Every Sunday I was just checking the box.
I grew up going to church and every Sunday my family went. I got involved with the Sunday school youth group and my parents taught classes at church. I could answer all the church questions and could tell you about every Bible story, giving all the typical answers, but I didn’t actually have any understanding of it. It was all just head knowledge.
In high school, I was very successful. I graduated valedictorian and played football, and I had a great loving family; everything was going well for me. I got accepted to the Naval Academy and planned on going there.
On the outside, I looked perfect. But on the inside, I lived in a darkness I could not escape.
During my freshman and sophomore years at the Academy, I still maintained that outward appearance. But I also struggled trying to find what I could fill that darkness with.
I tried filling it with what I thought would work: I tried the drinking crowd, I tried sex — anything that could please me.
Nothing did. The darkness was growing and I was sinking deeper and deeper.
In 2008, between my sophomore and junior year, I was in San Diego doing summer training. One day I was by myself on the beach and two guys from Cru came up to me. I knew when they approached me that they had been talking with people about the gospel since I had been watching them on the beach. So when they asked if we could talk I said, “Whatever.” I figured that with my background, I would have all the answers to their questions.
But I was surprised at what I heard.
As they shared the gospel with me, for the first time it made sense. God had softened my heart and all the “answers” I thought I already knew clicked. It was like all that head knowledge suddenly turned into heart knowledge.
I realized the darkness I had been feeling in my heart was a hole, and I was looking for Christ to step in and be my Savior. Jesus was what I needed to replace the darkness.
I prayed, asking Jesus to come into my life and be my Savior right there on the beach.
My transformation was not immediate, though. While I was in California for the rest of the summer, I found myself still caught in the trap of sex, drinking and finding things to fill that darkness. I was still not quite willing to let go.
When I returned for my junior year, I knew I had to find somebody to help me in my faith; I wanted to get plugged in with Cru at the Academy. Two of my best friends were already involved with Cru and they came alongside me and helped me grow. I continued to stay involved with Cru and the following summer, I went with them on a mission trip to Venezuela. Once I graduated from the Academy I joined the Marine Corps.
Christ is always revealing new parts of me. I’ve learned that the Christian life isn’t perfect; God continues to reveal areas in my life where I need to grow. But in the summer of 2008, He completely turned my life around— a total 180. I know that my only real satisfaction and hope comes from God; everything I do is to glorify and worship Him.
What’s your story? Did you become a Christian through Cru or any ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ? If so, tell us more at firstname.lastname@example.org.