• If you are just joining us, you should probably read the introduction - Part 4 to understand why and what is happening!
Picking up from where we left off last time, I had my first real encounter with Jesus and accepted him into my heart. But, I wasn't ready to commit yet. I put on the bathing suit, climbed the ladder, but wasn't ready to jump off the hi-dive into the deep end of the pool.
For the next couple of months I was on fire. I really was. A new sensation was over taking me, I felt a change inside that I couldn't explain at the time, but I didn't care! I was becoming a believer. But, being a believer is the first little step. True faith isn't just BELIEVING in Jesus, it is relying completely and utterly on Him alone for EVERYTHING and making a commitment to follow. I can believe that food will satisfy my hunger all day long, but until I sink my teeth into the sandwich, chew and swallow, I will continue to be hungry and unsatisfied. Same with Christianity and Jesus; I can believe that there is a God and there is Jesus, but without following and truly seeking His will I'll continue living life MY way and not experiencing true saving grace.
So, I continued to stumble. It was slow at first after spring break, but soon enough I found myself hanging out at parties with friends, drinking, and chasing after girls. Praise God, I didn't and haven't had sex again, but motives were still selfish through the end of my freshman year and beginning semester of sophomore year in college.
A year later, almost to the day of when I accepted Jesus into my heart the first time, He came roaring into my life again. He never left, but he waited patiently for another year while I was like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind (James 1:6) selfishly trying to figure out MY way instead of submitting to His.
Spring Break of sophomore year I took a road trip with my good buddy out to Huntington Beach, California. We stayed a night in Las Vegas on the way out of Colorado before hitting the west coast. It was here when I would start to feel the weight of my actions for the past year. We had a lot to drink that night. -I might take a second out to say that I've never been a binge drinker. I drank and/or partied maybe 2 or 3 times a month, so I don't want you to get the wrong impression. However, I do hope I make the point that drinking to get drunk is sinning, and that is what I was doing.- We walked around the strip all night until 4 in the morning completely drunk. It was all good fun; that is what I chalked it up to be. In my mind, I wasn't doing anything really THAT bad...
I think we can get sucked into rating sin. Stuff like speeding is a small sin, being drunk is a smaller sin, sex before marriage is a medium sin, and then murder and the obvious ones are huge sins. As long as we stay in the 1s and 2s of sin, we will be alright. But, let me propose something, or really let me relay what Jesus says about sin: the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).
There isn't a distinction of sin in this verse. He doesn't say the wages of sin on the scale factor 5 and above is death, and 1- 4 is a slap on the wrist. If I sin, what I deserve as my wage is separation from God, the only one capable of saving. So, my "good fun" in Vegas, as harmless as it was by worldly standards, was really me walking directly opposite of true lasting life.
I couldn't put words to the weight I felt that night, and the few nights afterward in Huntington Beach, but I know now.
We went to bed that morning (or late that night), and woke up 6 hours later to finish our drive out to the beach. The next couple days, God started to show up more and more. I didn't know why, but I was feeling responsible. Responsible for my actions the past year, responsible for allowing myself to sin so frequently; responsible for saying "yes" to God, and then turning around and acting like I never said anything.
The beach has a weird way of speaking. It beckons you to be free, to enjoy what is before you to the full extent; to soak in everything and not miss a minute. God was doing the same thing to me.