Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Matt Meyer's Testimony

The following will begin to introduce the man who will, in the near future, take over most or all of Jim Wilson's responsibilities. That is, of course, if Jim slows down enough for this monumental, completed transition to take place.

The testimony of Mr. Matt Meyer

With faithful expectation my parents of Lutheran tradition from both German and Swedish descent had me baptized in the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church shortly after my birth. This was dutifully followed by primary education in a Lutheran parochial school that my father’s parents had sacrificially assisted in its construction. My training culminated in my confirmation as a Christian and member of the Lutheran church around my twelfth birthday. But all was not well with my soul.

Shortly after moving to southern Idaho in 1968, my father divorced my mother for the second time. The first was after the birth of my oldest brother and sister the second time when I was about five, now the youngest of five. My mother started a career of minimum wage jobs to support us and I quickly became a poster child for latch key kids.

While continuing to memorize Bible verses, go to church and participate in church youth group functions, I began a slow but steady slide into spiritual apathy and indolence. A key event that hastened this process was the return of my oldest brother from four years in the Air Force. I idolized him. Unfortunately, he was cut from the same cloth as my father with a penchant for wine, women and self focus. While seeking to look, talk and act like him; I entered the rocky shoals of Jr. High and found myself a misfit from both spiritual and carnal worlds.

I was too “weak” willed to physically chase my lusts except in my mind and too “traditional” to not maintain appearances at home and church. The result was a sullen four or five years avoiding everyone, watching endless hours of television and sneaking my brother’s “adult” magazines to pass the time. While my mom continued to work long hours to maintain the house and put food on the table, I did little to help around the house or maintain the yard.

When I reached a point of self loathing in my junior year in high school, instead of confessing my sins to God, I decided to improve myself through self help books like How to Make Friends and Influence People and The Greatest Salesman etc. I signed up for speech classes, started running for class and club offices at school and even joined a pyramid marketing organization that fed its participants with ladles full of positive thinking…about oneself. The results were impressive, but not spiritually healthy.

Soon, I was president of several clubs, valedictorian and voted smartest in my senior class, with the result that the skin on my head was stretched and tight but my soul was shriveled and weak. The problem was one of hollowness. I knew that I was miserable just below the surface of my pleasant and now outgoing personality.

My spiritual turning point came when my sister, five years my senior, returned from the University of Idaho changed. Having experienced her motherly tutelage during my formative years, I can testify that she was now joyful and full of grace. Unable to hold back—some habits take time to change—she cornered me and let me know in no uncertain terms that Jesus died for me. Reminding her that I had practically been raised in the narthex of the church, I responded that this was nothing new. Still, she was persistent to make it clear that Jesus’ death was personally connected with my sins and that if I got hold of that reality, it would change me. Did she know more than she let on? I pushed her off, but her words haunted me.

About a month later around Christmas 1980, when everyone was supposed to be happy on the outside and inside, her words came to blows with the angst of my proud soul. In a fit of depression, I negotiated with God, that if He would give me joy and peace like I witnessed in my sister, I would commit to read the Bible cover to cover over the next year with the intent to really know Him.

Whether I was “saved” before this experience I don’t care to debate. What I did know was that from that moment, I was certain that God was real, gracious and that I wanted to know Him more than anything else.

I did begin daily reading of scripture, started attending Young Life and even started a Bible study at my home. But the real change began when I started at the University of Idaho that fall. The Christian community in Moscow was vibrant, where Bible teachers from a number of churches worked together offering noon studies, seminars and men’s retreats. The biggest difference was the teaching. For the first time, I heard and understood that the Bible was true and relevant. It was to be read, believed and obeyed without excuses—something the leaders called “practical Christian living.”

For the first time I learned how to confess my sins, deal with my bitterness toward my father and to resist the temptation of lust. More than this, I was blessed by a mosaic of Christians from various evangelical denominations and para-church organizations. I couldn’t get enough even though I attended six or seven Bible studies a week in addition to my engineering studies. In the months and years that followed, the teaching and leaders’ examples from these years were foundational to my Christian walk as I found my life long partner in Renae, mother to our six children, and entered into a 20 year career with an international mining company.

Thinking back over these years, the verse “God remains faithful even when we are faithless” (2 Timothy 2:13) marks well my passage to adulthood. Even though I didn’t rack up a crowd stirring testimony of physical rebellion and personal destruction, the internalization of my sin was in some ways more potent as I was able to hide, excuse or ignore it most of the time. Praise be to God, His Word was like a light shining in a dark place revealing my sin for what it was and making clear that my only option was to rest fully on His provision for my sins in the death of Jesus, God’s Son, on the cross.

Mr. Stephen David's testimony will be posted on Monday. Here's a brief excerpt:

"My only aim was to become an affluent person through whatever means. I was pursuing various illegal ways to reach my goal. "

David's testimony, in its entirety, will fill us in on the rest of the story.

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