Faith Identity

Your Faith Story and Your Manhood are Directly Connected

Faith.  I was 12 when the proverbial light bulb came on about who Jesus is; why He came and why He died and rose again. My pre-adolescent mind knew that if I didn’t repent of my sinful ways (which plagued me), the future was looking bleak. John 14:6 was the clincher for me. “Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” And so, my tender faith began. There was no one around me at that age to help me understand this new found faith. No one discipling me. No mentor. Shortly after, as I entered the fog of junior high, my faith sputtered. It didn’t totally die out, but the pressure from friends to experiment with a host of things ranging from smoking to profanity to skipping class had my faith in a tailspin. It didn’t help that my body was changing and I had all these new feelings that were fueled by lust. WOW! Tomboy Cindy who had cooties in sixth grade suddenly looked awesome in seventh grade! What happened over the summer?!

By the time I was 15, I was negotiating with my parents on how little I could go to church. I felt so duplicitous. So fake. Guilt and shame over some choices I was making tore me up inside. My faith in Jesus, although still there, felt more like it was hanging by a thread. Then, at 16, when my friend Kevin was killed, everything changed! I finally understood grace enough to figure out that salvation and repentance were rooted in Christ and his yearning desire to spend time with me. Me, confused, disobedient, scared David. Forgiveness took on a very different place in my life. Loads started coming off my conscience. I started to spend time with God in his Word, every day. At first, I may not have understood everything I was reading, but developing the consistency helped me to gradually understand more of this God who loves me and wants to live through me!  It’s an amazing exchange! No longer I, but Christ living through me! (Galatians 2:20). I wouldn’t trade it for anything! My journey through manhood is far better and lived on purpose with Christ in me. Not as a convenience, or an “in case of emergency” lifeline, like it was during those junior high years, but Christ as my life; moment by moment.

Who is Jesus to you?  Did you make some sort of faith decision as a kid?  Has your faith grown or did it sputter like mine? Or, maybe you have never considered Jesus. Moving into the warrior stage of life, you HAVE to deal with Jesus. You can bury your faith-head in the sand, live for the moment, or you can use these years to figure out who is this God of the Bible who pursues you with love. He longs for the spirit that he created in you. (James 4:5). There is a direct correlation between your willingness to yield by faith to Jesus and the kind of man you are becoming. My life verse is Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” ESV,  In fact, for this calendar year, I’ve dubbed it my pivot verse. That means I read it every day of the year, and then find other verses that associate with it. Once you’ve read the same verse a few hundred times, your thinking starts to change. His Word begins to break down walls I didn’t even realize were there; attitudes, my thought-life, relationships. There is the realization that although God has taken me a long way from when I was 12 and 15, I have much to go in my relationship with Him.

Life and time have this way of slipping past us without much fanfare. We go about our days, living for the day or the upcoming weekend. The next thing we know, we are in a totally different place, in relationships and responsibilities that we feel unprepared to handle. I recall when our first child was born. Not only did I help the nurse deliver her, but I was completely overwhelmed with becoming a dad! You might be thinking “What’s the big deal with faith? I’m enjoying my warrior years fine without Him. Later on, I’ll circle back to Him when I get a family and kids.” That’s a frequent conversation I hear with warriors. The rationale is you have about 10 years to do your own thing before you have to settle down. Singleness and one’s 20’s can be adventuresome, to which I say “enjoy”, but just realize the choices you make now will directly impact your future. Your wife and kids will be impacted by the quality of your single warrior days.  All the more reason to engage in a healthy walk with Christ now.  More manhood maturity happens when a guy drills down in a relationship with Jesus Christ, then if he lived those same years solo without Him.

If we could sit across the table and you told me your faith story, what would you say?  I’m all ears!


David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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