I’m all in on Jesus. Here’s why.
I’m all in on Jesus. Here’s why.
I was raised in small-town Ohio, a solid working-class town. It was a great place to grow up, a lot like my current hometown of Frederick, only quite a bit smaller. There was a strong work ethic among the town’s residents, and a deep sense of community. A general respect for people was also observed in a “golden rule” sort of way. Those in the community were for each other, not against each other, and there was a solid foundation of Judeo-Christian morals. Sadly, like much of the Rust Belt, the town has been mired in economic decay and related issues over the past few decades, but when I was growing up there it was Mayberry. Well, actually, the town was probably past its peak of prosperity and already in decline, but we didn’t realize it at the time, it was a great place to grow up.
A good portion of the community went to church—not everyone, of course—but the traditional, mainline, denominational Protestant Churches were well represented, and there was a well-attended Catholic Church. There were some radical “Jesus-freaks” out on the fringes of town too, but they made the rest of us nervous. “That’s okay for you,” seemed to be the prevailing mindset in the circles I moved in, “just leave us alone, let us go to our little neighborhood churches where we keep religion and politics out of our conversations, and you keep the holy-roller stuff to yourselves.” I was going to church several times a week myself—youth group or choir practice on Wednesdays, Sunday morning service every week, then a Sunday school session, youth group on Sunday nights. And I’d often be on some rock climbing, hiking biking or other adventure with other youth group kids throughout the weekend’s free time.
My experiential learning as I grew up in this setting was that if I was a good member of the community and did my part, I’d have a pretty good life, and everything would be fine. A few different friends back then asked me questions like, “Is Jesus your Lord and Savior?” or “Do you know what’s going to happen when you die?” I think one of them specifically asked me “Don’t you want to be born-again?” I can see now they’d each had an encounter with Jesus, which they were trying to share with me, but I had no clue what they were talking about. I would squirm inside and say something like, “Well, I don’t know about all that, but I’m a good citizen, I go to church, I’m nice to people—I have it covered. I don’t think I need that stuff. Really… I’m good.”
After I finished school, right on schedule I went off to college, got a degree, and started a career. By that stage, I had fully bought into what you might characterize as western consumerism. All I needed was more. If I wasn’t happy, I just needed an upgrade. My parents had given me their old Renault Le Car to get through college, so when I started earning a real paycheck I knew I’d buy a better car, and then eventually trade up to a convertible.
Then once I started working, I moved out of the frat-house style rental in college, into a better apartment with a few guys. Before long, I bought my own townhouse. The cheap beer I drank in college was upgraded to microbrews, and eventually to semi-fine wine. If I had a cute girlfriend and I got bored with her (or more likely, she dumped me) then I would just find a cuter one. In short, I was doing everything society was telling me I should do to have a good life, and I was doing it well. But no matter how many upgrades I made, I started feeling more and more empty and unsettled inside. I didn’t realize it for a long time, but I was growing desperately tired of running from the emptiness.
In the midst of that, in my late twenties, the Lord architected a series of circumstances that forced me to confront my spiritual standing. The story is too long to tell here – but don’t ever let anyone tell you the Lord doesn’t have a sense of humor. I’m sure He was chuckling the whole time He used my very own sin to reel me in to His Kingdom. (You can read all the juicy details in Chapter 3).
Confronted with a choice – was He in or out of my life? – I knew I wasn’t contemplating what to do with my Sundays. I’d done that – and never knew God. No, I knew I was deciding what to do with my whole life, that I was making a choice on what my relationship with God looked like on any given Tuesday. When I finally made the choice that my life was His, I was truly all in.
Now, like most of you, I was at work on any random Tuesday, so I quickly ran into the challenge of trying to figure out how to live out my faith in the office, and soon enough, my own company. That’s a multi-decade adventure that’s still unfolding … and the stories you’ll find in At Work as in Heaven.