Why hello fellow Pigs! My name is Justin Willms and this is a story all about how my life got turned-flipped upside down… just kidding! (sort of). I thought a lot about how I was going to approach this PigTale and I realized that I am product of great Grace and patience from God, so let’s start with that!
I was born into a Christian family, and something that was a big part in growing up was going to Camp Crossroads. If you don’t know what Camp Crossroads is, it is a fairly large Camp in Northern Ontario, Canada. It is a place I genuinely love! Although I have to admit, a setting like this makes it really easy for what we like to call “Spiritual highs” to happen. I am sure if you work with youth you have heard this phrase before; if not, it is basically just an experience where you feel God at a level you wouldn’t normally feel but it fades as you leave that situation. This became a normal occurrence for me every summer I went to Camp, I would get all fired up for God and then I would go home to my everyday life and just fall back into the same stuff I was doing.
At the age of 18 I half heartedly applied for the L.I.T program (Leaders in Training). I actually didn’t even submit my application in time. It was only because my father happened to see the Camp Director while walking our dog, when he urged me to submit my application despite it being passed due. So I did and for some reason I actually got accepted, at the time I was just excited to be a part of Camp for the summer. I was excited for the title of L.I.T and not so much the chance to deepen my relationship with God. I arrived at Camp and my group leader Tim had a sit down with the other members of my ‘small group” we will call it, and talked about how this summer was a great chance to be a witness of Christ and naturally I got all fired up for God. As the summer went on I was still feeling spiritually empty, and I didn’t exactly have a life altering spiritual experience, I simply went home with an amplified spiritual high and in no time I fell back into my sin and didn’t do anything to feed my faith.
At this point I was getting really into music and being in bands. Just a few years after serving at Camp I was now into the party scene and was a self proclaimed Agnostic who didn’t really know about this God thing and really couldn’t have cared less about how un-Christlike I was being. I simply had the attitude that I don’t need God to be a good person, and that the Bible is just a bunch of rules that don’t allow me to do all the fun things I enjoy doing. I was dead in my sin, and didn’t see much need for a savior. However, after I was kicked out of my own band, all of a sudden I felt like I had zero purpose. I put so much stock into what I was doing in that capacity that I didn’t realize how empty and hollow my life really was.
I still didn’t have any desire to submit to God and truly seek out his purpose in my life. I continued in a state of complacency and living a completely fruitless life. This became a problem when I still wanted to be a part of Camp Crossroads in 2010 when I applied to be on the Bridge team. I was still Agnostic when I applied for that position and I honestly didn’t feel spiritually present that entire summer. It was simply something fun to do and I still genuinely loved Camp. Looking at that now I feel as though I not only cheated myself, but I may have cheated some of the Campers and staff out of a genuine experience because my heart wasn’t where it should have been.
In 2011 I also applied for Bridge team, but I also applied for Summer Team which is the highest level of temporary Leadership at Camp. I can remember praying that God would soften my heart and reveal himself to me. At this point I was beginning to thirst for God and knew that my “me” attitude was really unfulfilling, he ended up answering my prayer by allowing me to serve a second year on Bridge team. This year was a little bit different in the sense that I was more spiritually open and willing to listen to what God was speaking in my life.
My most significant spiritual growth has been just in this last year or so, when I started to really dig into to the Bible and take being a Christian seriously. My biggest set backs were always when I felt like I had to know all the answers and be essentially a Biblical scholar to be a “true Christian”. That, in my mind, is the wrong approach to Christianity. The point in being a follower of Christ is to constantly see God work in your life. In my case I felt like I just needed to continue to learn and let God work in my life. Since I started reading the Bible on a regular basis I have seen growth in both Biblical knowledge and that “spiritual high” I felt for one week in the summer as a kid at Camp is how I feel all the time. I no longer want to be complacent in my walk with God or even in my everyday life. When you desire to live a life for Christ nothing is more freeing and fruitful than that. So this is basically how God has been working in my life and how his amazing Grace has delivered me from being spiritually dead to spiritually alive and I wouldn’t have it any other way!