Personal Faith Story

A popular TV commercial used to say, “You only go around once in life, so you’ve got to grab for all the gusto you can get.” Well, I set out at a run to experience everything life had to offer me as soon as I got out of high school. My parents’ recent divorce was to me a serious contradiction of the values they had professed to me, and I decided I had to build my own life my own way. I moved out, got a job, and began dating an attractive woman.

But nobody had told me how difficult it is to keep your life exciting. It seems there is an economic and biological principle called the “Law of Diminishing Returns.” What it means is that the satisfaction, the fulfillment, the excitement from any given set of experiences grow less and less over time. In everything I was involved in — parties; relationships; drugs; travel; work; money — I constantly wanted more and better experiences to satisfy my desires. Although I was recognized among my friends as being dependent upon only myself and the freedom of my chosen lifestyle, that was not enough for me.

At one point I was experiencing some serious interpersonal relationship distress (you know, girlfriend problems). Even when everything else had let me down, I’d always been able to depend on her. Then, after three years, the relationship ended as a result of my mistake, and there was nothing left. Her absence made me realize there was a big hole in my life, and my numerous attempts to fill it with a series of other relationships and experiences proved patently unsuccessful.

An old friend from high school “happened” to be in town on a very critical weekend when I was struggling with these things. He “happened” to find me at home. He boldly asked how I was doing and in a rare moment of candor, I confessed that all was not well. He told me that he could depend on Jesus Christ to get him through all the challenges he faced, and that I could, too, if I wanted. Now, I had learned “all about God” in Sunday school, so I wasn’t too sure about this guy.

He patiently asked me to think about a verse in the Bible that said, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). Ironically, I recognized that I had memorized that verse as a child in Vacation Bible School many years before. I remember dusting off (cough, cough) the Bible my parents had once given me, stretching out on my waterbed, reading those words and thinking: “If God’s Word is going to show me the path for my life, I probably ought to read about it.”

So I started getting together with my friend and others who were reading and studying the Bible. Right away it seemed that whenever I had a question, there was a place in the Bible addressing it directly—almost like a personal message to me. As if God had anticipated my concern, and had written so long ago, “Dear Rick, In regard to your question about ________(blank)__________,” and there was His personal Word for me. For the first time I realized the Bible wasn’t just a book of ancient platitudes, but of living truth that had value and applied specifically to me.

It wasn’t long in my study before I understood an important part of God’s plan for my life: that He, too, wants it to be full and meaningful, because He loves me. The reason I couldn’t experience His love was that I was totally separated from Him by my attitude and actions which did not acknowledge Him.

For perhaps the first time I began to see why Jesus died on the cross: so I wouldn’t have to remain separated from God. I had heard this before, but when I found out that I could have the abundant life God promised by personally responding to Jesus and putting my faith in Him, I did so. I didn’t feel much different at the time, but it was exciting to know that the promises in His Word applied to me personally.

I had finally discovered that what was missing in my life wasn’t a woman, or exciting experiences, or anything else; but rather a personal relationship with God. I began to see God filling that hole in my life. He satisfied my desire for exciting experiences with an ever-growing desire to know Him better, the creator of the universe. He desires this relationship, too. How exciting is that?! I discovered He had also given me an ability to trust Him with my life, with a confidence that He’ll work out His perfect plan, just as His Word promised.

I had tried to depend on things and experiences and human relationships to satisfy me, but found instead that only God will not disappoint me, because He alone is eternal. Knowing Jesus Christ, the infinite creator God, personally, has shown me His great purpose for my life and all He has to offer me. That’s a lot more that all the gusto I could ever grab.

I have to tell you that the story doesn’t end there. It has been nearly forty years since, and through that time I have had ups and downs in my walk with Jesus. Yet His Word remains my unchanging reference point, and He has proven faithful at every turn, even when I am not.

I must tell you one further story. It is perhaps the greatest challenge I have ever faced. A series of events and (again) relationships inspired me to question everything I believed and had learned to that point in my Christian life. In near despair, I put it all on the table, to be examined and tested. I was prepared to abandon it if I found it wouldn’t stand the close scrutiny.

Whatever else I had learned to that point, I resolved that I could not abandon the truth that God is infinite, loving, and personal. Otherwise, He would not be God, and would not be worth knowing. I further resolved that He had chosen to reveal Himself to mankind in His Word, and in His Son Jesus. He confirmed Himself at every step, and allowed me to rebuild my faith even stronger than before, because His Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Now, my work at FaithSearch is all about the proclaiming the evidence which supports this faith — answering the questions and addressing the doubts I had when I placed it all on the table. FaithSearch Discovery clearly and compellingly demonstrates that the New Testament is the most reliable document of history; that Jesus did claim to be God, and that He made claims on the life of every person, which claims we must each answer for.

— Rick Wattman

Jesus promised His Word will never pass away — and as the song said, when time is no more, He is.

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