I want to make one thing clear: I went to church for years before I actually became a Christian. Going to a church makes you a Christian about as much as going to a zoo makes you a giraffe. It wasn’t until I really had an encounter with my Savior and allowed Him to become the Lord of everything in my life that I became a Christian. That, my dear friends and readers, happened a few months shy of a year ago.

1. You won’t have it all together right from the beginning.
You can be saved in an instant; however, you won’t become a great theologian or Bible scholar the next. It’s okay to not have everything together. It’s okay to need help and not know what to do next; God sent the Holy Spirit—the Helper—just for that reason. God also provides you with people in your life that are more seasoned and can help you. These people are pastors, teachers, elders, and others of the like. Don’t be afraid to seek wise counsel. They were once new-found believers, too.

2. You will face persecution.
Persecution doesn’t just come to the seasoned and experienced Christians. You will have plenty of it, too. However, persecution calls for a time of rejoicing. The way I see it is this: if people are persecuting you for what you believe, then that means you’re doing something right. (Keep in mind that what you’re doing should always be in love, and receiving correction from godly leadership is not being persecuted.) If the world rejected Christ because He was different and didn’t belong, praise God when it rejects you for the same reasons. You must be on the right path.

3. You will lose friends.
Just because you have changed doesn’t mean that the friends you used to hang out with have, too. You will lose some of the friends you used to have because you are not the same person you used to be, but it’s okay. For what little you lose, God will give so much more. Our God is a God of abundance, and He won’t ever let you go lacking.

4. At times, you will find yourself not doing the things you used to enjoy and wonder when you lost that desire.
This was one I found myself wondering about on several occasions. I would see pictures of some of my old friends or classmates out drinking or even watching a movie or sharing a song that wasn’t exactly “family friendly” and called into question or even belittled the existence of God, and I would realize that I didn’t have the desire to do those things anymore even though I used to all of the time. I would also see status updates that ranted about politics, feminism, debt, and all of those other things college students are supposed to worry about, and it dawned on me that none of that mattered to me anymore. Instances like that always make me realize how different my life is now. I praise God for it because I don’t want to be the person I used to be. I don’t have to worry about debt, the condition of this world’s economy and governments, and whether or not there is more to life than death and taxes. I wouldn’t want to trade the hope, certainty, love, and faith I have now for anything. When you find yourself in these moments of seeing the stark contrast of your life now and your life then, praise God for it. A life with Christ—even a persecuted one—truly is so much better than any life without.

5. You will realize life doesn’t get easier, but it does get better.
The world will go from not knowing who you are to hating you the instant you choose to become a Christian; however, instead of drowning in the ocean of life, you will learn how to rise above the waves and walk on the water. Life doesn’t get easier, for problems don’t just go away. Problems can change, of course, but this world will always give you trouble. However, the persecutions and issues you face dim so much in comparison to the God you serve, that they don’t even have to affect your day in any way. Keep focused on God, and you’ll keep walking on the water.

6. You will lose focus more than once.
Getting Kingdom-minded can seem easy until you realize you have to stay Kingdom-minded even when someone says something you don’t like or when something doesn’t go your way.  It takes effort to stop focusing on what’s happening right in-front of you and start focusing on the God that’s all around you, but it’s not impossible. If you lose focus, don’t worry or beat yourself about it. When Peter walked on the water with Christ, he lost focus, too. When Peter looked at the waves around him rather than Christ, he began to sink, but Jesus pulled Peter up immediately. Christ will do the exact same thing for you, so never lose heart.

7. You will find that reading the Bible and praying every day is harder than you thought.
You will not be able to read the entire book of John and pray for hours on end the day after you get saved—let alone being able to do that daily. It takes effort and discipline to read and pray every day, but it is absolutely necessary and worth every minute of your time. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t pray as long as your brother or sister beside you that have been a Christian much longer than you have. You will get there. Keep working and pushing through.

8. You will realize that no matter how many times you stumble, God is always right beside you to help you.
No matter what you do, where you go, how many times you fall, or how long you stay down on the ground; God will always love you and be there for you with His arms outstretched. You are never, ever too far from God, and you can never, ever do anything that would make Him give up on you or love you any less. If you fall, allow God to pick you back up. When you get back up, keep going down the path of righteousness hand-in-hand with your Savior. You know He loves you unconditionally and more than this world ever could, so a life with Him is always worth it.

Published by Amber Oglesby