A Story of God’s Grace: Matt’s Testimony
I was raised in a small hamlet in upstate New York just west of Albany. My mother’s side of the family is Lutheran, and my dad’s side of the family is Catholic. I was raised in the Lutheran church, but never really understood the gospel and my relationship with the Lord. Back then I would have said that as long as you went to church and were relatively “good” then you were all set. Everything boiled down to tradition. If you asked why we were baptized as babies, tradition was the answer. Confirmation? Because everyone does it when they are a certain age – tradition. Yet, I felt that something was missing from the picture. There was something that never sat right with me about the explanations (or lack of explanations) about what we did and why we did it. I think what I was missing was an actual relationship with God.
When I was 13, we lost my dad to a long battle of cancer. All at once I was thrown into a different life that required me to grow up fast. I rebelled as a teenager and young adult. For a while I stopped looking for a relationship with God and became numb to the idea of a relationship with Him. I lived for the world which led to me giving in to sin. When I went away to college, at Johnson & Wales, I struggled with pornography and an unhealthy view of sex and desired to live for the world because I thought that’s where I’d find happiness.
In college I would still go to church when I went home, but never looked for a church while I was in Providence. I became comfortable in the place that I was in, but still thought there could be something more than just church here and there. One summer while I was in college I was looking for a new summer job and some friends had mentioned this Christian summer camp near Albany. That summer I worked in the kitchen and spent the entire time around Christians. I was getting answers about God and I could notice how He was working in me. I learned so much that summer about God and his word. Yet, even though he was working in me, I went back to school and continued to struggle and stray. At the end of my junior year I met two Christians in a pastry lab at Johnson & Wales, Hannah and Kim. They started talking to me and sharing about Christian Student Fellowship on campus. They invited me and I went to one or two meetings before the end of the year. The next fall trimester, I went back to school and started getting involved with CSF and started coming to Grace Harbor. I believe this is when God changed my heart and called me to live for his glory. I understood that I was (and am) a sinner, and that I can only be saved by His grace through Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. He showed me that I needed to repent of my sin and look to Him for salvation. That was the answer. That was the thing that was missing!
Since then, God has continued to show me my many sins and faults. Yet, He has helped me rely on Him more and more, as I continue to learn of His love and grace.
But everything that was gain to me, I have considered to be loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Phil. 3:7-8)