by Robert Flores
I’d like to just talk now about being a Christian, and perhaps get into some specific areas where I’ve seen God work in my life. I've been to hell. You might be thinking "Oh, come on, Robert, surely you’re exaggerating". Well, first of all, hell isn’t just the fire and death and decay. Hell is being separated from God by your sin. And I was separated from Him for 15 years. I wanted to live life MY way: "the best way." I thought I could do it on my own. But I could not. No matter what I did that seemed good, it wasn’t good enough.
Good grades didn’t make me happy. Being the best artist in school didn’t make me happy. If you would have stripped away art and school from me, I would have had no purpose in life. (Not that those are purposes anyway). I didn’t know God wanted a relationship with me. I didn’t know that He had saved me from my sins! Was I stupid, or just disinterested in it all? My family loved me, and I knew they did; we spent time together and we always had plenty. So how come I was always so depressed? Was it normal for a teenager to be this depressed? I mean , I saw the world changing right before my eyes (or maybe the way I perceived it.) I saw my own body changing. Everyone else was changing too. What ever happened to the days where I could go home and watch Voltron® and Transformers® on TV? Whatever happened to the days where we would play spy with the neighborhood kids. Everything was so simple and innocent back then. Whatever happened to my St. Edward’s classmates? I was alone. I was alienated from myself, from the world, from nature, and most importantly from God. I did not have peace. Oh, sure I could put a smile on, but on the inside I hated everything. I hated school and everyone in it. I was a hypocrite: putting on a face for school, and taking my anger out on my parents and family. I had no social life, which didn’t really bother me, because I’d rather do art, than be social. But the thought of people having fun while I was the stupid little school-boy artist was frustrating to me. I had one "friend". But when that "friendship" was over I had no friends. Or, so I thought. The day that I found Jesus Christ (or, should I say the day He found me), I had a Friend that would never let me go: The Friend of friends.
I was no longer depressed. I could handle life. Life wasn’t meant to be full of torture and torment. God’s love empowered me to see that. Yes, the world was changing for the worst. Yes, I was changing, but for the better! I no longer had to reminisce about childhood innocence, for God had imparted a foreign innocence to me. I had every day to live for Christ. He was someone I could love, someone I could trust. He was someone who would never leave me. He was someone who everyone had pretty much heard about, but no one knew Him. So, I would know Him, if no one else wanted Him. I would love Him. They could have their gods. I’d take my God. I was a Christian. I was different from the crowd. I wanted to be different, so here was my chance!
Instead of doing evil things, I did things that were openly Christian. Did I care if I had no social life with the world? No! They were in hell already. (I had been there already and I wasn’t going back) Did I care if the girls thought I was a dweeb? Not really. Not as much as before. I didn’t hate people anymore. They were creatures of God; lost, but still God’s creatures. My hypocrisy declined. I no longer had to be cool, or talk a certain way, or have psuedo-happiness, or laugh at every stupid thing. I could be normal. I could finally be the person God had always wanted me to be. For the first time in my life I could choose between obedience or disobedience to God. Jesus had freed me from my sins; He had given me peace. I had an inner confidence that penetrated to all areas of my life: school, art, family.
I was growing in faith, still learning, but I was nowhere near where I was when I didn’t know Jesus. I had no best friend, so Jesus became my best Friend. Plus, He brought me new Christian friends whom I could fellowship with. My self-esteem went up. I didn’t have to get good grades or respect from peers. I no longer had to try to do perfect things all the time. Jesus accepted me the way I was. I didn’t have to earn His love, or His blessings, or His peace. All I did was trust Him! That’s it! It was so simple I never knew it! People STILL don’t know Jesus. Their education won’t satisfy them. Drugs, sex, greed, money, power, alcohol, NOTHING will satisfy them. Solomon said, "All is vanity". And he had EVERYTHING money could buy!
I know where I’ve been, I know where I am and I know where I’m going. And it’s a great feeling. I know who I was and I’m not going back, I know who I am and I know who I’ll be for eternity. I know what used to satisfy me, I know what satisfies me now, and I know what will satisfy me forever: Jesus. It’s amazing. I used to think God had a lot of competition in my life. I mean I was the "best artist ever". It’s funny. Now, I know that He has no competition in my life. No one, or no THING could ever compare to Him.
People ask why I’m a Christian. I could point them to what God has done in my life, or what blessings that come with it, or because it makes intellectual sense, but the most important reason is that I need the love of Jesus Christ. I need to LOVE Him! Everyone needs His love and to love Him back. I am no different. Jesus loves me. And I love Him.
April 29, 1999