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Stories of Light - Joel Storie

There was a period of my life after college where I basically got tired of following the rules of Christianity. Because I never understood or really believed in God as any sort of actual powerful being, but instead just thought of it as just the right thing to do, when things came up in my life that were more interesting to me at the time, like drinking and partying, it was not that hard for me to let go of Christianity. I thought of christianity as just a way of thinking about life. It wasn’t that I completely rejected all of it wholeheartedly, I just wanted to do my own thing and didn’t want to think about it. I began to wonder why this is more compelling or more true than other things. So, as I got into drinking and just having a good time with friends, Christianity slid away pretty easily. At some point I realized I didn’t believe it anymore. 

I was hanging out with people who were in the same place in a lot of ways. We basically just partied and got drunk a lot.  It was fun for a little while and I had camaraderie with people, but it isn’t very long when that stuff just starts to lose its luster. You start realizing that the people around you are just as selfish as you are. Everyone is just out for their own fun and trying to be happy. I started to feel lonely even though I had friends around. Over time, the same way I couldn’t explain what Christianity was, I couldn’t explain what I was doing or what the meaning of it was. I was in this dark tunnel and I noticed myself basically becoming a worse person. I became more angry and selfish. 

The biggest issue for me, though, was that there was no meaning to anything I was doing. It felt like there was a hole opening up below my feet and I was falling through empty space. Sometimes, the way people bill this is, “I was having a good time, then I met Jesus and he took me to have a good time with him.” In my experience, it's not like that. You’re having a horrible time and wondering why you can’t connect with people well or why you are more insecure and you just can’t explain it. 

After about two years of going through that period, then I was getting a little desperate. I was realizing that this wasn’t working. I still had friends who were Christians from college and, at that point, I began to notice them. I began to notice that they had calm and peace in their lives. They were like beacons of light. They didn’t even say anything, but I knew their lives were better than mine somehow. They had calm. They had peace. And I didn’t.

But I still didn’t know how to explain Christianity. It was still no more true, now that something else also isn’t true. But because of those people, I did feel a pull towards it. Maybe I was missing something. 

One night after going out and getting drunk, I came home late and I was laying on my floor and I said to God, “this isn‘t working, so if you’re real, then I need you to do something about it.” I really didn’t expect much out of that but, in that exact moment, I felt the presence of God. I felt this insane feeling of calm and relief. I started realizing, “Wow, this is holy ground. This is real.”  

The next day, I woke up, and it was the craziest day of my life. I still had this insane feeling of calm and relief. Throughout that day, I kept crying. There were a few people I was around that I just didn’t like.  I remember seeing those people that day and feeling this weird love towards them and even crying about it. It was literally such a huge contrast from not having God and then having Him. God was illustrating to me, through His Spirit, the reality of that high contrast. 

I think the difference between that and the Christianity I knew before, was the idea of dependence. The idea that I now needed God and needed Him to do the work. And He actually did. From then on, I started down this path of absolute dependence.  Prayer became an actual thing where God would show up. I could talk to him, and he would answer.  It was more than an experience, it was truth embodied. The truth of what life can be. Some people may call that “having an experience” but for me, it was truth moving into my life.  It was absolute night to absolute day. 

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