I have been a Seventh-day Adventist Christian my entire life. My mother reminds me that I was “born in the message.” I have never considered myself to be governed by traditions. Instead, I have viewed myself as a non-cookie cutter, self-thinking, free-spirited, and inquisitive type of person. For many years, I unquestioningly followed the religious traditions passed down in my family. Growing up, I knew that I could not go to my friends’ birthday parties or sleepovers on Friday nights because it was Sabbath and I had church the next morning. I made sure to confirm the “cleanliness” of the foods that I would eat outside of my house. I also knew that I could not wear jewelry, especially if I wished to continue living in my mother’s house. Though I often felt restrained and boxed in, I have followed these rules and many others simply because my mother did. What she has taught me to do has shaped my identity. Though I practiced religion, I never truly understood the reason why I did these things, nor was there a sense of a relationship or devotion to God in doing them. It was all a routine. By the time I reached high school, I grew weary of going through the motions and continually putting on a show. I stopped observing the Sabbath regularly and disregarded all biblical dietary guidelines. Knowing that I would soon leave home for college, I made plans on how I would enjoy my independence. Being away from home (and my mother) meant that all the rules and traditions would no longer be enforced. I could finally be that self-thinking, free-spirited and inquisitive person.
Before leaving home, my mother reminded me to look up churches near campus that I could attend during undergrad. Secretly intending to never follow through, I searched for Adventist churches near MSU’s campus, only to please my mother. After arriving at MSU, I transitioned to being independent, adjusting to dorm life, and navigating my way around the large campus on CATA buses. It is at that time that I began feeling homesick. Though I was almost always surrounded by people, I felt so lonely. By the time Friday came and my first week in college was over, I was craving fellowship and companionship. The only place I knew I could find those things was at church. I decided to go to Adventist Student Fellowship (ASF) Friday night Vespers and see what would happen. When I arrived, I was shocked at what I saw. People my age were excited and involved with religious matters! Young people organized the whole program. They sang, prayed, had Bible study, and were engaged in deep discussions on applying Biblical principles. Not only was I inspired by them, but I was also drawn to them. I wanted to be on fire for God like they were.
So began my conversion. I became more involved and regularly attended ASF vespers and their weekly “Tuesdays with Jesus” Bible study session on campus. I also received personal Bible studies. In those I learned and understood the rules and regulations that I meaninglessly observed for so long. I learned that they were not restrictions to prevent me from having fun. Praying and studying the Bible slowly became a part of my daily personal life. I felt more accountable to apply and practice the things that I learned from God’s Word. It became clear to me that any biblical principle was based on the love relationship with God. My views and ideas on the world around me and myself have drastically changed. My self-thinking and inquisitive mind has been blown away as I become more acquainted with God, as revealed in Scripture. I eventually became an active member and leader of ASF. The best thing about my transformation is that it was not prompted by my mother or even me. Jesus drew me to Himself through His Word. The more I studied, the more I saw a new perspective of God. His character was revealed to me and I could not help but fall in love with Him. I can now say that Adventism is not just my mother’s religion. My faith and relationship with Jesus is a personal journey through which I continually mature until the day I see the lovely face of my God. The Bible says in John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” These words have been fulfilled in my life and I have personally experienced the joy of knowing God. He wants to have an intimate and personal relationship with you as well. Would you let Him in, today?