Bill B’s Testimony

“I grew up in our small town about 90 miles west of Chicago. My parents took me to church as a kid. As a teen, I got away from church as fast as I could. I got really turned off by what seemed like a lot of hypocrisy, judgmentalism, and a ‘check your brain at the door’ mentality. I didn’t want to be anywhere near it for a lot of years. I ran away from church, but more importantly, I ran away from God too. I assumed that they were one and the same.

Since I also grew up on a farm, my parents stubbornly insisted that I possess a strong work ethic. On a farm, things need to be done today. If you are there, you just have to do it and you keep doing it until it is done. It seems to me that a lot of people get indoctrinated with a hard work ethic from their family. We often carry it on when we grow up and get into our careers. Certainly, a hard work ethic is a fine personal value to possess, but it can also get the best of us when we misapply it.

For years, I was so driven, chasing my career, working 60-80 hour a week. I was doing some cool stuff with technology, but I wasn’t thinking at all about where I was racing. I was trying hard to achieve and advance. Then, a decade into it all, I began to evaluate my life and face down my obsessive drivenness and the inner dissatisfaction that I couldn’t shake. I had been all about trying harder, working longer, but I was no closer to being at peace with myself. Then, a friend invited my wife, Susie and I to come with them to Bloomingdale Church one Sunday.

We visited and even came back hit and miss for a year or so. Even though we didn’t know if we really believed what was being said, we liked what we were learning. The Bible was related so practically to our everyday life. I also began to understand Jesus’ teaching on finding peace and hope. Still, I reasoned to myself, I know how to work hard and I can balance out the shortfalls in my life with more good behavior. I can work my way to heaven, if there is one. I figured God would have to let me in, since He must grade on the curve anyway. I felt I had worked hard at being good. But I asked myself, ‘How good do you have to be?’ ‘How hard do you have to work?’ ‘Whose standard are you using?’

Through my many questions, my search finally landed with the simple insight that when Christ said ‘It is finished’ on the cross, He had completed the way for me to have forgiveness with God and contentment with myself. He had paid for my sins. There was no way I could work hard enough to pay for them. That would be an endless and futile effort. Finally, I found real peace in my life and in my soul through trusting what Jesus did, and finished. These days my life continues to be a work in progress, but I am so grateful that I now see the big picture and resolution for my inner struggle. Jesus paid the price for my sin. I could never work hard enough to do that.”