TEEN TUESDAY #5 (ZACH)
Updated: Sep 20, 2019
What a privilege to have Zach as my guest today! The Johnson and Harkins families spent so much time together when our kids were growing up and I have loved watching Zach grow up into a kind and thoughtful young man. I think you will appreciate what he has to say, as well!
Introduce yourself! My name is Zach Johnson, and I am 24 years old. I am in my second year of teaching, currently at Anglo Singapore International School in Bangkok.
Last year, I married the girl I had dated since our 9th grade year in high school!
Please share a little of your background with us.
I am from the state of Tennessee in USA. At 4 years old I came to Thailand with my family when my dad, Mr. Bob, began working at ICS. My family and ICS were strong influences of Christianity in my life, as I was taught to view the world from a Biblical perspective throughout my upbringing. Please share a little of your spiritual journey. I accepted God’s design and plan as truth from a young age, but it did not become real to me until middle school. That is when I understood that God wants a relationship with mankind, and He is not simply asking for confession of sins. The Bible perfectly explains the human condition, beings at war within ourselves – with desires to do good and evil at the same time. God as the source of creation and ultimate ruler over it made sense to me as well. These were two major things that brought me to faith initially. God’s love and grace became real to me in high school. Much of my high school years were spent doing whatever I felt like doing, and pushing things and people away that kept me from what I wanted to do. God brought me to a breaking point during my senior year – and I finally reconciled to those I hurt and began to pursue God more and my own desires less. Of course the battle continues, and God continues to show me his love and grace in the midst of my failures. During your teen years, what were your biggest areas of vulnerability that Satan used to hurt you? My biggest area of vulnerability was selfishness – I had a really hard time seeing outside of myself (I still do). My parents were quite strict, so I treated my whole family poorly out of anger. Instead I pursued popularity, basketball, my relationship with my girlfriend, and simply spending time with friends. None of these things were bad, but in each of them my motives were often selfish, either pride or to find satisfaction. God usually came after all of these things, and I would not let him penetrate the wall I had built up between my family and myself. Doubt was another struggle for me. I constantly questioned whether God was real, what His intentions were, and if the Bible even made sense. It seemed every time that one question was answered and I was at peace, there would be more questions to pop up – and there emerged doubt once again. What has God taught you through that journey? God taught me to look outside myself, to the interests of others. He showed me how much I was hurting my family, how my actions were causing our family pain and distance. It was very humbling to come before them and admit what I had done, but from that point things began to change. I realized that I could be a vessel of God’s love and grace, and that changed my life’s purpose. I saw how empty it is to pursue my own satisfaction, and how filling it was to take on the challenges to love others the way God calls me to. My doubt carried on into college, and I continued to struggle with my beliefs about God even while pursuing Him. Eventually it became a decision about whether to remain in doubt or to trust. Faith is being confident in our beliefs, even when we cannot see them (Hebrews 11:1). I realized that I had more than enough evidence to believe in God, and no other set of beliefs made sense to me – I simply had to choose to have faith without having exactly the proof I desired. I mean after all, God showed up BIG a lot of times throughout the Bible – and many still chose not to follow Him!
There is so much more to life than happiness. The pursuit of satisfaction is futile, people have failed in every way imaginable, yet somehow we all keep falling into the trap over and over. Pursuing God is the only thing that can grant us satisfaction, because that is how He created us. He has given us purpose and meaning to life, and he has even tailor-made His own plan for each of us (Ephesians 2:10). However even if we do an excellent job fulfilling our purpose, it is still not enough – because we are all still screw-ups compared to a flawless God. Thankfully God’s got us, and will never give up on loving us no matter what we do (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is very hard to comprehend how all this is possible, but then again – He wouldn’t be that great of a god if we could comprehend everything he has done, right?