“And you were left behind…” – a line of a song that I could never forget. I saw the film, “Left Behind” (2000) and even tried to read the book many years ago. I was so afraid of the rapture and the devil’s number which led me to my very first time of intentionally surrendering my life to God. Yes, I wanted Jesus to be my Lord and Savior because of fear of the end times.
From Catholic, our family started attending fellowship services with born-again Christians some 20 years ago. But my spiritual growth did not happen at once. Even when I already accepted Christ as my personal Lord and Savior, I still had doubts if my life after this one here on earth would be in heaven. I was still confused about good works or if there were ways to kind of earn my way up to heaven’s gates. And so unfortunately – when I went to college and still kept on attending church services, joined a small group, let myself be discipled, started to disciple and lead my own small group – I slid back. I quit meeting with my mentors and younger believers.
For a time, my leaders persistently looked for me and encouraged me to keep on honoring God through discipleship. My guess was God made them focus on those ones who were newly born-again so the supposedly mature born-again Christians who slid back (like me) would learn their lessons. And to summarize the hurtful consequences of years of being a “lukewarm” believer… I wasted a lot of time and energy on the wrong things and relationships. I continuously rejected Jesus’ call for a pure, blameless, honorable, and praiseworthy way of life.
Because of my failures in my spiritual life, I felt that I did not appreciate and love Jesus the way that I should. Even when I already underwent water baptism and baptism in the Spirit, months after that weekend, I turned out to be an unfit “soil” (Mark 4:1-20) for God’s truth did not remain planted in me. Then, God made me realize that my shaky walk with Christ was due to wrong foundations.
The fear of end times should not be the reason why I wanted Jesus to be my Savior and Lord and fear is not even from God (2 Timothy 1:7). Psalm 27:1 says God is our light and our salvation, so there’s really nothing to be scared of. And if I should have any fear in me, that should be the holy fear of the Lord as it is the beginning of wisdom and understanding follows from knowing Him (Proverbs 9:10). It is extremely important to know Him to understand how much He loves us. Getting even just a glimpse of how much we truly mean to Him is freedom from fear (1 John 4:18).
I was inspired to share my story because of the things that are happening all around the world now. But God’s love is what I want to share. God’s generosity and loving kindness in giving new beginnings is what I want to testify about.
God did not give up on me. He did not give up encouraging my mother to pray for me. I might have lost connection with my discipler, but God made my mother take that place. God continuously surrounds me with relatives who serve at our church. Our family continues to hear the Word of God and through it, God nourishes my faith (Romans 10:17). And let me tell you this: it really helps big time when we read His Word, the Bible. It was made clear to me that I have been saved by His grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). I have been saved through believing and confessing that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9-10). And there is nothing more to be done because our God was the One to make a way for us to be reconciled to Him! That is how much He loves us (John 3:16-17)!
When I was in my mid twenties, I thought that I would grow old alone without a family to call my own because of some poor decisions (and my drama queen tendencies). But through all those years, God continued to shower me with His love… even during those times I thought I did not deserve any good thing from Him because of some lordship issues. To give you a hint, I had a colleague who said, “Christian ka pala?” She said that because I was kind of a bully in the office. I put people with curvy body down. I was disrespectful toward security personnel and housekeeping staff. I was impatient with anybody who made me repeat whatever I said. I was arrogant and looked down on the younger millenials because I could not understand their work ethics. And so on and so forth.
But you know why I can really testify that He is generous with giving new beginnings? There came a time I wholeheartedly gave up my ways for His will for my life. I told Him, “Lord, You are so good to me. I know that You are changing me through the way I think and act and that You will not give up until I live my life according to your purposes. Your will and not mine.” And I thought that even if I had to break up my with my then boyfriend, Eric, I would do it as proof that I surrender or submit EVERYTHING to Him. I was really ready to let go but God had in mind a different plan. It is true that He works everything for the good of those who love Him, for the ones who are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). Before I turned 30, He gave me Eric to be my husband and our son, Zach! HE IS GOOOOOD!!!!
Thanks for reading my testimony. It really means a lot to me that I get to share this. I know my write-up is a bit incoherent and my sentences, unnecessary long, but this is me. I’m still a work in progress just like my writing skills. I know now that God let me kind of wander before so I could somehow be of help to some people who are going through what I already went through – wrong foundations and lordship issues. So, if you are reading this and can relate, please pray this prayer with me…
Father God, we thank and praise You for who You are. You are magnificent and merciful. You are wonderful and we don’t deserve You but You love us anyway. You are faithful. You keep your promises. Your good plans for us prevail even if sometimes we didn’t choose your way. You keep on bringing us back into your embrace. Oh, Lord, You are good!
Father, we are tired… so tired of running away from You. Please make us stop choosing the wrong things. Please help us acknowledge You in all we do. Please give us spiritual growth. We don’t want to be lukewarm anymore. We want to fully surrender every aspect of our lives to your lordship. We want our actions, our thoughts, the words that we say reflect the fact that we are your children. You say we are righteous and holy and that’s what we believe to be true. Help us truly repent and proclaim daily that our old selfish, sinful selves are gone. Help us read the Bible everyday and really seek You and your will and remain soaked in your presence. You are our everything.
One last thing, Lord, if we still have incorrect ideas on salvation or reconciliation to You, reveal it to us, Lord. We hold on to your truth. We need you so much!
In Jesus’ name, we ask all these. AMEN!