Tuesday, August 1, 2006

My Testimony
The Story of My Life and the Mercy of God

I was raised by Christian parents, and knew about the Bible and Jesus from an early age. But just like the Bible says , "Surely I was sinful from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me." As I grew up, the sinfulness of my heart began to show itself in anger, hatred, and fear. I hated my brother so much that I would not be near him.

At children's ministry events at our church, I would go in the side room with those who wanted to be saved and the lady would pray with us, but I did not understand what was happening.
One time I prayed along. I wondered if I was saved. I began to believe that if you pray a prayer - and "really mean it" - you will be saved. In fearful moments, I would try to pray a good prayer of salvation, in case I might die suddenly. I didn't realize that this was a way of trying to earn salvation. As I grew older, I only became more self-centered and fearful.

When I was ten, our family went to Guyana as missionaries. Being in a foreign country only increased my fears, but I kept them inside. While my parents ministered in Guyana for our first term, I didn't care about missions. For me, life in Guyana was hanging out with my friends. My MK friends and I despised "girliness" as weakness. I started to wear unfeminine clothes. I did foolish things. I was moody and self-centered. I disliked my family and secretly thought I was better than them.

One Sunday, at church in Guyana, I wasn't paying attention to the service and thought it would be a good time to make sure of my salvation, so I mentally prayed the best prayer I could think of to a God I didn't know or love, trying to concentrate and "really mean it". Then I wrote the date in my Bible so I could look at it next time I doubted my salvation. I tried to read my Bible and pray every day. It made me feel like a good Christian. My parents thought I should be baptized, so I complied. I wrote out my testimony, thinking that I was saved by my prayer, and was baptized.

After four years in Guyana, we returned to the states for one year of home ministry. I remember during this time, beginning to feel convicted about my hatred toward my brother, feeling guilty about different areas of my life - but at the same time enjoying the simple pleasures of life in America. I went to youth group, would discuss "spiritual things" with my friends and felt quite mature, but never considered that my relationship with God was not one of faith and love, but one of blind groping and guilty fear.

When we returned to Guyana in 2003, my dad pastored a church plant there, and life went on. One Sunday afternoon, the familiar, but horrible hatred and resentment began to rise up inside me. I said nothing, but felt helpless before the hatred that was flooding over my heart. In deep despair, I went to my room, and began reading my Bible in Psalm 51. "Have mercy on me O God according to your unfailing love, according to your great compassion, blot out my transgressions... " It impressed me as exactly what I needed. Then I remembered 1 John - the book that bothered me. First John said a lot about love - love that I didn't have. I found one of the passages about love in chapter 3.
"We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him." (1 John 3:14-15 NIV)
The words cut to my heart. Suddenly the foundation I had been trying to build my life on - my goodness, my spirituality – it all crumbled away. I saw that I was a murderer and deserved hell. It was terrifying, but also freeing. For years I had tried to convince myself that I was right with God, and now, the rags that I had tried to cover my sinful heart with had been stripped away. I was glad to have my ugly heart uncovered. Now I knew that everything that kept me from really trusting Christ had been taken away.I continued reading..."This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us..." (1 John 3:16 NIV) It was what I had heard all my life – but now I knew what it meant. Jesus is able and willing to save sinners like me. He loved me and died for me. What more did I need? I began to cry. I didn't have to think of the right words. There was my Savior dying on a cross. HE was my salvation. "Jesus save me" It was a very sweet thing to cast my soul on God and ask for mercy just because of Jesus. I knew that trusting in Jesus, I would not be condemned. He said, "Whoever comes to me I will never drive away," and "Whoever believes in Him will never be put to shame."
What a difference it makes to have Christ! In Him there is power to love! Yes, I have stumbled many times, but that day was the first of many times that I turned to Christ and rested in His perfect salvation. I have learned that Christians are not people who believed once, or prayed a prayer once and then try to be good. Christians are people who believe in Christ and then keep on believing in Him as their only righteousness.

God could have left me to die in my own self-righteousness, but He didn't. How great is His mercy! He gave me faith to believe on His Son Jesus Christ and be saved - because faith and salvation are not from myself, but a gift of God's grace.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them ." - Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV

~ ~ ~

God has provided salvation in Jesus Christ. I have found this Jesus and oh what a Savior He is! Then I find that part of believing this good news is taking it to others so that they can say, "How great is His mercy!". Even if it means laying down my life.

This is how we know what love is:

Jesus Christ laid down His life for us,

and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers .


Bethany said...

Praise the Lord for His work in your life! Hearing others testimonies is always so encouraging -- thank you for sharing yours! This inspires me to write mine down, maybe to post on my blog someday.

Blessings to you as you continue to shine forth His glory!

Jacob Larimer said...

Yes very good to hear of God's grace in bringing you to Christ truely! May you keep clinging alone to our Lord Jesus Christ. The rest of your blog was very encouraging as well. Like the last person who commented on your conversion testimony said, It makes me want to make one of these 'blogs' as well. Ok... so I made one. :) How do I send you a regular email on here now? Well, check out my new blog and my email address in on there if you'd like to chat with me as well. :)

Pat "the outdoor cat" Thomas said...

Thank you for that, I've had a similar struggle - though I didn't grow up as a Christian I am one now, but I know the struggle of hatred and the like. Thank you for sharing that, I look forward to your blogs, they're encouraging and i like to know how others in the body of Christ are doing. Peace.