While it can be said in many Christian circles that I “accepted Christ into my life” at a young age, genuine understanding and real transformation did not occur until my late teenage years. My lifestyle throughout middleschool and highschool was not one that reflected Christ – I was an abusive, scornful individual that was filled with desires for all sorts of things: money, good jobs, relationships, approval, and performance in sports and academics. Although I would refer to myself as a “Christian”, I was not focused on my faith, and my relationship with God was certainly not my ultimate priority and purpose in life. My mind and character was riddled with pride, pornography, envy, and malice in some cases. While it may sound like an awful lifestyle – and it was – these were all natural products of a life that was enslaved to sin.

It wasn’t until graduating from high school and working my way into college that I truly began to realize the path that my life was on and the implications of my actions. Then, on a fall day in 2010, one of my friends and co-workers of three years committed suicide right at the beginning of my college career. It rocked my world. Someone that I had known so closely, that was so near to me in age and friendship, is now dead. He was only two years older than me, and now he is gone – “What did his life amount to?” This thought ran through my mind for what seemed like every moment of every day.

The biggest impact of this event in my life was the culmination, from his suicide and other life events, that I did not want to waste my life – especially because I did not know, and still do not know, how much of it I have left. This led me to begin searching for some significance in life – something that I could anchor myself in that would provide lasting meaning and purpose. On every occasion that I searched for purpose and meaning, even without realizing it sometimes, the answer always came back to this guy named Jesus who lived thousands of years ago. Furthermore, I was led to see that life was completely meaningless and purposeless without something eternal, and that that thing of lasting significance had to be rooted completely in the person and God of Jesus Christ. No religion, philosophy, or belief that I studied could compare to what He offered and how he offered it. It was the only logical and meaningful conclusion. 

While I still had doubts, and some that remain with me today, that was when I chose to put my faith, hope, and trust in Jesus to get me through. I prayed to God, asking Him to forgive me and change my life in order that I might live with meaning and purpose – something that I knew only He could offer. 

Even within a week, my life began to change dramatically! With a new-found realization of the importance of a relationship with God, my perspectives, actions, beliefs, and values all began to change in accordance with this new-found sense of worth and purpose in Jesus Christ. It was a radical change from someone that had been formerly focused on achieving what the world sees as success and a “good life.” Dedicating my life to Christ involved surrendering and becoming dependent on Him to get me through the good and the bad times. It was a point at which I chose to believe that God has a plan for my life and will use me in unique and powerful ways. The realization of God as a Savior that loves me and cares for my life, was and is the single most influential thing that has entered my life! Relationships that I thought had been completely lost and ruined, even with those who were once closest to me, were restored by the power of God! Reconciliation that I had never thought possible, with my mother and sister, happened in an incredible and magnificent way! Sinful patterns, such as lust, pride, seeking popularity, selfish actions, and abusive behavior, were completely eliminated or cut down.  (This may all sound great, and it’s true, I’m not making it up!)

Before I knew it, I went from being an apathetic, self-centered “Christian”, into a passionate Christ-follower. To this day, I continue to seek the Lord with all of my heart and I realize that He is what gives my life meaning and purpose. While life is far from perfect, and actually much more challenging and difficult than before, I know that I can achieve great things and have everlasting life through my faith in Christ.

I have reached a point in which there is no turning back. No longer can I ever go back to my old lifestyle of sin and selfishness… I have felt and seen a true transformation of heart and mind – God has made me a new creation; a new person!

1 response to "AJ Heil's Story: A Life Transformed"

  1. AJ, yours is a wonderful story of God's matchless grace!!! Since I have also experienced the incredible power of God to heal and change me and restore precious relationships, I have no trouble believing and embracing your testimony. The more time we spend with Him and His Word, the more changes we see. (Not to mention answered prayers!!!)
    He will continue to help us work out all that salvation through faith in Christ means for us as well as prepare us for all that lies ahead. It is such a blessing to have all strongholds removed from our lives. God longs for us to be completely free from sin and its power in order to live a rich and full life.

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