The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

My Salvation Testimony

I was adopted at age 4 out of a bad situation. I went to my adoptive parents with a terror of men, chronic nightmares about the devil and violence, and emotional issues.

My new mother was a teacher in a Christian school. She made sure I had a good educational foundation and she invested time and love in me. I still remember her reading the Proverbs to me when I was very little.  I didn’t understand all the words, but I was drawn to them. When I had nightmares as a child, I would turn on my light and read the Bible. Something about the wonderful Word of God comforted me.  I owe much to my mother.

My parents took me to church several times a week. I learned about Jesus in a time when an 80 yr.-old Sunday School teacher could easily control 20 small children all by herself.  I remember the little painted wooden chairs we sat on, and Mrs. Hahn’s white hair and wrinkled face, and how she illustrated Bible stories by sticking felt people to a felt board. I easily believed everything I learned of Jesus, but…

Unfortunately my father had issues of his own, and my rejection of him didn’t help. Our relationship started badly, and by the time I was a teenager, I hated him. He was very religious, but he was also physically abusive. I despised him for his hypocrisy and resented my mother for being so submissive to him. I began to rebel against God as a teen attending a Christian school. Most of the other students seemed to be Christians in name only just like me. Amazingly, though, I had a best friend–a pastor’s daughter–who seemed to have a true heart for God. I admired her and wanted to be like her, but I just couldn’t. My own heart was darkened. Jesus had failed me (so I thought). I knew He existed & died for my sins, but I declared to my mother at 17 years old, that I had

***no intention of letting Jesus tell me what to do.***

I was angry and bitter. I was sure I could make myself happy once I got to make choices for myself. I thought Jesus was my Savior even if I didn’t listen to Him, because this is a message I had heard.  It was a comforting lie, very easy to embrace.

I began dating my husband when I was 16 and he was 17.  We lived in sexual sin and more guilt piled onto the burden I already carried. Even before I married my husband, I was weighed down with shame that I tried to blame on everyone else. It was my parents’ fault, my boyfriend’s fault–it was never my fault. And though I was calling all the shots in my life now, I still wasn’t happy.

After marriage, our lack of a real foundation in Christ caused our relationship to suffer. I was sure my husband didn’t love me because he didn’t worship me the way I thought a husband should. I didn’t realize a wife was to be a helper for her husband, not a god to be worshiped! I really had no idea what a marriage should look like. In my mind, my mother had been a doormat, and I had no intention of being so. I tried to control everything and was chronically depressed because of my false expectations and selfishness.  My frustrated husband withdrew from me and spent more time at work.  Still searching for that elusive happiness, I decided that having children must be the magic “fix” for my sorrows.

At 20 years of age, I had my first baby, and a second baby followed a year after. It didn’t take long for this self-centered girl to realize that having children was not the best way to keep life revolving around ME! My little children needed me so much, and they forced me to look outside of myself and focus on the needs of others (God is so wise!) I did my best to do this, but I secretly resented it and felt sorry for myself.

I then decided that a career must be the thing that would make me happy, and I handed my kids over to a babysitter and went to work. Problems got even worse at an alarming rate. My friends were all bad (birds of a feather flock together!) Men flirted with me, inflating my ego and increasing my resentment of my husband. Women listened to my complaints and told me,

You don’t deserve that. You deserve to be happy. Follow your heart.

***I had no idea how satan was setting me up through the evil counsel of evil friends to my evil heart.***

I began to entertain wicked, adulterous thoughts–always justifying myself with the lie that I was the victim, and thinking I was hurting no one.

My thought life led to grievously wicked actions that only brought me into more bondage. But as I got more disillusioned, Jesus began to show me that the wages of my sin would only ever be death.

Because I returned to work in a medical facility so soon after my 3rd baby was born, she got very sick and nearly died. She was in the ICU with half a lung functioning, and a nurse told me if she didn’t turn around soon, her heart would stop. This thought terrified me. Completely selfish, I couldn’t see how *I* could handle losing a baby. It wasn’t fair. A relative  urged me to read the Bible, which made me even more angry. Why was he talking to me about God when my baby was dying! He said Jaime would go to heaven;  it was ME he was worried about. I was frustrated and angry at God, but in desperation I promised God that if He would heal my baby, I would start living right. He healed my baby and I forgot my promise. After all, this was about ME, not HIM.  I was the victim.  I treated God like He was one of many gods in my life. I would pull Him out and pray when I was in distress, but otherwise I preferred Him to leave me alone.

I must leave the details of my bondage to sin out, as they will edify no one. But suffice it to say I did things that broke my husband’s heart and endangered my family. And all this time I thought I was a Christian. After all, “we all sin every day,” right, and He just overlooks it all because He died on the cross?–That’s what I thought.

