Paul Ginther

Youth Ministries

Setting individual goals is a great practice and when I was younger I had a life goal of my own.  It’s not like I had it written down in a diary or journal, rather it seemed to be written in every fiber of my being.  My one goal in life was simple: I wanted to have fun and live life to the fullest!  Where did these desires come from?  I wouldn’t have been able to tell you at that time, but I know it drove my life.  My goals were clear, but how to achieve them were not.

I was blessed to have had loving parents who raised me with good values and a strong work ethic, yet when it came to figuring out how to live life to the fullest: I was on my own to figure that one out.  I didn’t have any meaningful church experience or godly influences speaking into my life, so to say God was the furthest thing from my mind is an understatement.  He was not even a category and let’s be honest, even if he was what teenager would think God is the answer.  Not this one!

So in my search for fun and happiness I picked what were the two things I really loved: sports and partying.  I’m an all-in or nothing kind of guy so being true to myself, I went all out in these two areas of my life and honesty it worked!  At least for a while.  I had a lot of fun and I had a lot of success in sports, but it didn’t last.  Upon graduation almost everything changed and I felt my life was beginning to unravel.  Abruptly, half of my identity, purpose, and source of happiness was lost.

What I had left though was my party lifestyle, but this even started to turn on me.   The highs I seemed to achieve in high school weren’t so high and lows were a lot lower.  Partying started to feel like work and about every relationship in my life was falling apart.  I felt like my life was unraveling.  I didn’t like who I was, I didn’t like where I’m heading (which was nowhere), I wasn’t happy, and I certainly was not living life to the fullest.

It was my sophomore year in college when I reached the point in my life where I knew I needed help and the person I turned to was my old football coach (Dave Stratton).  I really didn’t know much about Dave other than he was a great coach who I respected and he seemed to really care about me.  Out of all the people in my life I felt he would be the one most willing to help.   So there I was, 2AM sitting in my apartment in Toledo when I gathered up all the courage I had and called Dave.  Although I probably gave Dave a heart attack calling so late, I’m so thankful he answered!

The following week Dave and I met and I did something I’ve never done before: I was honest about my struggles and emptiness.  Then Dave did something I’ve never experienced before:  He opened a Bible and shared the gospel.  The good news of Jesus Christ.  News I’ve never heard before.  Did I understand everything?  No.  Did I understand enough?  Yes!   I knew that the Lord was stirring my heart drawing me to him and I knew I was ready to put my trust in Christ and begin living for Him.  This was the beginning of my new life.

I’ve learned, after following Christ for over 20 years now, that the strong desires I had to live life to the fullest and to have fun were not wrong or bad desires in and of themselves.  In fact those desires were from God himself.  Where I went wrong was I tried to fill those desires with wrong things, small things, things that were never meant to satisfy me.  C. S. Lewis said it best in his book The Weight of Glory,

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”