June 18, 2021

Finding Faith in the Long Run

Testimony by Alpur Vera

 A runner finds the road to salvation and never looks back. 

Hi everybody. I come before you today to tell you how I have been changed by God, not just my life, but my very being. I am by nature extremely confident in my own abilities, and my first instinct is to rely on myself in a difficult situation. Thus, in high school, I fell in love with the sport of running, in which I only had to depend on myself. If pain sought to stop me, all I had to do was try harder and overcome it. I ran for my own glory, putting all the burden on myself during failure and taking all the credit during success. I did not put very much effort into truly getting to know my teammates, because I was more focused on myself than them. The thought crossed my mind that this pursuit I was devoting most of my energy to would be pointless in the long run, for given enough time I would grow old and die and whatever glory I gained would fade away, but I pushed that thought out of my mind by just focusing even more on running. Eventually, I could not do this anymore, for I suffered a stress fracture during my senior track season of high school that left me unable to run for almost a year. To fill the void, I tried drinking, lusting after women, and finally, pornography, always trying to run away from this fear of my own mortality. I had this vague notion of there possibly being a God, but I never devoted much time to exploring that idea until the summer before college.

This was when my good friend who was a Christian and his girlfriend broke up. There are many details, but he essentially chose God over his girlfriend. That made me curious about what Christianity was and what made it so important to him.  I started going to church with my friend, absorbing enough information to have a vague idea of who God was. Then college came around, and I ended up choosing the partying lifestyle over setting aside time to pursue God. Somewhere towards the middle of my freshman year I realized the pointlessness of the way I was living. I began inconsistently attending Bible studies of the fellowship, Cru, and a nearby church called The Tribe. I was very drawn to the love shown by the Christians I met and that made me want to hang out with them more, but it took me a while longer to realize that such awesome love came from God. One verse I learned about in Bible study that especially spoke to me was Ephesians 2:8-10. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” I soon came to realize that this was referring to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for us, how God himself came down to earth as a human and paid for all our transgressions that we could be reconciled back to him eternally. Around this time, the pastor at The Tribe gave a sermon about seeking out God personally instead of solely relying on others to reach him, and so during the summer after my freshman year I began reading the Bible on my own for up to an hour a day, really wanting to know who God was and learning more and more about my own sin. As usual, my first instinct was to conquer my sin myself, but after many failures I finally surrendered myself to God to fix my brokenness, and it worked. No longer was I consumed by a desire to chase after the things of this world but instead was given a newfound focus to seek God with all my heart.

Now, in running and everything else, I focus less on the results and more on the heart with which I pursue the tasks, for the results belong to God and since he is on my side I have no reason to worry. I have been given everlasting life and been saved for all of eternity, not for something I did, but because of what Jesus did. Still there is work to be done. God is infinite, and I seek to know him as deeply as I can in my time here. Furthermore, since I am saved, I no longer need to worry about myself. Instead, I can look to others, learning about them and who they are, and helping them find God if they have not yet, which is what I will be doing on my mission trip to Ocean City, New Jersey this summer. I want to ask you guys, are you making your first priority to be something that is eternal or something that is temporary? Don’t stay on the fence about God. He died for you and is waiting for you to acknowledge that. ©

Alpur was baptized at Solano Community Church in April, 2014.

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