Growing up, I had very little exposure to religion. My grandparents took me to church a few times, but my immediate family did not attend any church. I went through high school and college with typical ups and downs. I graduated, got a job, moved to Chicago, got married, and thought life was fine, but I was still searching for something. What that ‘something’ was, I had no idea.
Shortly after I was married, I began to worry about our future. Despite making a comfortable living, I was constantly stressed about having enough money. Financial security was always on my mind and I was never at ease. Not only was I stressed about money and security, I constantly compared myself to others. When I didnʼt measure up, I got very depressed. My self-worth fell dramatically, even though I was actually doing quite well. To lift myself up, I began to compete in triathlons and marathons. I did well in these races and it quickly turned into an obsession. I put all my energy and free time into training. I thought that if I was faster than all my friends and coworkers, then Iʼd feel good about myself. My priorities were way out of whack, I was depressed, and my marriage suffered.
Despite my struggles, my wife stood by me. During the summer of 2011, she suggested we check out Park. We enjoyed the service and, coincidently, the Alpha course was starting that Tuesday. We were intrigued and decided to check it out. She was confirmed in the Catholic church and needed a refresher, I was just plain curious. I really enjoyed each and every session during the course and was becoming more and more intrigued with this guy they kept referring to called Jesus.
During this time, I was still training extremely hard for the Chicago marathon, and I was in the best shape of my life. I just knew that I was going to have an awesome race and all my hard work would pay off. Iʼd make my goal time, people would look up to me, and Iʼd feel amazing. But, God had other plans. Around mile 24, my body couldnʼt go any farther and I was forced to drop out of the race. How could this be?!, I thought. I trained so hard, I was ready, I sacrificed so much, there is no way this could happen. What are people going to think of me now? I put so much emphasis on this race, so much was riding on it. For me to not hit my goal time would be a disaster. But to not even finish? It brought me to one of the lowest points of my life.
Fortunately for me, the Alpha retreat was happening just a few weeks later. It was there that I realized that no amount of money can give me the safety and security that Jesus can. It was there that I realized that no athletic achievement can ever fulfill me like Jesus can. It was there that I realized I was a selfish and sinful person in need of a savior. It was there that I realized it was Christ, and Christ alone, that could wash away my sins. I, with the help of my Alpha leader, asked Jesus to forgive me for my sins, come into my heart, and fill me with His Spirit.
Since then, my walk with Jesus has been awesome! My wife and I joined a small group and our marriage is stronger than ever. I have a sense of peace that I have never felt before. I realize that I donʼt have to look to races or to money or to anything or anyone else but Jesus to fulfill me. Because of Jesusʼ work on the cross, because of his unrelenting grace, I know that whatever happens, He is with me and will always be with me. He is now my security, and my salvation.