by | May 13, 2020 | Our Stories

"I've always wanted a deep relationship with God."

That’s the desire of Riley Martens, one that’s probably shared by many Christians, along with that familiar gnawing feeling that God is distant, cold and hard to reach.

Until a few months ago.

Riley says at that time he was tired of being complacent. Tired of going through the motions and praying to a God that felt a million miles away. And the stakes were high. There were people relying on him for spiritual guidance; his wife, one-year-old son, and the group of teenage boys that he mentored every week as a senior youth leader.

But one of things holding him back, he says, was he was holding out on God. He still clung, like many of us, to the idea that this was *his* life. Hobbies like working on his car, was a part of his life he didn’t want to give up.

At the end of his rope, Riley says he came to the conclusion that to have the relationship with God he desired, and to be the husband and father he wanted to be, something had to break. And that something was himself.

One night, listening to the song, ‘There Was Jesus’ he decided for the first time to give his Savior 100 percent; nothing held back. He turned the music off. He didn’t speak, but only listened for God’s response.

“Suddenly I felt peace, like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I realized… it wasn’t my job to make God feel closer.”

In that moment, instead of mourning the loss of what he gave up, his hobbies, his control, his desires, something radical happened.

 

 “God changed my heart; my desires were changing.”

It’d be nice to say everything has been easy since then, (it hasn’t). He says everyday requires a commitment to give your 100 percent. But when you do, he says he’s found the courage to be bold, to be real with people, honest, and transparent.

“And everyone wants these kinds of conversations,” he says.

Before, he desired to see his family grow into a deeper relationship with God, only to realize he didn’t have one himself. Now, he’s seeing exactly what he hope for his family, but only after he’d begun to model that relationship with God as a husband and father. Likewise, after leading youth for eight years he wasn’t impacting his guys the way he wanted to.

“Now we have this big group of guys being impacted by these meaningful conversations.” “Dying to yourself is difficult,” he says. “But the rewards far outweigh what you give up.”

Looking back now, he’s seen how Jesus was really the one pursuing *him* all this time. He just had to stop and turn around.

"I've always wanted a deep relationship with God."

That’s the desire of Riley Martens, one that’s probably shared by many Christians, along with that familiar gnawing feeling that God is distant, cold and hard to reach.

Until a few months ago.

Riley says at that time he was tired of being complacent. Tired of going through the motions and praying to a God that felt a million miles away. And the stakes were high. There were people relying on him for spiritual guidance; his wife, one-year-old son, and the group of teenage boys that he mentored every week as a senior youth leader.

But one of things holding him back, he says, was he was holding out on God. He still clung, like many of us, to the idea that this was *his* life. Hobbies like working on his car, was a part of his life he didn’t want to give up.

At the end of his rope, Riley says he came to the conclusion that to have the relationship with God he desired, and to be the husband and father he wanted to be, something had to break. And that something was himself.

One night, listening to the song, ‘There Was Jesus’ he decided for the first time to give his Savior 100 percent; nothing held back. He turned the music off. He didn’t speak, but only listened for God’s response.

“Suddenly I felt peace, like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I realized… it wasn’t my job to make God feel closer.”

In that moment, instead of mourning the loss of what he gave up, his hobbies, his control, his desires, something radical happened.

“God changed my heart; my desires were changing.”

It’d be nice to say everything has been easy since then, (it hasn’t). He says everyday requires a commitment to give your 100 percent. But when you do, he says he’s found the courage to be bold, to be real with people, honest, and transparent.

“And everyone wants these kinds of conversations,” he says.

Before, he desired to see his family grow into a deeper relationship with God, only to realize he didn’t have one himself. Now, he’s seeing exactly what he hope for his family, but only after he’d begun to model that relationship with God as a husband and father.

Likewise, after leading youth for eight years he wasn’t impacting his guys the way he wanted to.

“Now we have this big group of guys being impacted by these meaningful conversations.”

“Dying to yourself is difficult,” he says. “But the rewards far outweigh what you give up.”

Looking back now, he’s seen how Jesus was really the one pursuing *him* all this time.

He just had to stop and turn around.