“For I am Persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 8:38-39
It is amazing how, in looking back on my life, I realize how very sinful I really am, and that only makes the work of Christ seem more incredible.
To my knowledge, the process of my seeking God began when I was nine years old. I approached my dad and asked him when I could be baptized. All of my older siblings had been baptized at an early age, so this question arose by a small degree out of feeling left out. But when he asked me why, I told him that I wanted to go to heaven. Although I began at the wrong place, and with the wrong goal, this was the beginning of long path that the Lord would use to eventually bring to himself.
Later that night, my father took me aside and spoke to me about Christ and salvation. He did not urge me to pray the sinners prayer at that very moment, but he asked to me pray that the Lord would show me more of himself. However, that night I ask the Lord that he would save me, not so much from sin as from hell. I went to sleep feeling sure that if died that night, I would enter heaven. I didn’t really care about Christ at that point. I was thankful for him giving his life for me, but not enough to give my life to him. After that, I began trying to make my life appear more like I was a Christian. At first, I began to read my bible daily, and I tried my best act as religious as possible. It was not out of love, or even out of gratitude, I think I was trying show God how good I really was. What I didn’t realize was that he already knew, and it was me who was refusing to acknowledge how arrogant I was being towards him.
However, though my outward actions looked better, my inward assurance quickly wore off. I can clearly remember, night after night, I would beg God that I would be saved. I went through a lot of pain, because I truly began to feel that I couldn’t have heaven and not have Christ. This went on for a long while, until finally I stopped reading my bible altogether, and besides asking God to save me every once and a while, I grew indifferent to him and his word.
My father left the subject of baptism alone till I was eleven years old. He then approached me and asked me whether I would still be interested. By this time, I was beginning to believe that I wasn’t going to heaven at all. I jumped at what I saw as a chance of proving to myself that I really was a Christian.
Although the baptism never occurred, from that point on, I worked constantly trying to convince myself of my salvation. During this time, my outward attitude grew generally worse. Whenever one of my Christian friends or family corrected out of love, I grew angry because the sight of my sin disgusted me so much, and made me afraid that there was no way that I could reach heaven on my own merits. One way to show how I felt is to relate an occurrence at a Sunday night Bible study that we held. When I was asked why I was being baptized, I replied that it was because of my faith in God. Later some of the girls that were there made a small card that said: ‘congratulations, your getting baptized.’ I gave it one look and I crumbled it up and threw in the nearest trash can. My brother was reproaching me about it later, and I simply snapped that he wasn’t my dad, and he wasn’t one to instruct me in Christian behaviour.
It was about a year afterward when we first came to Christ Community Church. By that time I had again thoroughly convinced myself that I was saved, much more strongly than before. But within months the sermons, and the overall spirit of the church, began to weaken that. I remember Pastor John wanted to speak to me before my father approached him about baptism. This made me vary afraid because deep within, I had begun to doubt myself. I remember how listening to people speak of Christ was like torture to me, and I became so jealous of the real Christians I couldn’t even stand to be around them because of the shame I felt towards myself.
I soon began looking for ways to reassure myself. I read my bible. I paid attention to sermons. I read more Christian books, I listened to Christian music. But it was all in vain. However good these things might have been, my sinful heart was behind them all, and I was letting pride fuel my actions.
But the Lord, out of his great mercies, soon brought me under the greatest conviction.
He showed me that through all that had done, I had still failed to do the most important thing I could: seek him.
This conviction can be easily the hardest, and also the greatest thing I ever faced. Day after day I would throw myself on God’s mercy, and day after day the Lord would show me more of myself, and the Prideful and overall sinful heart that I had been hiding for so long. He showed me the hypocritical way I was conducting my life. He showed how I had been instead of seeking him, I was seeking heaven. How I was doing my “acts of righteousness” before myself rather than before him. The pain I felt was incomparable to anything else I can imagine. And perhaps the worst of all, he made me feel the absence of his nearness in my life, and the attachment I had with the world (hymn 698).
But through all of this, though the Lord was teaching me about my own sinful nature, my pride came through. I kept telling myself that I had no reasons to doubt. I told myself that even if I wasn’t a Christian before, there could be know doubt now. I thought that since I had read more of the Bible, and I knew more theological terms, and especially since I went to a good church, and I knew good Christian people, that I couldn’t not be a Christian. But again the Lord showed how I had placed my hope in the wrong places, because I was to unwilling to seek him. It all made despair in the end, and I felt I would never have a real relationship with Christ.
But God, in his mercy, gave me hope when I had no hope of my own left. While I was still under conviction, he began to reveal him self to me through his word, through sermons, and through those around me who already knew him. I was being continually encouraged by the faith and testimony of other believers, who had been travelling the same journey I was. The God I had been pretending to love for so long was drawing me to himself when I found it hard to love anything, and couldn’t even hold myself together. Slowly, the sorrow that had lasted through my darkest night was turning into a morning of joy. The Lord was still showing me my own inward self, but I now had hope in his mercy that I was finally able to see, through the barriers of pride and arrogance that had so long held me. And now when I saw myself, instead burrowing into the sinking sand to hide, I could run to the rock that I could stand on.
I saw in Christ the peace that I had been seeking. Even more so, when Christ revealed himself to me, I saw in his mercy a place of refuge. Everything that I had relied on, the goodness I thought I had, the religious sort of emotions that I sometimes had, had been taken away, and I had nowhere else to turn other than Christ. The Lord gave me peace, and I found in him something more reliable than the things I had be chasing after to this point. Though now I see Christ more fully, the thing that seemed most beautiful in Christ was the hope that he gave, after all others hopes in myself had gone. My hope in myself had died at the sight of my shortcomings, but the hope in Christ was the hope in one who would look past shortcomings.
The Lord did not stop there. He brought me through a period when I could greatly grow spiritually, through books like “The True Christians Love”, “God’s Abundant Life”, and “Attributes of God”. He showed me how to live unto him through his word and through people in my life like Mr. Lanny, Mr. Roberts, and last but not least, my father. He was continually showing me his goodness and mercy in the most incredible ways, and in contrast to the former ways I would pray to him, day after day I felt in overwhelming sense of gratitude to for the work he had done and was still doing in my life. And though I was put through hard times spiritually, the Lord never left me alone, and I felt a calm submission to his will that was utterly new to me. I traded my dying assurance for his blessed assurance. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are past away; behold all things are become new.” 2 Cor. 5:17
I have come to love Christ for who he is and what he has done for me, and I have rededicated my life to his glory and the advancement of his kingdom on earth. My prayers are firstly that all who see this testimony would be have an overwhelming sense of the goodness of God, and they would make it their goal to seek Christ diligently, and secondly that not only my testimony but my entire life would be a shining light in a dark world, and Christ would be brought glory through all that I do.
I am extremely grateful to my saviour, and I am also thankful the people he has used in my life. For the older Christians, for being a constant example to me, and to the younger ones, to whom it is so easy to speak about the Lord with.
As I now look over my life, I cannot but thank the Lord for those periods, both good and bad, that he has used to teach me, and the grace he has now given so that I might except his teaching with love and adoration for who he is.
In the beginning, I quoted from Romans eight. This has become my favourite passage, and in closing, I would like to do so again:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?; As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for slaughter; Nay in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us; For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come; Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 8:35-39.