The following is a story of God's grace submitted by Schuyler, who was originally one of our Global Family members and now attends Mars Hill Church Bellevue.
I was saved at age 4 and had godly parents, but there has always been a disconnect between who I was and how I thought and behaved. I have gone to church and read the Bible since I can remember, but strongholds and pride were deeply embedded in my soul. In my head, I believed that Jesus saves people through faith, but functionally I lived to produce results and performance.
I began watching pornography and as it often does, it quickly became an addiction. I found myself living a dual life—memorizing verses and serving at my parent's church, all the while having unholy eyes, hands, and mind.
As I grew older, I thought more and more about how guilty I was, but I had no desire to confess my sin—no godly sorrow (2 Cor. 7:10). I only wanted to escape from the consequence of living in fear of the day when others found me out. The more I sinned, the more I felt guilty and wretched, and thus the more I believed the lie that others would separate themselves from me if they knew.
Sometimes I tried to control my sin by staying busy, but that only replaced one idol with another for a while. Working long hours, taking tons of classes, video games, and long commutes promised to distract me from the lifestyle I knew was killing me, but they never satisfied me. One chapter of Scripture that was frequently on my mind was Psalm 51, written by David as a song of repentance. Night after night I read that Psalm in disbelief of the promise of restoration that David anticipated, instead only identifying with his guilt and sin.
When Mars Hill Church Bellevue started their 4PM service, I decided to start visiting since I had been a part of the Mars Hill global family for some years. When I came, I was invited into a Community Group where I found godly men who were open about their struggles with lust. I was shocked at how freely they bore each other’s burdens, praying for one another with understanding, and holding each other accountable. Not diminishing the weight of their sin, but proclaiming the truth of the gospel—that Jesus came to suffer and die to reconcile us to God and it is His righteousness that allows us to put our sin to death every day.
Torn by the desires inside me, the time in Community Group showed me how deep my sin had affected me. While everyone else was unaware, Jesus was using my own words to convict me of sin during our sermon discussions, revealing inconsistencies in my heart. As the Spirit was working on me, I saw how my sin separated me from everyone I loved and how staying in the darkness kept me from true community with God's people.
Then one Sunday, one of the pastors at Mars Hill called for people to be baptized. I knew that God wanted me to obey and make a public declaration of my faith, but I also knew that it was his will for me to confess my sin and walk in the light.
What happened next was not because of my morality, religiosity, or holiness: Jesus changed my heart, bringing me from a state of self-pity, guilt, remorse, and pride, to what David calls, "a contrite heart" (v.17). I confessed my sin and was baptized, celebrating with my family and Community Group.
I can't say that it was easy to repent, or that all the consequences of my sin vanished before my eyes, but I can say that God is a loving Father who wants his kids to come home and there's nothing you can do to stop that from happening. He changed me and is changing me right now to become more like Jesus. It’s nearly been an entire year and there are still scars I bear, but I know that God is faithful and will complete the good work he began in me (Phil. 1:6). He has transformed my desires and by the grace of God, I haven't gone back since.
David concludes Psalm 51 with, "Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you." That promise is being fulfilled in my life. I am currently a member of the church and get to see Jesus work in me and in other people every week in community while I serve on Sundays and learn to lead a group—relying on the Spirit, not my own strength.
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