John Burke

After many years of trying to replace God’s love with every distraction that grabbed his interest, John discovered that God wanted his undivided attention and devotion.

Topics: Salvation | The Gospel

Our Creator God is jealous. He wants our undivided attention and our devotion.

John Burke eventually found this out after many years of trying to replace God’s love with every distraction that grabbed his interest.

John was born into a Catholic family in New York, and like most of his peers, he was an altar boy and attended church regularly with his family. But during that time, he felt afraid of God and didn’t see Him as someone He could approach in prayer.

John’s home life was often chaotic. His father abused alcohol, and John quickly learned that he had to take care of himself. He acted in anger and aggression toward others, and this self-crafted persona gave him a sense of security and identity.

In school, John hung out with the “misfits” – those who didn’t come from loving homes. At this point in his life, he considered himself an agnostic. “I didn’t want to think about whether God existed. I just decided he didn’t,” John said.  

Playing rock ‘n’ roll music and starting a band enabled John to take his mind off God’s existence and live how he wanted. But through the distractions of music and the lifestyle it provided, John still had questions for God.

The bitterness in his heart toward his home life wanted answers.

“How could God put a child in that situation?” he thought. When no answers presented themselves, John decided that life “was a cruel joke, and you had to make it your own way.”

John’s band became fairly popular, selling out clubs and at times playing for thousands of people. But, after the initial adrenaline thrill passed, he ended up feeling emptier than ever.

“Ultimately, the joy that rock ‘n’ roll promised never came – it failed me,” John said.

God engaged John’s curiosity and intellect through Christian people in his life.

After the music faded in his 20s, John decided to attend college. He wanted to gain as much knowledge as possible and achieve in academics. His desire succeeded, and he received many awards and honors, graduating at the top of his class.

Despite all the learning and knowledge he received, John remained extremely empty and sad inside.

Knowledge empowered him at first, but the great intellects he studied, like Plato and Nietzsche, only fulfilled a momentary happiness. The peace of mind and the lifting of his spirit was not something they could provide.

The notion of intelligence became just another disappointment.  

In the midst of all this self-discovery, God never stopped pursuing John. He allowed John to go his “way,” but He always had a plan of drawing John back to Himself.

After the letdown of music and knowledge, John pursued yet another avenue that he hoped would lead to happiness: work. He got a job in finance and investments and became intrigued by entrepreneurs and the idea of the “self-made man.”

His days were filled by long work hours and self-help literature to help him “visualize success.”

“My desperate attempts at peace, in these pursuits, failed me once again,” John said. His bitterness remained, deeply rooted.

Like many stories in the Bible of people and their ill pursuits, John repeatedly sought after any symptom of happiness he could find, ignoring the true joy that only God can extend.

When John was 41, he surmised that success in music, education and work did nothing to fulfill him. At this point, he began to delve into the spiritual. He studied meditation, Buddhism, transcendentalism – every “ism” he could find.

“I could feel there was something – a bigger purpose – but all my study and contemplation couldn’t define it, and Eastern philosophies left holes I couldn’t fill,” John said.

However, God – in His infinite mercy – drew John to Himself like He does with each and every one of His children. He began to place Christians in John’s life who carried a peace with them that John struggled to understand.

God engaged John’s curiosity and intellect through them, and it was one of these friends who gave him a copy of C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity.” The book challenged John to think about why everyone seems to long for something more in this broken world. 

“I came to understand that this longing for joy is to be close to God. Sin separated us from a living walk with the Lord long ago, and man himself cannot fix this condition.” John said. “So Jesus Christ took the burdens of sin upon Himself to save us and offer us a way back to the Father.”

John wrestled with the Lord and prayed for answers to be revealed. Once the Spirit moved in him, transforming his heart and mind, he trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior.

He surrendered his life to Christ and stopped pursuing empty distractions.

Today, John runs in full pursuit of the glory of God. Unlearning his previous way of thinking hasn’t been easy. But now realizing the powerful love of God, John has found the one truth and only knowledge that really matters to him.

“What a joy it is to know that He sent His Son so that we could be saved,” said John.