I grew up always believing in God, but it took me a long time before I understood who God really is. I grew up going to Catholic church with my family as a young child. As a child I believed in Jesus and loved God but never felt good enough and never really understood what Jesus had done for me. It was all about trying to earn God’s love by performing. I honestly don’t remember when I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior. But when I was around 11 years old my family started going to a church that taught more on having a personal relationship with Jesus–which was great. But I still had a hard time grasping God’s love for me. I remember as a young teenager asking Jesus into my heart several times because I thought I had screwed up too much–which honestly, I was a pretty good kid compared to most when it came to drugs, alcohol, sex, etc. This is what religion had done to me. I was still basing God’s love more on my performance.
I had been plagued with a low self-esteem and insecurities my whole life. I hated myself. I often would compare myself with others and felt inadequate. I was what you would call a “people pleaser.” Depression would come and go and I often felt alone in the world. Even though I loved the Lord most of my life, I didn’t allow Him to love me the way He wanted to. I depended on imperfect human love instead of the perfect love of God. Only God could meet my deepest need for love and acceptance. I was afraid of failure and rejection and lived my life accordingly. I probably hid it well enough, but at home in my room I would cry out to God saying “God, where do I belong? Who am I? I don’t want to live feeling like this.” Even though I was a Christian, at times I felt just as messed up as the rest of the world. I remember saying to God, “There’s got to be more to this life. How do I grow in my relationship with you? What’s the next level?” Even though I fully believed the bible was true, I wanted to experience the reality of God and I wanted to know how the word of God applied to my every day life. I didn’t want this life to be such a struggle.
Around the same time I graduated from high school and went off to college, my sister had invited me to the church she had started going to back home and I noticed there was a difference in her. When I first heard this pastor preach (Pastor Tom Terry), I hungered for more of the word. Something lit up inside me and I remember thinking ‘Wow, there is more to the Word of God than I ever realized.’ He taught the word of God with such power and authority. He made me want to know God better than I did. I had been going to church most of my life, but I had never felt completely free of the cares and the burdens of this world. I struggled going back and forth, being tossed about by every wave of adversity. Fear had run my life and I didn’t even know it. The more I heard Pastor Tom preach, the more I began to realize who I was IN CHRIST. I began to understand the love God had for me and how the Lord wanted me to be victorious in this life, not just in the life to come (in heaven). I started learning that every part of our lives is important to God. Over time, I began to know God as my loving father, not just a God who was far away and intangible.
I also learned that Christians should be over-comers of every trial and test. Trials and tests are not meant to defeat us; they must come so that we mature in our faith. James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:12 also says, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” So even though we experience trials and tests in this life, we can and should be victorious in every situation. This does not mean that the problems or challenges we face will go away over night. That’s what perseverance is about, standing in faith as long as it takes. Getting through the problems that come our way builds character, and God is more than able help us through anything and everything. The Lord said He will never leave us or forsake us. Sure, we’ll make mistakes along the way, but His grace is sufficient for us. We just need to take God at His word.
We, as Christians, have a responsibility to read the word and apply it to our lives. God is not always going to do whatever He wants and He will not override our wills. It is also not up to us to do everything on our own. We must work with God by doing our part through trusting and putting our faith in Him and allowing Him to guide us along the way. Also know that the devil wants to mess our lives up and get us off the path God has for us. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” If there is destruction going on in your life, do not believe that God is the author of it. In John 10:10 Jesus says, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” Just because something bad happens does not mean that it is the Lord’s will. Jesus came to set us free from oppression. Acts 10:38 says “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” And we have been given authority over the enemy. In Luke 10:19 Jesus says, “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”
There is so much I have learned in the past ten years of my life. I could go on and on about the things that God has done for me, but there is not room enough to contain it in this testimony. I have been filled with the spirit, and have learned to walk in love and not be easily offended. I’m now confident in who God has made me and faith has now replaced fear. I can now help hurting people because the Lord has healed me. Even though I am not perfect, I strive to read the Word of God, believe it, and live it, regardless of my circumstances. I am learning to walk by faith, not by sight or by feelings. When fear and insecurity try to come back into my life, instead of giving into them, I choose to say and believe what God says about me. I have learned to overcome by standing on the Word of God. I now know who I am in Christ, and I continue to allow God to stretch me and change me as I seek Him.
If you have a testimony of God’s amazing grace working in your life in a real way, please email us. We would love to be a part of sharing your story. Your pain can become somebody else’s gain!