What God Has Done
I encourage everyone who writes for this site to share something about their personal testimony so that people who visit will know something about us and we can give God glory. This post is more of an excerpt of my testimony, but all of the important parts are here.
The Word of God says that we should tell others of what God has done in our lives. “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom He has redeemed from trouble… (Psalm 107:1-2). After a man that had been possessed by a demon and had a very difficult life of suffering and pain had been healed by Jesus, he wanted to follow Him on His journey. Jesus, however, would not allow him, but instead said to him, “‘Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.’ And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled” (Mark 5:19-20). Scripture teaches all over that God saves people so they will give Him glory and make others worshippers of God. And with such a great miracle taking place, who wouldn’t want to talk about it?
Even though I had learned about some of what the Bible says, I was not raised in a Christian home. My mother only had us in church because she thought it was the right thing to do, and she never really talked about the Bible at any point when we weren’t at church. My father never really cared for church and was not a biblical father-figure. There were no strong godly influences in my life growing up. Still, through some church attendance I learned some things about the Bible. My family went from church to church trying to find one that my mom agreed with and through that I was able to get some biblical truth that God used later in my life. But there was no genuine belief in the God of the Bible.
The events that caused me to eventually search for what the Bible says and led me to be saved came when I was a teenager. I was 17 years old when I was saved, but the years leading up to that were characterized by sin leading to more sin. I never did drugs, never got into fights, and for the most part I was an obedient child to my parents. But I was incredibly angry for most of my life. I was lonely and bitter, and I didn’t talk about it with anyone. My family was never really too close, and we didn’t share feelings or difficulty. In fact, we were far more likely to cover it up. But the loneliness and bitterness and anger were evident in my view of people and the world in general, and in how I treated them. Nearly everything I thought about was centered on how lonely I was, and the resentment and fear that came from it. I even had some passing thoughts of suicide. And while I never took drugs or really did anything that was openly and outwardly rebellious, I did try to satisfy and comfort myself and have a sense of control and pleasure by regularly viewing pornography.
The critical point, I think, was my parent’s divorce. With everything that goes on in a divorce and my family life seeming to be unbearable, I wanted to go to church. I had always believed in a God, I felt as though I exhausted all of my other options for trying to fix things, and any time that could be spent away from my house was welcome. I decided to go to a church that we had visited when I was younger.
Going to church, I met people that were very different than people I had previously met. I met people that had lost spouses and were living with incurable medical conditions yet seemed to have great joy in spite of it. I met people that, even though they sometimes disagreed and argued, would reconcile and still love each other (something I had not seen in my family). I met people that didn’t pretend to like someone but then talk bad about them behind their back and gossip (something else I hadn’t seen in my family). I met people that shared the gospel with me. I was hard-hearted and resistant at first, but the evidence that something was different about these people was undeniable. In some ways I had believed in a type of prosperity Christianity and thought that if God loves you then He wouldn’t allow things like what had happened to these people to happen. But they still loved and served God with joy and hope. They were different.
The gospel was shared many times with me, but I remained resistant to it. I knew that there was a man named Jesus that died on a cross to save me from my sin. I knew that there was an everlasting hell for anyone who didn’t accept Him as Savior. I even struggled internally, wanting to believe these things, but never seemed to actually accept them. I couldn’t see how my sins being paid for would solve any problems that I was having. What does hell or this man named Jesus have to do with my family and personal problems?
I remember one time a video was played at a church event. The video was saying how everybody worships something. It told how people worship fame, money, position, sex, among other things. As I watched it I began to get a little surprised. I had never really thought about worshippingthose things, or even that they were things that necessarily could be worshipped. And then the video started saying that all things were created by Jesus, and for Jesus. It showed Colossians 1:16 on the screen. I still think of that video when I read that passage: “For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17). The video explained that brokenness was the result of not worshipping Jesus like were created to do.
At that moment something made sense in my head. It made sense that, if I was created to worship Jesus, then life would not work right if I were worshipping something else. I realized that I had not just been someone who was struggling with loneliness or hurt, but that I was worshipping loneliness and many other things. I realized that they had taken God’s place as the Person that was supposed to be worshipped. I thought of my life situation as brokenness resulting from sin instead of unfortunate circumstances that I was unfairly made to suffer through. The problem was not my family or anything that had happened, but it was my sinful rejection of God. If Jesus wasn’t at the center, everything else in life would be where it wasn’t supposed to be.
I prayed that night, though I can’t remember exactly how I prayed. I do know that my broken life in relation to God and the gospel made more sense than it ever had before, and I believed that Jesus had come to die so I could have a relationship with Him in a way that I had not believed before.
I know that I am saved. I know that, not because I have a good depth of theological understanding, or because I can quote various Scriptures, or because I have actively served in my church, or because I have a good moral understanding, or anything else inherent about me or what I have done. I know that I am saved because the fruit that Jesus Christ promises to produce in the life of those who follow Him is being produced. The reason God transforms people and conforms them to Christ’s image is because it gives Him glory. Jesus said, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8).