Have you ever thought that your sin was too great for God to use you? I have many times. I made many foolish choices and committed many sinful acts during and right after my college years. For this reason, I found it hard to believe that God could or would use my life for anything significant. For those of you who question whether or not God can use you. I want to encourage you by sharing a little of my story with you.
Heading off to college I had very little interest in or knowledge of God. Though I had gone to church many years as a youth, God was not real or relevant to my life. Intellectually, I believed He existed. Yet I lived as if He did not. I was eager to find meaning and purpose in life through higher education and the extracurricular activities. It was time for me to stretch out my wings, learn to fly on my own and get a taste of the ‘good life’.
I dove right in and by the middle of my 2nd year things were going according to plan. I was doing well academically. I was good friends with some guys on the football team. I was growing in popularity and was invited to many of the ‘best’ parties. On top of this, I had a girlfriend for the first time in my life. We were having sex and I thought I was in love. I thought life was good and would only get better. Little did I know that this thought would fade as quickly as it came.
My girlfriend gave me some news that I was not expecting and did not want to hear. She was pregnant. This was not part of the plan. I was not ready to be a dad, get married or get a full-time job to support a family. I had dreams of finishing college, getting a good high paying job and later on maybe having a family. So we decided, with my lead, that having an abortion would be the best option for us, our relationship and our future. The abortion procedure left her traumatized and me with feelings of guilt for hurting her and sacrificing our child for my future.
In a few months our relationship dissolved. This chain of events left me devastated. To medicate my pain, I began to drink more alcohol and have sex with other women. Somehow in the midst of this I was able to graduate from college with honors. I did not get a high paying job and settled for a job at the college that I attended. The pay wasn’t great but it did afford me the opportunity to go to graduate school.
While working at this job, I engaged in a sexual relationship with a co-worker. After a short time she became pregnant. She did not want to raise a child alone. I did not want to go the abortion route again. So I thought the only way to make things work is to marry her and care for the child. I did not love her, but looking back in hindsight, I was trying to atone for my past mistake. We both found ourselves in a marriage that we really did not want to be in. I was filled with anger, not committed to the marriage and tried to medicate my pain through alcohol, partying, and adulterous affairs. I entered into graduate school with the hope that another degree would lead to financial success and make things better.
During this time, I was invited to a large Christian Men’s event. I heard the message about a God who loved me so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die for all the wrong things that I had ever and will ever do. I understood that God was offering me forgiveness and a forever relationship with Him if I would only turn from my sin and trust His Son Jesus. That sort of sounded like good news to me. I wanted to be forgiven but I wasn’t completely ready to change how I was living. I could see that how I was living was causing my heart to be filled with hurt, shame and guilt. Yet I still enjoyed the things that I was doing. So I stood there feeling torn and failed to respond to this invitation to know God. I left so close to being saved from God’s judgment yet totally lost and separated from the One I so desperately needed.
Over the next two years, the drinking, partying and affairs increased. As I finished graduate school , my priority became positioning myself for the best career opportunity. This left very little time for my wife and son. My wife and I eventually separated and divorced when I was 27. While going through a divorce, God lead me to turn from my sin to faith in His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ began to transform my attitudes, my desires and my actions. My whole life began to change as God came to live in me.
I know that I was solely saved by God’s grace. I know that there was no possible way that left to my own merit I could have ever qualified for a relationship with a Holy and Righteous God. In some way, shape or form I had broken every one of the 10 commandments. I was a slave to sexual sin and committed some heinous sins against God such as abortion and adultery which led to my divorce. Oh how I love the old hymn ‘Nothing but the Blood of Jesus’. I know that is the only thing that washed my sins away and I am glad about it.
In the first year of my relationship with God, I sensed that He was calling me into full-time ministry. I found that very difficult to comprehend. Practically speaking, I had gone to college and graduate school to work in government not ministry. I was the first person in my family to ever graduate with a four year degree. Surely God would not want me to just walk away from this tremendous opportunity that my education would afford me in this world. For many years I looked at my education as the key to unlock the doors of success, meaning and purpose. Education was one of the idols that I had given my heart to. At this time the living God was calling me to abandon my dreams, my hard work and my god to follow Him.
In addition to the practical, I thought that my sins were ‘too horrible’ for God to use my life for His Kingdom purposes. In my thinking a person was saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ but ministry was reserved for those whose sins were not all that bad. From my
perspective, salvation was indeed solely by grace and ministry by grace and merit. As I read through the Bible nearly twice in that year, I was slowly beginning to see that the people that God chose to use were far from
perfect. Abraham was a liar, Jacob was a deceiver, Moses was a murderer, David was an adulterer and Paul persecuted the Church.
Though I felt totally unworthy to serve God in ministry, by the end of that year I had left a budding career in city government to follow God’s call. When I look back over the past 17 years of following Christ (15 years in full-time ministry), I am blown away by God’s faithfulness and grace. Serving God in full-time ministry is a joy I thought I would never get to have. I also never would have imagined that God would bless me with a wonderful wife and four children (I have 6 children including my unborn daughter and my son from my previous marriage). All I can say is that God’s grace and plan are simply amazing. So when that thought comes to your mind, ‘Can God use my life?’. Yes, He can! For our God is not a respecter of persons.