I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior when I was nine years old, if I remember correctly. I base this timing off the bible that I was given soon afterward, which was dated in December of 1996.
Although I’m fuzzy on some details, because I was just a kid and did not pay attention to such things, I do remember the day I “got saved” very clearly. I also remember the day that I was baptized.
Both experiences meant a lot to me at the time.
I tried to read my bible, but I never made it further than the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I tried to read Revelation, but I could not understand it at all. I watched Christian movies that my grandmother owned, and my family attended church on and off.
I remember praying a lot and I remember having a lot of questions. I remember pretending to preach in the woods behind my house, but I don’t know what I preached about. I remember talking to two boys on my elementary school bus about Jesus for a little while. I remember caring a lot about being a Christian and wanting to live without sin, and trying to over and over, just to fail.
Even though I knew that we were hopelessly sinful, I wanted to live right. I wanted to be like the Jesus I read about and saw in those old movies. However, I lived in a world of sin—and a world that glorified it and encouraged sin while attempting to stamp out any good thing I had within myself.
As I look back, I’m in awe of this. There was one person in particular who sabotaged me left and right. I had one person in my life who encouraged drinking at a young age—beginning at age 14 or so. I had one person in my life who advised me to be a “normal” teenager—to date, have as much sex as I could (thankfully boys did not find me attractive, so that did not happen), and to pursue as much of this world as I could before I had kids who would ruin my life by taking all the fun away.
The things this person said and implanted into my heart and mind were incredibly destructive of any good thing. There was so much. So much false accusations about my character, which I later learned was projection of their own character. So much envy and attempts to tear me down, and satisfaction expressed when I was in pain. So much sewing of conflict between people. Then when I did well, I was punished for it with accusations of being weird, snobby, or thinking I am better than everyone.
Yet, at the same time, I was encouraged to do well in school and to pursue a college education. I focused hard on that because I wanted to make a better life for myself. However, when the time came to apply for college, all that hard work was sabotaged too.
I still struggle to forgive this person because the general character and attitude of that person towards me has not changed or been admitted to. Yet, I know that God is in control of all things. Some who read this might know who I write about. I had to walk away so that I can heal from this person and move on. It’s best for us both, in more ways than one. I pray they heal too, and I know Jesus can work wonders in all of us. We are all flawed and in mostly similar fashion.
By the time I was in my late teens, all that child-like wonder, questioning, and dedication wore off, and I wondered away from Jesus to a large degree.
I never read my bible. I did pray about life circumstances that went horribly awry, but I did not listen to the answer. I was very mentally and emotionally unwell, and I turned to drugs and alcohol as a remedy.
I turned back to Jesus in 2014—almost 20 years after I was saved and baptized. I received the Holy Spirit in 2016, which was closer to that 20 year mark.
I waisted so much of that time. I can look back with some measure of graciousness with my falling away, because I don’t see how it could have been otherwise. However, I can’t help but feel sorry. I could have done so much with that time. Yet, I also know that I would not be who I am and I would not enjoy my greatest blessings in this life had I done anything differently. God is in control.
Now, I try to serve Jesus, but I’m still not as productive and profitable as I’d like to be. There are people in my life who I have not turned to Jesus, and I feel like I should have by now if I were a better example. I know Jesus works in His time and in His way, but I can become hard on myself for the changes that have not yet come.
I know there is always room to grow in any case, and I think about a scripture that tells us that we should always consider ourselves to be unprofitable servants, because we have merely done that which was our duty to do.
I get that. When I think about everything that Jesus has done for me, I know that no amount of service I do is enough to be profitable in comparison. I cannot earn what He has given me—and in fact, any service I do is something He gave. I can do nothing on my own, and I have nothing to offer.
Yet, I want to do what I can. I call Jesus my Lord, and that means something. I said that I would not settle for any sin in my life, and I believe that the gospel promises freedom from sin. This faith and the declarations I have made mean something.
I could be more serious. I’m sure that I could. I could love Jesus better. I could love others better. I could be more focused on the Kingdom of Heaven and less focused on this world—though that is hard when you have a lot of responsibilities in this life.
In any case, I sympathize with the many things in this life that can cause us to be “wicked and slothful servants” and I believe that Jesus does too. I also know that He will cause us to become more faithful if we belong to Him. Like the shepherd that leaves the 99 sheep to go after the 1 that went astray, He will go after us and bring us back.
If you feel like you have been a “wicked and slothful servant” know that you are not alone. Many of us go through this, especially if we were raised in the faith and accepted Jesus into our lives as a child or young adolescent. Also know that all things you went through were purposed by God, and He will use all things for your good and for His service.
I also wonder about the “falling away.” I do believe that Western Christianity has fallen away to a degree, but I also look at the circumstances–and like my life–I don’t think it could have gone any other way. Jesus knows and God is in control. Just as my own “falling away” was used for good, I believe the “falling away” of Western Christianity will be too.
It’s not too late to turn back to Him—and if you do, that is because He called you in the first place, so trust in that. Trust in Him. He is merciful and He likes to use broken people. In-fact, He most often does. I know because He uses me—and I was very broken. I still am. I still need the Physician.