From the world’s perspective and even his church, Jonathan was an accomplished attorney and community leader. He taught Sunday school and was chairman of deacons, traveled abroad on mission trips, was active in habit of humanity and led inner city outreach activities helping the downtrodden. Although his service was noble, he was out of God’s will and calling. Jonathan’s first charge and call to service is ministering to his wife and leading his family. If you win everywhere but home, you lose. Psalm 127:1; I Timothy 3:5. (You can hear Jonathan’s testimony at media link)
I grew up going to a Baptist church and was in church almost every Sunday all the way through high school. I got baptized when I was twelve, however, it was meaningless because I did not know Jesus. I knew in my mind who Jesus was and believed He died on the cross and rose from the grave, however, I did not truly know Jesus and because I refused to repent and turn to Him Jesus did not know me.
I was quiet and shy growing up but wanted to be popular so in order to be “cool” I started drinking at an early age and in high school was doing drugs. I cleaned myself up a little before I went to college at Wake Forest University, however, I was drinking heavily in college. I eventually got my degree and went to law school at Wake Forest where I cut back on partying because law school was hard and as a future professional I felt I could not be doing that old stuff. During college and law school I went to church on and off but figured I would “get right” with God when I got out in the real world and got a family.
I started off working as an attorney in Greenville, North Carolina and did my share of going out to the college bars on the weekends but for the most part tried to play the part of the respectful professional. I went to church out of a way to make contacts and because that is what young attorneys do – find a church and join it to build up your status in the community. As time went on I started going downtown more and more. I became disillusioned with the young professional life, the party life became more and more appealing. Everybody liked being out at the bar with the young hot shot attorney, at least that is how I saw myself. My life became more and more hedonistic but I had joined a church and was going most Sundays and even on Wednesday nights and was even on committees in the church but in reality I was walking in darkness and going further and further into the Greenville party life.
In the summer of 1998 God spoke to me, though at the time I refused to acknowledge it was God, and He was calling me to Him but I told Him that I did not need Him so he let me have my way. And for the next two years my life spiraled out of control. I fooled myself into believing that all was well but I knew inside that my life was crumbling. In 2001 I had an uncle die and at his funeral I said to myself that I knew he was in heaven and a calm non-condemning voice asked me where I would be. I began trying to straighten myself up. I got even more active in church and decided I was going to cut out all the partying, but found that I could not.
As 2002 started things were looking up, in least in the eyes of the world. I was working for one of the best law firms in town, had received a big raise( I always could work hard and get the work done even when partying four nights a week), I had a new house, and had just gotten engaged to a beautiful young girl. I had pretty much attained every goal I had set out to get, in the eyes of the world I was a successful young lawyer on the way to the top.
However, on Thursday, January 31, 2002 I went out to celebrate the birthday of the father of a friend who had died two years earlier. I ended up staying out until the early hours of Friday morning and had gotten into an argument with my fiancée and made a fool of myself. I woke up the next day and I was miserable, my life did not make sense and I had a deep almost indescribable feeling of dread. That feeling lasted all weekend even though I went to church that Sunday and read the entire gospel of Matthew that Sunday afternoon. Finally, when that feeling was still there Tuesday morning I went home for lunch and got out Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God, which I was studying when God spoke to me in the summer of 1998 and I quit studying after I told Him I did not need Him, and I do not to this day remember what I read, but God by His grace revealed to me that Jesus died on the cross because of my sin. I remember running around saying “He(Jesus) did that for me”.
I realized that I was living in rebellion to God and that agonizing feeling that I carried for four days was God’s wrath against my sin. I praise God that He did not let me explain away that feeling and go on with my life of rebellion against Him. God revealed to me that day the things I would have to give up and told me that I would lose friends. I chose that day to reject my old life and to turn to Jesus to follow Him. Though I have stumbled a many a time, I welcome God’s chastisement to strip me of everything that does not glorify Jesus.