I sank lower in sin than I ever thought I could. And one day while I was trying to get drunk so as to dull my guilty conscience, I could not get drunk no matter how much I drank.  My mind was unbearably clear. Then I had a kind of vision of Jesus. He was looking at me–He saw what I was doing, and tears were running down His face. I cry just typing this out because it was so real. I heard Him say to my heart, “What you are doing is not what I want for you.”

The full weight of the evil I was doing hit me. I realized I was a bad person. I had never wanted to be a bad person who hurt people. Yet here I was hurting the very people I was supposed to love. Wasn’t I supposed to love my husband and children?–Yes! Why did I not seem to have the capacity to love them? And I began to pray very honestly for the first time. I asked Jesus why I was such a bad person. To my surprise, I heard Him answer me very clearly–

*** “Because you don’t listen to Me.” ***

Then I remembered my declaration that I would never let Jesus tell me what to do. The light went on suddenly!  I was a sheep GONE ASTRAY because I wouldn’t listen to Him!  It wasn’t His fault. It wasn’t everyone else’s fault either.  I was not a victim; I was the sinner. I was the rebel determined to do as I pleased. I WAS THE PROBLEM.

Not only that, I needed forgiveness so desperately. Even if I repented and followed Jesus–which I knew I must do, how could I ever get all this wickedness off my record?! I was filthy and wretched. Though I needed to do what was right, future good works couldn’t undo my dreadful past. I needed forgiveness and mercy, not only from God but from my own husband.

Suddenly the cross of Jesus Christ became the most valuable thing in the world to me. It was no longer a nice story about a selfless God who was far from me. Everything was my fault and it was breaking God’s heart, yet God was reaching for me. He wanted to forgive ME. Would I stop going my own way and cleave to Him?  The cross began to change me from a rebel to an obedient, teachable child. And it alone could atone for my many acts of rebellion.

The transformation was not easy, but very painful! Oh, how the Lord opened me up and searched me with His bright light and laid me bare before His eyes and the eyes of my husband. I heard my husband weep over my sin; it was a terrible sound that taught me how much sin hurts God and people. When I heard that sound, I remember thinking to myself, “I never want to cause this kind of pain ever again.”  Suddenly the commandments of God were all Love to me.  They were so reasonable, but I had been unreasonable. I wanted them engraved on my heart so I couldn’t–wouldn’t–forget.

Oh, how I wished I could undo all those selfish decisions, but we often can’t undo what we have already done.  I hated sin with every fiber of my being. I wasn’t a person trying to escape hell with a little prayer designed to blindfold God. I knew God wasn’t blindfolded, and I deserved hell. I wasn’t even a person trying to save her marriage. I knew I didn’t deserve marriage any more than I deserved heaven. I was willing to lose it if that is what it took to make my husband see how sorry I really was.  No more manipulation, no more control. I was a person wanting to escape sin.

Oh, God, save me from sin! Save me from my SELF! Save me from the person I have become! Oh, save me from hurting You and hurting people! Save me from bringing more suffering into this already suffering world! Save me from causing so much heartache and so many tears!  Forgive me, please!  Change me, change me, change me. I will do whatever You say. Just give me Your teaching and I will do it.

Thus I was thoroughly humbled before God. He forgave my sin and gave me a new start, a new heart. He also taught me to forgive the people who had hurt me.  My first assignment was to forgive my parents, especially my dad. I was able to cry for the abuse he suffered as a child, and I cultivated genuinely benevolent feelings for him where I used to feel only hatred.

Our family needed healing and it would take time, but the Lord spoke to my husband through a Christian. The message was, “Forgive and love your wife as Jesus loves the church.” And he courageously embraced that message despite his own confusion and pain, and made a commitment to do it no matter how much it might hurt. He is such a hero to me.

Good and bad times followed.

There were days I could hardly get off the bed because my heart was so broken, and my husband would come  home early from work to hold me and cry with me (a tender miracle in itself).

There were other days when he himself struggled as satan tried to get him to forsake his commitment, and I wondered if we would make it. I was reading my Bible and learning God’s heart, and striving to follow Him daily, but there were hard days when it seemed we couldn’t survive the past.  We began to homeschool, but I was unsure of the future and we had 3 children–I desperately wanted them to survive and thrive. And God spoke to me through Galatians 6:7-9 that I might have to reap a bad harvest for a while (I had sowed alot of bad seed), but if I would patiently continue in doing good, a good harvest would come. And so I set my heart to learn and do what is written in God’s word, and to leave the future to Him.

He has been more than faithful to teach when our hearts were yielded.  He has helped us help our children.  Our marriage is stronger today than it has ever been before. We are not plagued by bad memories; we are filled with thankfulness at the redemption of Jesus, the power of the Gospel and forgiveness, and the wisdom now at our disposal.

