James - Reborn
The testimony of Jesus walking into my life is like that of a gardener walking into an unkempt garden. Minding the thorny bushes and overgrown patches of green, Jesus knew what I could become, and He knew that I wasn’t what I should be. I suppose that my childhood was similar to many others. I fondly remember morning car rides being ferried to middle school while my dad quizzed me on my vocabulary. My dad’s first language was Spanish and he didn’t want his American children to ever feel discriminated against because of their heritage. My mother would make me egg sandwiches, and by the end of a school day, all I wanted to do was play baseball or lay on my couch. At an early age I developed a distrust for people in authority. My parents modeled between themselves a resentful and bitter relationship which ended in divorce. I thought that their relationship was the status quo, and how they treated each other was how I was to treat anyone above me. Jesus was always paying attention to me during those early years, and He lovingly watched me to see what I would grow to be.
Things between Jesus and I didn’t change until I was around the age of sixteen. I heard about Him before; nearly every Sunday I would watch some sharply dressed man get behind a polished podium and talk for hours about Him. I didn’t listen to what those men said. People there at church seemed as plastic to me as the girls who sometimes danced on my television screen. I was hungry for something authentic, not rehearsed. I was frustrated, angry, and lonely at that time; most of all with myself. So I began to search through some of the major religions hoping that their prevalence would equal some sort of depth in their insight on life. Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism stuck out to me the most. The ones that never took my fancy were the non-religions: Agnosticism, Atheism, and the like. Even giving these things time to have an influence on me, I couldn’t see myself becoming what these structures embodied. Eventually I opened the Bible and read the Gospel account of Matthew. I poured over the pages and Jesus first seemed to me like some sort of superhuman, too powerful and unreal to be relatable. But as I read more, I noticed the all too human parts of Him. I noticed how He ate and drank. One time as His disciples and He were traveling over the Sea of Galilee, a storm came and threatened to turn over the boat. His disciples feared for their lives, but Jesus was asleep (I thought that was rather funny). He loved children and He loved to go to weddings. I could imagine Him laughing as He walked on the beaches of Galilee. What began during this time of discovery was that Jesus began to heal the hurts that were in my heart. It felt, surely, slowly, and absolutely that as I turned the pages of Matthew that Jesus was filling in the missing pieces of my heart. Everything that my Dad, Mom or siblings weren’t, He was. He became my best friend and my Lord.
I am twenty six now and Jesus is still my Lord, or in layman’s terms- my boss. He has led me to complete my degree in biology, conduct research at a top level neurology lab, complete the requirements for medical school, and work in a hospital for a few years. After preparing to enter medical school, He ultimately led me to pioneer a small college ministry in Auburn, Alabama. He was there for me when my Dad died from an aggressive form of prostate cancer. He has led me to repent from sins of hatred, pornography, distrust, dishonor, laziness, and pride. He is the boss of my life, and He is the only person that qualified for the job.
It is said that if you can address all of the inner problems of one man, then you can address all of the problems of his generation. In this view every person is a sort of microcosm, a glimpse at the soul of the world. If that really is the case, then there is a hope for us all. Whatever happened to Jesus during his thirty three years on earth, where God the Father and the Holy Spirit, were ultimately joined to him, happened to me. I have been reborn. Now whatever God did through Jesus, he can do through me.