during finals week one year. Grades suffered. Relationships soured. My job situation (and associated economic situation) went by the wayside. I was running out of reasons to be positive. Not a good thing for an honor student, multiple-letter-winner-athlete in high school who'd entered college with the world as his oyster. None of it meant anything, really, but it was especially meaningless in keeping me from reaping the fruits of my subtle rebellion against God.
And here my story for today stops. I'll finish tomorrow, but for now I have to go teach Awana. Joy of joys I am now back on God's side, and more about that tomorrow. Sharing the joy of the Lord is a wonderful gift, and sharing it with children is especially sweet. Hopefully they can avoid some of the problems I caused for myself.