My military career was off to a great start. I was on the college rowing team, had the position of Recruit Section Commander, and was performing well academically. I was popular with many great friends. I had everything going for me and life couldn’t be much better.
Yet I still felt empty inside. It was as if I filled myself with so much food, yet I was still hungry. I had this overwhelming sense that my life was incomplete. I just can’t explain the emptiness I felt. Sometimes I wouldn’t be aware of the feeling, because I was out having fun. But once I was alone and it was quiet, I knew there was something missing.
A friend invited me to attend church again. I used to find it boring and irrelevant so I stopped going ever since I left home. The church we went to was different
, however. It was not only the drums and guitars instead of the usual organ music that made it different; rather, it was the people that were different. They were so joyful, and they really seemed to care about me despite the fact that they hardly knew who I was.
This got me thinking about God, but I wasn’t about to go and start believing yet. I had a lot of questions I needed to be answered. How do I really know that Jesus is God? Is the Bible fact or fiction? What about other religions? I needed answers, and I set out to find them.
I started talking to people and reading several books. I found that there was an overwhelming amount of historical and scientific evidence for the Bible. I was particularly interested in the arguments that claimed that Jesus really is the Son of God. I also read about many other religions. I came to the conclusion that they were all essentially the same—they all prescribed a set of rules or behavior one must follow in order to reach heaven, enlightenment, or some other state of higher existence. They would still leave me feeling empty.
The teachings of Jesus Christ stood in stark contrast to all the other religious teachings. Jesus claimed that no one is good enough to make it to heaven, for we have all sinned and fall short of God’s standards. I knew I certainly wasn’t perfect. I wasn’t even sure if there was any hope for me. But Jesus loves me so much that he came to earth as a man to suffer and die in my place. He took my sin upon himself, not only my sins, but the sins of all humankind. I didn’t need to do anything to get to heaven, I just needed to believe in him.
I was still skeptical. I truly wanted to believe in Jesus, but there were still doubts in my head. I researched other religions and Christianity and found that Jesus was and is the truth. But this wasn’t enough for me. I was still a doubter and I needed more proof. One night I told God, “If you’re really out there, then you’re going to need to prove it to me somehow!”
Suddenly, I heard a still, small voice. It wasn’t an audible voice, but it spoke to my heard and mind: “I’m here.” God was challenging me. He was telling me, you did all this research and you started going to church, why don’t you try telling a friend about me? I was bewildered when I heard God telling me this and giving me this strong sense that I should tell someone about him. Am I going crazy? I thought. How do I know I’m not imagining things? I also heard a particular name—the name of my friend who didn’t know about God. It was as if I was supposed to talk to this friend about Jesus.
All of a sudden, somebody knocks on my door. It is my friend, the very friend whose name came to mind. This is so weird, I thought.
“So what’s up with you Jay? I hear you’ve been going to church and getting into all this religious stuff, what’s going on?” he asked.
At that moment, I felt God saying, “You wanted proof, Jay, here it is.”
I told my friend about my reasons for getting into church and Christianity. He didn’t come to believe as I did, but that’s OK because him coming in at that very moment was God’s way of revealing himself to me. The experience knocked my socks off! It was too out of the ordinary to be a coincidence. Indeed, this was God’s proof.
Suffice to say, God certainly proved himself to me beyond the shadow of a doubt. I felt his presence—and it was unlike anything I have ever experienced before. He spoke to me and gave me a hope and joy that is beyond explanation.
He continues to take care of me. I was deployed to Bosnia in 1994 and Afghanistan in 2003. While I was away from home, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and protection from God, despite coming under fire and various attacks. I’m the type of guy that normally gets the typical cold or flu twice a year. If there is a flu bug going around, I will definitely get it. In Afghanistan, a lot of people would get sick from the stress and long hours, but I was never sick at all while I was there. God continued to remind me of his presence and this gave me confidence to get through each day.
I have decided to believe and follow Jesus Christ. I am no longer empty—for he is the ultimate fulfillment in life.
If you have sought and obtained many things yet still feel like something is still missing, you are not alone. Christ is the only fulfillment that lasts. You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as he is with the attitude of your heart. Here’s a suggested prayer:
Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.