In my younger years, I grew up in a Christian home and was rather sheltered from a lot of things that were going on in the secular world outside of school and church. So when I graduated high school and moved to another state to attend college in a bigger city than where I grew up, I witnessed with my own eyes people taking part in sins that I had only heard about. Some of the sins had no appeal to me, such as drugs and drunkenness. But there was one thing that I embraced–dance parties and clubs.
Being in a metropolis, I was exposed to a lot of secular music I had never heard before and much of it was music that encouraged me to get into dancing like rap, hip-hop, and dance music. As I saw the people in college going out to party on Fridays and Saturdays dressed in their nice party clothes and the pretty young ladies looking good and smelling nice, I felt as if I was missing out on something exciting. The party people looked like they were having the time of their lives, so eventually I decided to join them to see what I was missing. I went to as many frat parties, clubs, and dance parties my tight college budget could afford. Once I got into the party scene, I felt so excited to be out on the dance floor dancing with pretty girls all night long from 10 pm to 3 am.
Although I never got into the drinking or getting drunk, my relationship with Christ became the least of my concerns. I was more concerned about having fun and being part of what the “in” crowd was doing and being accepted by my party friends. And in the midst of it, I let go of my regular Bible study, meditation, and prayer and stopped attending church. But I didn’t care at that point since I was having so much fun–or so I thought.
After a couple of years of the club-hopping and dance parties on the weekends, I took a good look at myself and those around me doing the same things I was. I noticed something about myself. All the club-hopping and partying did not satisfy me deep down inside. And the people who were right there with me partying had a lot of personal problems and were dissatisfied with their lives. Their family problems and other problems in their personal lives turned out to be why they turned to their partying, drunkenness, drugs, and sex outside of marriage. But after I realized I didn’t have the family problems or personal problems they were facing and the partying didn’t really do anything for me, I came to the realization that I was better off when I was living my life for the Lord.
I took a good look at my life before the club-hopping and after I started the club-hopping and had to be honest with myself. God had really blessed my life when I was living for him and my life of partying didn’t provide anything close to the good things God had given to me, like peace of mind. I had run away from the Lord chasing after what the world had to offer and what they offered me was absolutely nothing. At first the partying felt like it was the place to be, but in the end there was nothing but emptiness. The lust of the world had sold me a false bill of goods and I had bought into it hook, line, and sinker! What a fool I was to have fallen for it! The Lord was calling me back to him after all the stuff I had done to hurt him. “My God! What have I done?” was one of the things I had to ask myself as I looked back and saw all of the worldliness I had participated in. It brought me to tears and I ran back to my Father crying out for his forgiveness one night, realizing how far I had strayed from where God had called me to be.
After crying in private for several hours in remorse and repentance, I felt free and set my heart and mind back to the things that pleased God. I was so grateful that God was so patient, longsuffering, merciful, and gracious toward me! Even during my time of being backslidden and chasing after ungodly lusts, he was preserving my life and looking out for me in all my ungratefulness and unfaithfulness.
But as I was once again drawing closer and closer to the Father, it wasn’t easy and Satan attempted to throw situations my way to try to discourage me from strengthening my relationship with my Heavenly Father. My beliefs were being attacked by liberal professors and a cultish church tried to woo me into their membership by twisting God’s word. It was during these times that I was grateful that I was rooted in God’s word at a young age. My knowledge wasn’t where it should have been, but I knew enough about God’s word to discern the lies. The spiritual attacks I faced at this time helped me see how important it was to know God and his word and I started studying God’s word and praying with such fervence that I never had before. I was clinging to his word for dear life and had determined that I couldn’t allow anyone to ever teach me things that were covertly or overtly against God or his word.
I still have a long way to go in Christ and have struggles like anyone else against my flesh, but I thank God for his lovingkindness and tender mercies that he has shown to me–his son who was once a club-hopping prodigal.
–posted by Harry A. Gaylord–