What Matters Most
What I had understood as the Christian life completely fell apart for me. I thought the Christian life was all based on my behaviors. Inwardly I was a mess because I had betrayed everything that I had thought the Christian faith was all about.
I’m a church kid. I grew up in the church my whole life. I have great Christian parents, who are Godly and respectable. When I was nine years old, I attended a church camp. I remember this guy, Walkeen Dumuss, preached a message on God the Holy Spirit and how the Holy Spirit would live in the hearts of those who were saved and would help them live for God. I wanted that. It meant something to me that Jesus would temporarily die in my place on the cross for my sin, so that I wouldn’t have to eternally die in hell for my sin. As Pastor Dumuss finished his sermon, he asked if anyone wanted to accept Jesus as their Savior. I went and told him about my desire. It was at that point that I really trusted Jesus as my Savior. Yeah, I was just a kid, but in a childlike way, I knew I needed Jesus.
Time went by and my whole life was really isolated within the church and within Christian environments. Outwardly I was doing a lot of the right “Christian-y” things, even though inwardly, to be honest, I was really a mess. Secret sexual sin took deep roots in me starting at age 16. Not many people knew it… but I did… and God did.
I graduated from my Christian high school and did the Christian thing by going to a Christian college. My junior and senior year of college was horrible – sexual sin continued; alcohol became a major problem; a love for money was driving me to theft and other illegal behavior. What I had understood as the Christian life completely fell apart for me. I thought the Christian life was all based on my behaviors. Inwardly I was a mess because I had betrayed everything that I had thought the Christian faith was all about.
But God is so gracious to sinners like me. During my senior year in college, my brother, Phil, had come down to my college as a freshman. He got really involved in a local church with a small college and singles ministry called Apex. He kept trying to get me to come. I kept pushing him away. At that point in my life, I wanted nothing to do with God. I was bitter toward the church – too many hypocrites…too judgmental… too old-fashioned. One day, as my brother was getting involved with the youth group at this church, he didn’t have anybody to drive the vans for their youth ministry program. I, however, was old enough to rent and drive a van. So Phil called me and asked me if I would be a chaperone for a paintball event for the youth group. Since I love my brother, I said “yes”. Interestingly, that’s when God started opening my eyes. That was my frist step back into the church – through a paintball event with a bunch of rowdy middle schoolers.
Through a series of other events right after I graduated college, God got my attention.
One of my college roommates I had lived with and done life with for the past 4 or 5 years ended up in a severe car accident. I will never forget getting that phone call saying, “Hey, Jeff is in the hospital.” They had to put him in an induced coma so that the swelling on his brain could go down. It was really hard to see my friend that way in the hospital. They said he would be in that coma for a month, maybe more. I had a backpacking trip scheduled to go to Europe. I decided to go and hope when I returned he would be out of his coma. Just a few days into that trip I got a voicemail telling me Jeff had passed away. I got an emergency plane ticket and flew home for his funeral. That was the first time that I had come face to face with death for somebody I really knew and loved and was my age. At that funeral, God broke me down. I’m not really an emotional guy or a teary guy, but at that funeral I remember crying my eyes out and just thinking, “God, some day I’m going to be the one in the grave. Some day it’s gonna be me in that hole in the ground. What will my life have mattered? Will it have mattered at all? Is this where all this party lifestyle will lead me?”
After his funeral I flew back to Europe. I’ll never forget sitting on this mountaintop in Edinburgh, Scotland, looking over the whole city. I remember looking over the edge and thinking, “I could jump. All this pain and heartache and emptiness could be over.” But it was in that moment God really spoke to me. Not in an audible voice, but in the depths of my heart, I sensed him saying, “Jason, if you will surrender your life to me I will use it. I will use it for my glory.” I remember thinking, “God, how could you use a guy like me – with a life full sexual impurity, a life of thievery, a life of crime?” Yet at the same time, God just said, “Jason, if you give me your life I will use it for my glory.” After that, I made a decision on that mountaintop in Edinburgh, Scotland to live the rest of my days for Jesus Christ. It was the day that this prodigal son decided to come home.
I started getting really involved in the local church with my brother, Phil. It was amazing to see the way that God started to work. I grew up believing that God was not really a God of mercy, but that He was only a God of justice. But God delights to show us mercy. I didn’t delight to show mercy to anyone, but God delighted to show mercy to me. All that junk that I had been apart of, all the sin that I had been doing – God delighted to show me His mercy. I remember singing the song, “The Wonderful Cross” at an event soon after and really understanding that cross where Jesus died, taking all of our sin on Himself, that that was His place where He delighted to show us mercy. Ever since then, I have been so appreciative of the cross. I haven’t been sinless or perfect, but I’ve desired to live my life in any way that God would put on my heart to live.
By His grace, He’s opened many doors for me. God allowed me to serve in ministry to teenagers for more than 7 years. He blessed me to be in a Christian band that got to play at some of the biggest Christian music festivals in the country. Therefore, I got to share the gospel with thousands of people. During that time God brought my wife, Rachel, into my life – she is such who a godly, trustworthy, gentle, and nurturing woman. Now He’s blessed my wife and I with four kids – Reagan, Gideon, Jonny, and Liberty. I’ve been in ministry at Apex for over 12 years now. And it is really unbelievable considering where I was 15 years ago. I’m just so thankful for what God has done. I’m not yet who I want to be… and I’m not yet who I will be… but praise God I am not who I once was.
The Scripture says that if ANY man is in Christ, he is a new creation. No matter how messed up your life is, if you’re broken because of how shamefully sinful you are, or if you’re broken because of how religiously self-righteous you are, know this – God makes all things new!
My life verse now is Philippians 2:16, which just has a little phrase that says, “That I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.” I don’t want to waste my life. I want to stand before God and say, “I made many failures in my life, but, by your grace, I didn’t waste it.” I want to live in every way that I can for Jesus. I believe the same Holy Spirit who came into my life at age 9 is the same Spirit that didn’t let me go when I rebelled in my 20’s. And is the same Spirit that will change me and keep me until the day I see Jesus face to face.
Author: Jason Wing