I was raised in a Christian home, and it wasn't until I was 13 that I really started to love Jesus personally and intimately and follow Him in everything. After that, I started to really listen to Christian radio, read the Bible and biblical materials, and I would go to youth group, school Bible clubs, etc. It was good to surround myself with those godly influences as much as possible as I grew my baby faith.
However, the older I got, especially since graduating high school, I found myself pondering the exact same thing you may be: "Is it bad that I don't have a dramatic faith story?" I would hear these amazing testimonies where people's lives were radically changed and how Jesus totally transformed them from the inside out. It was honestly a little disheartening for me at the time, because I didn't have this amazing 180-degree change and dramatic story. But here's what I've been learning that might help you too.
Our life stories should not be looked at in a competitive light. Instead, recognize that each story is special and valuable. Be grateful that you didn't need to suffer through so much painful sin that God had to radically transform you in that fashion. I'm not talking about having the attitude that "their sin was worse than mine," because all sin is the same in God's eyes. Yet all sins bring certain consequences.
For example, if a prostitute or drug addict becomes a Christian (which, praise God if she does), she would still have to live with a lot of the physical, emotional, and mental consequences that came with that—things that we might not have to live with if we didn't choose that road. Our testimony of "once we were in darkness, and now we're forgiven and forever set free" is a powerful enough testimony in and of itself. Every story has value and worth.
I totally get the whole idea that "Jesus has changed them so much, and I haven't really changed because I've always been a pretty good person." I thought along those lines too, but the fact is we're all still sinners. We're never as "good" as we think we are because we all struggle with sin of some sort. We all still have areas of our life that still need to be transformed by Jesus.
When read the Bible and ask God to show us these areas, we'll start to see that. Then we can ask the Holy Spirit to help us change those areas to become more like Christ. Ask Him, "What areas am I holding back from you? Where am I not representing you well to the people around me? What has to change for me to do everything you've created me for and to be?" Be still, and listen to His responses.
We often long for experiences, popularity, the newest gadget, or the cutest boyfriend/girlfriend, but these things longings will leave us complacent and may even cause backsliding in our faith. Just because maybe we don't cuss or don't steal or don't hate anyone, there are more subtle sins that can creep up on even one who has been a Christian for a longer time.
What I've found is that those who were raised in the church get "used to" being a Christian, that we forget what Jesus and the whole Christian life is actually about. We continue to read our Bibles, go to church, sit down and talk to God in prayer, but they are just motions without passion. When this happen to me, I get alone with God and just sit in His presence so that He can reveal His will to me. Once I allow Him to do that, I get refocused on putting Him first not just in action but in my heart. That is when my heart becomes ready to truly allow Him in and change me. And He will change you too! He will change our desires and our wills, and He will set us on the course He has for us, but we must put Him first, and we must get that godly passion rekindled (Psalm 37:4-5; Matthew 6:33).
Allow God to change you from the inside out. Knowing and following His will for you starts with you putting Him first and allowing Him time to work with you and through you. Be still and listen to God reveal Himself to you. Follow where He leads you from there.
If you were raised in the church or you've been a Christian for as long as you can remember, you must not live a faith where you just go through the motions, doing Bible study and prayer merely out of habit or because you "should." Rather, seek God because of a genuine desire to know Him and fall more in love with Him. Reflect on who He is and what Jesus has done daily so that you never take that for granted or get comfortable where you are. There's always work to be done in our hearts and for His Kingdom—no matter what our past looks like.
No matter what your story may be, you can get to know Him in new ways all over again. We can never know God completely, so there's always new things He wants to reveal to us that will blow our minds and cause us to worship Him.
God tells us in Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” It's a promise. He'll breathe life back into us and change us when we seek Him with all our hearts today—regardless of the path we took to get here.
Stephanie is a 21-year old with a passion to see believers grow and become passionate in their relationship with the Lord. She is a lover of sweat tea, sunshine, and the freedom that comes from Christ. In her free time, she can be found singing, playing guitar, writing or jamming out to Hawk Nelson, Phil Wickham, and worship music. Her dreams are to become a worship leader and a published author, while living a life full of fun and joy that comes from the Lord.