The gospel necessitates heart change, but Levi Shultz experienced a change in both his physical and spiritual heart that transformed his life forever.
Three years ago, God used Recovery Groups at The Village to help Levi discover the true meaning of the gospel and its role in his life after nearly a decade of pornography addiction.
Levi moved to Denton to attend UNT and began attending The Village as a necessary piece of the moralistic facade he built his entire life upon. It became clear that Christ wanted much more for Levi after he joined a Home Group and a friend began investing in his life.
“The Lord really started to reveal to me the truth of the gospel, as well as showing me to my face, this is how dark your heart is,” Levi said. “That’s when I really started to understand that I needed Him and I needed grace, and I think that’s where I really became a believer.”
Though Christ continued to develop Levi’s heart, his physical heart struggled to do its duties, one of several developmental side effects of spending the first year of his life undergoing chemotherapy, which also affected his hearing.
In 2007, Levi began taking medication for an enlarged heart that was unable to pump blood as efficiently as it should. The organ grew weaker and weaker until this year when a hospitalization meant a transplant was necessary. On April 11, 2013, he underwent the 2.5-hour procedure.
Though Christ continued to develop Levi’s heart, his physical heart struggled to do its duties.
“I can’t think of a bigger analogy to the gospel than a heart transplant. Out with the old and in with the new. It’s really spectacular. That’s part of my testimony,” Levi said. “It’s been very humbling for me. I don’t want my story to be how great a heart transplant can be. I want people to see how great God can be through that.”
All Levi has to do for a reminder of the gospel’s power is look in the mirror. His visible scar is a constant reminder of Christ’s goodness, in both the gift of salvation and in providing him a new heart to extend his life now.
“I’m still weak in my own understanding and in my own heart, but I’ve been learning a lot. The strength of the Lord is what keeps me going, even before the transplant,” Levi said. “It’s surprising how far I’d gotten with that heart condition.”
He knows his transplanted heart will eventually give out, but the heart change that God sought out and performed three years earlier was for eternity. He couldn’t do any of it on his own. Only God could.
Levi looks back now and sees himself like the broken cisterns in Jeremiah 2. The Holy Spirit had people in his life looking to fill him up, but his addiction to both pornography and being seen as a “good person” left him unable to be filled. Christ found him, fixed him, and he finds his fill now in Christ, despite the temptations still looming in his heart.
“Nothing else will fill your life as much as Jesus will. That overflowing is what people see when they talk to you and when they’re around you. They see the light of Christ pouring out of you,” Levi said. “That is my desire, that Christ would fill me so much that people would see it through the way I live my life.”