Who First Showed Joe Wittmer the Power of the Gospel?
As a thirty-year-old pastor, I was recently encouraged to look back over of my life and recall the people who helped me to see Jesus. This is been a beautiful endeavor for me to participate in, and I would commend it to anyone who has lived a Christian life for any amount of time. Who first showed you the power of the gospel?
In the book of Psalms, we see this reinforced—this idea of understanding that the Lord is good and that blessing comes from finding ourselves in him.
“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34:8).
I can think of three distinct groups of people that helped me to see that the Lord is good, and that I should take refuge in him. I hope that as I recall my own interactions with these groups, you might be encouraged to do the same in your own life.
1. My Parents
My parents are first generation Christians. My father accepted Christ in the Navy, and then shared this good news with my mom. This means that I grew up in a Christian family. From as early as I can remember, I remember seeing glimpses of the beauty of God. We enjoyed family devotional times and regular interactions in church services. We also received solid doctrine on sin and the need for forgiveness.
I still remember when it suddenly clicked. For the first time, I saw the goodness of the Lord and I desired to live for him. So, during dinner one night, I asked Christ to forgive my sins, change my life, and help me love him forever. It was the first time I recognized my need for a savior, but it wasn’t the last.
2. My pastors
There have been many pastors who have spoken into my life over the years. From David Hixson faithfully preaching the Word at a small church in Sandusky Ohio, to my youth pastor at that same church, Greg Davies—who helped me through some of my hardest high school years and challenged me to consider entering the ministry.
Perhaps the most impactful was the mentorship of my longtime friend, Don Helton. I also think of men like Peter Dodd—who I met at first church in Port Clinton, Ohio— who helped me grow as a gracious man of God who is a patient and kind leader. Each of these men had a significant role in showing me the many facets of the goodness of God. Each has helped shape the minister I am today.
3. A Countless Number of Believers
I don’t have enough time to write about all the people who have shown me the goodness of God. First and foremost, is my beautiful wife. Ashley constantly gives grace, speaks truth, and shows love to me in a way that I still can’t fully understand apart from her receiving that from a good God.
Secondly, would be my children. They have helped me continue to look more like Christ, and I wouldn’t know God as well as I do without them. The same could be said for a number of friends in my life—each of whom has loved Jesus desperately and helped me to understand that love as well. They have modeled Christlike living in the way they live, interact with others, study the Word, pray, and serve.
As I reflect over the people who have helped me see the beauty of the gospel, I’m reminded of God’s faithfulness throughout my life. From my childhood until now, he has continued to draw me nearer to him—in part by placing people in my life who will spur me on in my faith. I pray that you too might take the time to see Jesus and reflect on each of the individuals that I’ve helped you to do so over your lifetime.