Growing up in the Bible Belt meant that my family went to church every Sunday. Church and religion was crammed down my throat. Instead of developing a bad taste for those things, though, I started to investigate deeper into their purpose.
The word "church" for a lot of people has a negative connotation and is associated with past painful experiences.
When I started to question church and religion, it was because I felt discontent and unsatisfied with what they offered me.
Attending church every Sunday was not satisfying. I wanted something more meaningful than what religion had to offer me.
After many church camps, perfect Sunday morning attendance, and endless service hours, I determined that religion is not for me.
I don't believe in religion but I am a Christian and believe in Jesus.
Religion runs the soul dry. It demands your best and only your best. However, Jesus wants your worst, your weaknesses, and your weariness. For me, I had a moment, which I call the "Jesus moment", at FUGE camp the summer after I graduated high school.
I wasn't even supposed to be at FUGE that summer but God orchestrated the entire situation to place me right where I needed to be. I went with no expectations of the week except a terrible Bible study group like I usually got, miserable rec times, and cardboard-like food. The first day there, though, I could tell something was different than any of my past experiences. My soul was restless and my stomach was uneasy.
Halfway through the week, God had ripped through my low expectations and attitude towards religion.
On Wednesday night I felt God more strongly than I have ever before. I couldn't stop shaking and my stomach was in a knot.
I knew he was calling me to something deeper than just my Sunday morning worship.
For someone who doesn't like showing emotion, it was hard for me to open up and be completely vulnerable with my church group that evening after worship. It terrified me to let them see me in my weakness because religion had told me for so long that that wasn't acceptable.
Jesus freed me by his love even in my imperfections so I didn't have to be concerned about the judgment of religion, other people, or even myself.
This is what I call my "Jesus moment." I would define the "Jesus moment" as the moment that I stopped pursuing religion and perfection and placed my life in the hands of the One who loves me in my imperfections. The "Jesus moment" isn't just realizing that God is real and that Jesus is alive. It isn't just, "being a good Christian" by going to church, reading the Bible, praying for others, and serving on a mission trip or two. It's all those things but after the "Jesus moment" there's a vital change.
The change is not unnoticeable but it's not unnerving.
Suddenly, you're completely vulnerable with a God who desires nothing more than your failures and faults.
Suddenly, you see God for God and you can't get enough. Suddenly, those things you used to do like read your Bible, go to church, and serve on mission trips become the highest honor and not a chore.
This change is almost indescribable. Everything you thought you wanted; everything you thought you knew; everything you thought was right fades away in the light of His glory. The "Jesus Moment" isn't just a simple confession of faith. It's the moment you deny everything you are and focus on the One who is everything.