For most of my life, I believed there was some reason for my existence. Around the age of thirty-two, I was getting tired of wondering if there was a God, and if so, who He was. While staying at a friend’s house one night I was watching a Christian network and listening to the preacher as he said, ” God is real and He loved me”. Then the preacher said,” I was born in sin and needed a savior. The way to be saved from eternal damnation was by believing in the name of God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. He was slain on my behalf as the sacrificial lamb that leads to eternal life.”
After listening for a while longer and wrestling in my mind if this was a bunch of nonsense or probably just another cult trying to suck me into their fundamentalist ways- I then cried out, “God if you’re real please show me something”. I got down on my knees acknowledging that I was a sinner and invited Jesus into my heart. At that moment, I had an experience like no other. Immediately I knew it was the spirit of God that enveloped me from my head to my toes and, yes, He is real! No drug or alcohol ever gave me that kind of high. I realize that God never had to show me anything but, by his mercy, He loved me enough to fill me with His Holy Spirit.
I became a believer that night. This brought a lot of criticism from loved ones and close friends, especially the one friend whose house I stayed in. I was so happy to finally find out God was real, all I wanted to do was tell everyone about Him. I wanted all my friends and family to know about Jesus Christ. How His spirit cleansed me from all unrighteousness and how they could be saved, too. Boy! That sure didn’t go over well with any of them. They all thought I was whacked out and immediately began to harass me.
On the one hand, I received the Holy Spirit and the love of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. On the other hand, I had family and friends (that I loved) ripping me apart with their words of ridicule and disbelief. That became a very confusing time for me.
In the first two years of my new found faith, God was opening doors for me left and right. He brought people into my life who gave me jobs then finally a place of my own to live in. Wow! I was living high. Everything good started to come my way. As I grew more in God’s Word, the closer I got to Him. I began to see how much He loved me. I found a beautiful church to go to with great fellowship and many wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ. There I felt genuine love and honesty with people who really cared for me and I began developing close relations with them, too. I was then asked to join a Christian band. This was so exciting. I finally got a chance to play music and be on stage. What I always dreamed of… was happening.
I must say, though, it wasn’t always a smooth ride. Something was missing. I started to get lonely and impatient. So, I rushed into a marriage I knew wasn’t right for me… which lasted about 2 years. For quite a while it got really tough dealing with my emotions. I was filled with such guilt for letting everybody I knew down, including myself, and especially God!
After that, for a few years, I saw myself pointing fingers at the lifestyle of the “non-believers” and being very critical. It just didn’t make any sense to me why they wouldn’t believe the truth I was telling them. I also noticed as a “baby Christian” I wasn’t really sharing the love of Christ and became very defensive and perplexed when persecuted. Then I thought about what kind of witness I’d become.
I did a lot of thinking about what I was doing wrong and analyzed that I should point that finger back at myself. I needed to forgive them and stop my self-righteousness, then learn to love them through Christ’s eyes instead of judging.
After half a dozen years of walking in faith, my mind started to understand why some people I spoke to about Jesus closed their hearts to what I had been telling them. The ways of this world are contradictory to what I was learning about Christ. They could only believe things that were tangible. If you can’t touch or see it, it isn’t reality. Things of the spirit world were just a crutch to get by on when life got too difficult. This thing of “faith” was nothing more than the blind leading the blind, in their minds.
Then I started to search around and ask questions about other religions and what their beliefs were. I listened very carefully to all the different explanations of the world’s religions on who God was while watching their lifestyles. Sometimes I’d find myself thinking and wondering if all I was learning from the bible could actually be the words from God, or just what men wrote to con people into being civilized…(maybe just another cult).
After half a dozen more years, I slowly slipped back into the old person I was before I became enlightened with Christ’s love. The things I used to do and liked doing crept back into my life. I found myself struggling again and ended up with one foot in the world and one foot in God’s kingdom. It got very difficult confessing my belief in Christ and participating in the old sins I had been delivered from. What people could see of me was being very hypocritical. The weight of guilt had become such a burden that I had to get on my knees and ask God to show me what I needed to do to stop this feeling of guilt. Through more studying of the scriptures and looking at the way I was going, I just knew through certain circumstances that got me in trouble, God’s word was true. I also knew I wasn’t of this world and destined to eternity with Christ. Therefore, as long as I confessed my sins and repented, I would be forgiven.
I have walked with my Savior for over 19 years now (at the time of this writing). In all my trials and tribulations I dealt with a lot of persecution, not physical, but verbal. For instance, being ridiculed for my belief then defending it with an attitude, falling away, self-absorption, self-pity, and just about everything else a person could say about immaturity. During those times I didn’t understand how to handle situations very well. When I look back at how much discipline I was lacking in my attitude, I can see just how much wisdom I needed to grow to reach that goal of maturity. Though I’m not, by any means, where I’d like to be in maturity I am closer than I was.
Through God’s wisdom and sometimes painful discipline, I have learned the scheme of the devil’s temptations and how to overcome the sins in my life. That doesn’t mean I won’t be tempted to do things contrary to God’s word in the future, but it does mean I can be strong and say no to the tempter.
This has by no means been a hop- skip and a jump down the jolly road for me. I have stumbled and fallen many times coming up with a battered and bruised ego. But my Lord has been there every step of the way patiently guiding and teaching me his ways.
Well, that is the journey so far for this Christian. I know I have victory in Christ and will continue to overcome the devil’s fiery darts in this world until the day He takes me home. Glory be to Jesus!
Update: It’s now been 37 years…(2018 at the time of this writing) Jesus is still LORD! The world grows more divided and violent. His return is also closer than we know.