Since my conversion almost 14 years ago, I have often spoken out against sin, especially sin amongst professing Christians. Sometimes I am accused of acting like I’ve never sinned, or thinking I’m better than others. This is why I wrote out my testimony, including a summary of the darkness I once walked in.

You see, I do not think I am better than others. I know my past is ugly–I was ugly. I have been forgiven much.

But I recognize that many professing Christians are deceived about their state before God, as I was for many years. Many of these continue in sinful living and think their head belief in Jesus saves them, but Scripture says even the demons believe in Jesus. Obedience to Him is what they lack, and Jesus is the author of salvation only to those who obey Him (Heb. 5:9). His blood is what atones for sin (not good works), but His humble sacrifice–the good dying for the wicked–was meant to change our hearts from willful rebellion to loving obedience. We must be converted and become as little children, no longer leading ourselves but being led by our wiser Father.  We need to “come to our senses” like the prodigal son did in the pig pen, and return home humbled to faithfully serve the Father. Anything else is doing despite to the Spirit of grace and trampling the blood of Jesus under our feet.

The grace of God that brings salvation TEACHES us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world (Titus 2:11-12).  If we have not responded to the cross of Jesus Christ with godly sorrow for sin that works real repentance in us, then we need to examine ourselves to see if we are really in the faith.  Scripture says, “Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2 Tim. 2:19)  The sheep to whom Jesus gives eternal life are those who hear His voice and follow Him.  They will not follow the voice of a stranger, who tells them they can live any way they want and still have eternal life.  Jesus must be Lord, or He will not be Savior.

If there is one thing I want to give to other people, it is the awareness that they will either listen to Jesus or go the wrong way and end in destruction. There is no middle ground.  The way that seems right to us–apart from following Jesus–always ends in death.

Through the written Scriptures and the teaching of His Holy Spirit–our own conscience and the testimonies of nature bearing witness–we can know who He is & His loving and selfless character.  Through His sacrifice, we can have forgiveness and the new birth and become new creations.

***WE DON’T HAVE TO BE LIKE WE ALWAYS WERE.***

We do not have to be tossed about by the opinions of “experts” (who are often blind people leading blind people into a ditch).

We do not have to follow our own hearts into deeper and deeper bondage and confusion.

There is no life or joy or hope apart from submission to Jesus. The best that Sin and self-will can offer is a short season of sensual pleasure followed by death and destruction and misery. People in the world often sorrow about this death and misery, but they don’t sorrow with GODLY sorrow to repentance. That is the difference between the one who is sorry about sin yet continues to sin (Judas), and the one who actually repents and is born again to a new life that is empowered by God Himself to bear good fruit (Peter).

Head knowledge of Jesus, going to church or practicing religious rituals won’t save us.

We can’t manage our lives ourselves; if we do, we are walking in darkness and blind.

We can’t compare ourselves to Hitler, and impress God.

We can’t even the scale by adding some token good works to the bad.

We must completely die to our old life and be born again to a new life. In this way, we participate in the gospel, and the gospel does its work in us.  If we don’t do this, we have received the gospel in vain (I Cor. 15:2). Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. We need to be humbled and converted, and receive the mercy He offers.  We need to get on that Way, obey that Truth, and abide in Him so that His Life remains in us producing good fruit.

Do you believe? Do not believe merely as devils believe. Believe unto salvation.  How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?

All praise to the LORD Jesus Christ, who loved us and gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world. God bless you.bill and me

10 Responses to “My Salvation Testimony”

  1. John G. said

    Hard story! But praise our Lord, He never leaves us Thank you for sharing.
    God bless all of You,
    John H. Gregory

  2. Shofar said

    Wonderful testimony of God’s loving kindness and tender mercies toward us! God is so Faithful and True; God is Good! Praise the Lord! God bless you more and more and use you for His Name and Glory!

  3. Praise the Lord! HE is worthy. God bless you all. AMEN

  4. Stacy said

    Hi, just came across your site today looking for understanding to questions I have regarding Calvinism. Just read your testimony and praise the Lord for it. However, I wanted to ask if perhaps you meant to reference 1 Corinthians 15:2 instead of 15:10 in the last paragraph of your testimony. God bless you and your family.

  5. Friend said

    Good Morning,
    We just found your website via a search on Luther’s statement about ‘sin boldly’ . We saw it referenced in a David Bercot book, so we did some research. Of late, we have been very concerned about Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Piper etc. teachings and how the churches lean on them for truth. We look forward to reading your messages.

    • Thanks for reading. You have good reason to be concerned about those influences on the Church. God bless you as you continue to follow Jesus. I’m thankful for HIS light and HIS truth in this world filled with confusing voices.

  6. Beautiful testimony of true repentance and His amazing love!

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