Actions Matter, Kevin Edelblute's Story
If there's one thing Kevin Edelblute wants everyone to know, it's that our actions matter. If we say we follow a holy God but then live like we don’t, that is detrimental to how the world sees not just us, but God. Young people in the church or people immature in their faith who see this—a life lived as a lie—form their opinion of God based on the actions of the people who say they love Him.
There is a marked contrast between an atheist and an agnostic. An atheist absolutely believes there is no God (or gods), while an agnostic believes that there is no way to know whether God exists (or, more temporarily, that they don’t know whether God exists). Sometimes, someone who grew up in church but never saw God working in the people who went there will embrace atheism or agnosticism because of their confusion of who God is. “If that’s who God is, someone whose people are lying hypocrites, I don’t want to follow Him,” some may say or think.
That is exactly what happened in Kevin’s life. He grew up in Ohio with a dad who worked very hard—too much, sometimes, to the point that his mom basically raised him and his younger brother. His mom took her sons to church, but that was about as far as it went. It was very compartmentalized—God gets Sunday, and every other day of the week He’s still at the church while we go on with our lives.
Even more confusing, the kids in youth group didn't live out the Word. He heard them tell youth leaders how good they were, yet saw how they lived at school and at the parties on Friday nights. He felt like he was lied to by his best friends. This made him feel isolated in youth group, and immediately got in his head. Around his junior year he began questioning whether this God guy was worth it, and by the time he got to college he was able to completely reprogram in order to “be normal” and act like everyone else. The compartmentalization made it easy to shut down that one box labeled “God,” as it had never bled into any other aspects of his life.
“Normal” meant to go to college, have a career, get a wife-house-kids-dog—the American Dream. However, he began a downward slope with drugs and, since he lived at home and commuted to school, his parents saw the change and became concerned, but Kevin didn’t really worry about it. The drugs didn’t interfere with class or work, so to him it wasn’t a problem, especially since he didn’t care about God. But he consistently didn’t want to rule Him out, either. Kevin called himself an agnostic, and when his mom questioned him about it, he responded, “God could be a cross-dressing woman for all I know, but if He’s really God I don’t think He’ll mind me questioning!” When he would have conversations with Christians, they never seemed to be able to defend their faith. He would ask questions or argue a certain point, and it would leave them flabbergasted because they only had their checklist of Bible verses to go through, not any extra. It seemed like all they cared about was marking another ‘Conversation with Agnostic: Seed Planted’ point off of their list so they could move on. They didn’t care to actually get to know him or have an intentional conversation about something other than forcing him to believe something he would not be forced into believing. If God’s people didn’t really care, obviously God didn’t care either. All of this served to solidify that, though he “left the door open for God” through agnosticism, he lived every day like an atheist. He lived as though God didn’t exist and like there were no consequences.
After college, he dove straight into the work force. Work became his life, he did all he could to rise in rank, and he became incredibly successful. But he realized one day, right after a huge day at work, that life was unfulfilling. He stepped outside and saw a vast expanse before him and saw people going on with life with a purpose, and he realized he didn’t have a purpose. Why did they have one but he didn’t? What was missing? People were gathering with their families making potato salad for the Fourth of July, and he was working. He had a job with a huge consulting firm and everything was going great, yet he was empty. What was he doing with his life? So, he prayed. It wasn’t even really a prayer, but a statement: “God, if you’re out there, help me.” He’d exhausted all other possibilities. It was selfish, and He just wanted God to have pity on him if He was even there, but the paradigm shift had started.
Shortly after, he met Kristin. Through an incredible series of mutual friends, they met at her brother’s wedding. Slowly, they became friends. They enjoyed talking, and Kristin’s faith meant that many of their conversations eventually came to the topic of God. The openness and honesty with which they spoke was a breath of fresh air for him when it came to the topic of God. No one had ever been able to defend their faith to him before, and his arguments—though fallible at best—had always won out. But now, this was a person with whom he felt he could actually carry on a conversation without feeling judged. And her beliefs actually made sense and connected with how she lived! Through these conversations, a real friendship developed, and though they were in different parts of the country, they would spend what time they could talking. She gave him a Bible which remains one of his five prized possessions to this day.
Kristin was by no means perfect, but at the end of the day her heart belonged to God, and her convictions about Him influenced Kevin in a huge way because of how evident the sanctification process was in her life—every day she grew to look more like Christ. God used their friendship to draw Kevin back to himself and reveal to him that, though God is perfect, people (even Christ’s people!) are not.
Kevin and Kristin’s friendship continued for six months, and though they said they’d never date, it was inevitable. By the time they got married, Kevin was hungry for God. They moved to Starkville in order to get plugged into the church so God could show them where they were supposed to go next. The Edelblutes did just that, and the hunger Kevin had, caused his faith to grow quickly. During this time, however, Kevin became unemployed. Since he’d put so much identity into his work, he really struggled, but through it he learned how to rely more on God every day.
A few years after moving to Starkville and involving themselves with FBC, there was a split in the church. But despite some of the hypocrisy he witnessed that reminded him of his youth group days, it did not drive him away. When he began to doubt, the Holy Spirit reminded him that “God is here, the Bible is true, the doctrine is sound, but the people are broken.” He had a firm foundation and an anchor, and God had given him a support system in Kristin.
That firm foundation remained an integral part of his life, and his reliance on God proved itself more every day as he and his young family moved to Jackson for work. It was hard to get plugged in to a church there and he felt he didn’t fit in with any jobs in Jackson. It was spiritually and emotionally hard, but God orchestrated another incredible series of events in order to lead them back to Starkville and, for the first time, Kevin comprehended how God had been at work the whole time. Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight." He now serves at Mississippi State as an Assistant Vice President and Controller Treasurer.
Now, looking back, Kevin attributes his growth in Christ to being involved in church and having a loving and godly family with Kristin. His past has taught him so much about God and majorly affected the way he lives day-to-day. By the world’s standards, rule-breaking is normal. But for who he is in Christ, even a small act of disobedience hurts integrity, which is incredibly important to God and to those watching. Being a stumbling block is something he fights against with all that is in him because of how hypocrisy affected him as a youth. He’s learned how empty being successful can be, and he uses that knowledge to work every day not to be successful in work, but to be able to defend his faith with truth—not just empty words, but a heart change—and he urges other believers to do the same. How does he do that? By staying in the Word of God and abiding in it. “Blessed is the one…whose delight is in the law of the Lord and who meditates on His law day and night,” Psalm 1:1-2.
Kevin’s story reminds us how important it is to live out our faith in all that we do. If there’s anything he would say as further encouragement to followers of Christ, it’s to “do the right thing, because people are watching. And when you fail, don’t let your sin isolate you. Be open and honest with who you are and how God has and is changing you, and be intentional and really get to know people.”
And if you’re on the fence about this God guy or are confused, don’t feel alone. Just keep thinking. Keep questioning. God has “put eternity in our hearts,” so if we keep asking honest questions, and we think with an open mind, then the answers always lead back to Him.