What a life lived for Jesus really looks like

I was alone in my dorm room. Knees on the carpet, making an ultimatum. “I will serve you Jesus but I only have one request: Will you reveal yourself to me and guide my life in ways that only a loving God ever could?”

That was some 33 years ago, the spring semester of 1985 during my Freshman year at the University of Northwestern (then known as Northwestern College). I was in a bartering mood, I guess. God had took me to task for my sinful ways, and he showed up in a way that made me realize how far I’d drifted away from even pursuing him in my life.

Looking back, I now see how he has guided me step by step.

A few weeks after finding Christ, I worked at a Christian camp in Wisconsin. I met my wife, I got married and started raising a family. It’s all documented in my book Lifeblood, but it’s amazing to think that a simple prayer of salvation changed the direction of everything in my life.

What does a life lived for Jesus look like? A lot of mistakes, a sideways trip here and there, but a narrative that was always about closer and closer to the Savior. I can see that the verse “Man makes his plans but the Lord directs his footsteps” played out in real time. I’m living proof. Even the dry periods, the times when we made a mistake and thought we had not heard form God — we know those experiences also helps us move closer to God, sometimes because of our own suffering and sometimes because we had to try harder to hear God. Life falls into spiritual seasons, and the dry periods seem excruciating but in reality they always lead us one step closer to a fruitful season.

Kids being born, kids getting married, grandchildren. Life flows from one event to another, but with Christ at the center, we know there is a purpose and meaning to everything we do. And God continues to direct and steer.

For three years, my wife and I live din an area of dryness. Not in terms of the natural surroundings, there was always an abundance of trees and lakes all around us. We lived across from a lake. But it was a dry period spiritually, and we struggled to develop deep relationships. Was this a segue? Did God abandon us? Not at all. The first year, we grew much closer as a couple, and we walked all over the parks for miles and miles, even in sub-zero temps. I wouldn’t change that dry season, although I’m also happy it’s over.

Has God ever given you a dry period? In those seasons, keep searching — keep looking. There is a way out, there is fruit in abundance waiting at the end. It might take a while, maybe even years. But God is faithful. The joy of the Lord is your strength. He will lead you out of the calamity and into peace.