Isaac's Story

What was your life like before Christ, or – if already a believer – before a life event that would challenge your Christian faith? (250-word limit)

I was homeschooled growing up, so most of my childhood memories revolve around milking goats, sewing clothes, writing class essays with a feather pen, and reading at night by candlelight. 

Just kidding!  Our family wasn't that traditional.  I did, however, grow up more sheltered than other kids my age.  Until I was 10 years old, our family lived in the country, and when I wasn't sitting at our kitchen table doing homework, I was outdoors, building things and hunting critters like lizards, toads, and insects.

What’s also true of my homeschooling experience is that – at least through grade school – I didn't have any true friends.  Our family would go to educators gatherings once a week, where I would hang out with other homeschoolers.  Beyond those get-togethers, however, my family lived quite a sheltered life.  We didn't watch TV, and – as far as movies went – anything rated “PG” or worse had no place in our home.  Looking back, I realize that these standards weren’t wrong ones for my family to live by; we were simply more conservative in some ways than other households.  In short, we lived a simple and secure life, shielded from our culture and tucked away from the influence of society.  We lived a “safe” life. 

Little did we know that all this was about to change, as our family would soon face an obstacle that would drastically alter our lives.

What personal conflict (difficult news, major change, or other low point) led to your turning to Christ as your Savior, or turning to Him in a deeper way? (250-word limit)

In early 2002, following the bursting of the infamous “dot-com bubble,” the IT company at which my dad was then working went bankrupt, and my dad lost his job.  Our own family now having gone bankrupt, too, we ended up losing our home and moving from the country to Pueblo – where our family had its roots.  With my dad unable to find work in almost a year and with his unemployment benefits dwindling, we finally made that desperate call to a social worker – the call my parents were so hoping they’d never have to make.  There was no way around it:  we’d soon be living in a homeless shelter for three months. 

At that time, my siblings and I were enrolled in a regional kids program called “Boys & Girls Club,” where I experienced culture shock from having lived such a sheltered life.  I soon found that my poor social skills kept me from connecting with others, and being unable to “fit in” left me with low self-esteem, loneliness, and depression.  I felt like I was in a deep hole – alone in the dark – while everyone else was happy and “had it all together.”  I felt lost.

In the Summer of 2003, however, Jesus would come to my rescue.  Almost as if by “chance,” I attended a Royal Rangers camping trip, during which God showed me that I had worth in His eyes, that I had purpose, and that I needed Him desperately.  So, at age 11, already broken and undone, I surrendered my life to Jesus, and He received me in a way no one else would.

How was your life different in the season following this deepened faith? (spiritual breakthroughs? changing priorities?) (250-word limit)

Quite simply, I've never been the same since giving my life to God.  There's never been a moment in my life where I regretted choosing to follow Christ.  He not only saved me from my sins, after all, but He helped me understand how much He loves me – how I have such worth in His eyes that no matter how inadequate I might feel, I could never disappoint Him. 

Appropriately enough, when I started seeing my worth in God's eyes, He began to show me how much worth others had as well.  Put another way, when I became confident that God absolutely loved me, I also began to realize just how much He loved everyone else.  This, in a nutshell, was my great awakening:  when God puts in you a burden for others, He also helps you overcome those barriers that keep you from reaching out to them.  Whether you’re contending with feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness, depression, or even poor communication skills, all those obstacles become irrelevant as you begin to love others as Christ loves you.

That's my experience.  As I started regarding others with Christ-like love, I realized that a bridge, of sorts, was being built, with me reaching across my own hurts and brokenness on my way to reaching out to others.  For the Lord to equip me for this work, despite by own inadequacies, was a momentous breakthrough – something that could only be accounted for by my surrendering to Christ.

What takeaways from this transformation inform my Christian walk today? (250-word limit)

I can’t pretend to know where you are in your own Christian walk.  Maybe you've also experienced loneliness or depression.  Perhaps you feel like you're always on the outside looking in.  You may have endured a tragic accident, suffered through the death of a loved one, or found yourself fighting a long illness. It’s possible you’ve struggled in areas of finance, family, or simply living out your faith.

No matter the nature of your own challenges, I want to assure you that Jesus understands what you're going through, and He loves and cares for you beyond all words.  I reflect often on one of David’s well-known expressions of praise to His Lord: “Great is your love, reaching to the heavens” (Psalm 57:10, NIV).  You may be feeling like the obstacle you’re facing right now is keeping you from experiencing the fullness of God’s grace, but I want to remind you that “
neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39, NIV). 

I know full well that our Heavenly Father wants to come alongside you in this season of your life’s journey.  He walks with me, and He wants to walk with you!