Last night as I was driving home from work I was thinking about my testimony. I have heard some beautiful and inspiring stories about how the Lord has worked in peoples lives to draw them closer to him. I want to be transparent with this. I don’t want to make myself sound better or worse than I really was. Let me start out the same way all our testimonies should start…
Amazing Grace, How Sweet The Sound,
That Saved A Wretch, Like Me.
I Once Was Lost,
But Now, I’m Found.
I was raised in a Godly home, attending a Godly church. As a child, I remember weeping on my pillow. Lamenting all the children that were not privileged to be born into such a way. I had a great thankfulness for my upbringing.
Once I became a teenager, peer pressure and worldly friendships contributed to my falling into some bad habits. I began smoking and cursing to fit in. When I was 16 my mother found out about my habits and confronted me. She spoke to me of the opportunity I had to serve Jesus. I was convicted by this and I truly wanted a relationship with the Lord. I began to pray and fast about coming to him. I received confirmation that the Lord had heard my prayers and was pleased in me seeking him. A month later I felt a calling in my heart and stepped out to follow Jesus and was baptized for the remission of sins.
The problem was, I didn’t really know how to follow him. The preacher that baptized me assumed that I understood the cost of discipleship as Jesus defined it in Luke 14.
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. Luke 14;26-35
I feel as if I became a seed planted on stony ground. I did not have enough root to stand when trials and temptations came my way. I began to dabble in sins, that grew into worse sins… I was drawn away of my own lust and enticed more than I ever had been before. I sought anything to try and be good enough to overcome. I would cry, and try, and fight, only to fall again. I was addicted to dirty images, and the things that go with it. I was scared of going to hell, but it wasn’t enough to keep me from looking at garbage.
I began finding strength to overcome temptation while I was dating my wife. After we got married I was able to draw on the love I had for her to give me strength. When I was tempted I felt so ashamed and thought it was because I didn’t love her enough. I failed to realize it was because I had not fully committed my heart and life to the Lord. Nevertheless, I did find strength to overcome through my love for her. Trials we went through also drew us closer together.
I feel like I became very self-righteous in many ways. I began to think of myself much more highly than I should of. “let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” I feel like God was calling me into the ministry, I just didn’t understand his voice clearly. I began to labor at my church, preaching and teaching. I was very prideful of myself and my message. I really enjoyed the praise of men. How arrogant I was…
Last year My family went through several large trials. I left a good paying job so I could dedicate more time to “my” ministry (It wasn’t God’s as much as it was my ministry.)
I felt strongly that God was leading us to move to California. We began selling much of what we had, and purchased plane tickets to go out there and look for work and a house. Right before our plane left we had a serious family illness that kept us from making our flight… Everything I tried fell through, it really shook my faith.
I had started working with a brother in our church doing plumbing and wound up seriously injuring my back, and was not able to work at all for 3-4 weeks.
The home we were in was infected with black mold. If God hadn’t shown us, I am afraid of how it would have impacted our baby girls health… It was a very trying time. I began to sink into depression and anger. I was angry at God. I allowed a vast amount of doubt to enter my heart.
It took God breaking me, chastising me, and bringing me to my knees in desperation to bring me closer to him. I became friends with a Calvinist earlier this year that challenged me on many of my previous beliefs. At first I was extremely angry and thought he was a total heretic. I don’t consider myself completely Calvinist today, but that encounter forever changed my view of God, and his supremacy!
I began to study the word more. I sought the Lord like I never had before. I began to realize how confused and self righteous I had been…
I had greatly downplayed the sovereignty of God, I was self righteous, and prideful…
I began to understand regeneration, becoming a new creature in Christ. God’s Grace, The depth of faith, and Christ’s work for us. How that he came to free us from the bondage of our sins. How he purchased us, washed us, and redeemed us!
Since then he has been doing a work in my life. I still have the flesh to deal with, Paul said, “I die daily.” Don’t deceive yourselves into thinking that once you believe, all your temptations vanish. But, you will not be in bondage to them. If you are being drawn away of your own lusts and enticed, and falling into sin. I encourage you to bring your heart before the Lord, find out what it is that you are holding back from him, and give it up! If your eye offend you, pluck it out. Take his yoke upon you and learn of him for he is meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
He died to free us from the bondage of sins. “How can we who are dead to sin live any longer therein?” Don’t depend on your own strength. Give God the glory in your victory over the flesh. If you do not, you might have to learn the hard way. (Chastisement)
I pray that God continues to work in my life. I desire to be closer to Him daily. I know how weak I am of myself. I am thankful for His care and long-suffering with me.
Praise God for his mercies!