By Anne Lim of Eternity News
“Nothing can harness your appreciation of grace like having rejected it for years and then realising it’s still there,” says ex-fighter Dave Jensen
Dave Jensen wakes up in the Robertson Barracks Army base one morning in 2009 with a hangover and a day to waste. He opens a laptop gifted to him by his twin sister, intending to look at pornography, but instead clicks on a YouTube clip that pops up as "recommended for you".
It is a sermon by John Piper called "Don't waste your life". His sister must have used the laptop to watch it.
Five hours and five sermons later, Dave is looking in the mirror saying, "What am I doing?" The answer is, he is doing everything he has ever wanted to do. The problem, he realises now, is that none of it means anything.
This isn't the first time Dave has heard the gospel. As a child in one of Sydney's most prominent Christian families he says he must have heard it a hundred— a million— times before.
And it wasn't that he didn't believe in God. He did. He tells Eternity News, "[Before then], if Jesus had walked into my room with holes in his hands and said 'I am Jesus Christ the Messiah, I have died for your sins, I am true and I am real, I have come back from the dead so that you might live, and follow me,' I would have said 'Jesus, thanks but no thanks. I do believe you but I want to follow myself. I want to do my own thing'."
'His own thing' was lying, partying, and having sex with girls, which resulted in an unplanned pregnancy at 20 years old, which resulted in a marriage, which resulted in a university deferral and an army sign-up.
'His own thing' was a divorce; drinking and fighting as much if not more than the army culture demands; violence and womanising, and hangover upon hangover.
"I started to get into a lot of pub fights and a lot of almost culturally acceptable casual violence," he tells Eternity. "I was the biggest womaniser and the worst part of it, looking back, was I was proud of it."
Until that morning, where he was met head-on with the purposelessness of his life and behavior.
"When I turned around and confronted what I'd done, I saw that without the love of God I was completely and utterly stuffed," Dave says.
"I was gone. Not only was my life a waste but I was going to go to hell."
He called up the army chaplain and confessed what he'd become — "a whoring, womanising piece of work". The chaplain agreed with him and advised him to pray, express genuine sorrow for his sin, and ask the Lord for forgiveness for his sins (the things he had done wrong).
"I said, 'I have prayed'," Dave recalls. "'I've asked God to become a Christian and He has never answered. How do I know He is going to answer?'
"He said, 'Well, pray until you know that He has answered'."
“Pray until you know that He has answered”That night 'Big Dave' fell asleep in tears next to his bed after having cried out to God for forgiveness. When he woke up, he said there was "no lightning, no thunder [...] but the greatest sense of being loved and forgiven. There was a genuine feeling of release that God had set me free."
After 28 years, having grown up hearing of Jesus and the Bible every day, Dave finally understood what it meant for him.
"Nothing can harness your appreciation of grace (God's undeserved love) like having rejected it for years and then realising it's still there," he says.
Dave continued to have his struggles; but he did it with a new awareness of his sin and a resolve to change, and gradually he let God show him what it meant to live with Christ as his King—_sacrifice, selflessness and putting God first.
And out of Dave's relationship with God came a sense of purpose in the form of a calling to share what God had done for him with others.
"I realised how desperately I wanted to tell people," he says. "I feel I've got to tell people about this. This is what I want to do: live with Christ as my King. Still sinning hourly but not unrepentantly, really trying hard to obey God in everything."
Dave left the army for a job as a youth minister in Parramatta where he, his second wife and their two children live.
"I discovered that ministry is what I really want to do," he says.
He has given up drinking.
"I still struggle daily, and daily I am reminded of God's grace.
"In the end it is amazing that God has used my evil and my sin from the past in order to speak to people from a similar background.
"I love God more now than I have ever before and, God willing, despite my ups and downs, that will keep growing." ?
First published in Eternity News. For good news stories visit eternitynews.com.au.