What Has God Done for Me?

calvary

I have quite a few friends who have known me for several years. Many of those friends have commented that I’ve changed drastically. My answer is always the same. God changed me. Often, they follow with a second question: How?

Well, the answer is simple, but it’s not easy. Simply put, God put within me a new heart. He erased decades of pain and misery and put a heart filled with joy in me. How He did that is where it’s not easy.

You see, a lot of people look at God with a skewed viewpoint. He’s either some distant spirit in the heavens that’s detached and uninvolved in the affairs of man, or he’s a benign grandfather figure that grants wishes. There’s always some variance to these themes, but they seem to be the prevailing ideals of God. Neither are accurate, at all.

What I have found, in my own experience, is that God truly is love. It is His most dominant characteristic. He is a loving father that wants his children to be happy and healthy. Just as a loving father sometimes needs to step back and let his children make their own choices and learn from their mistakes, so it is with God.

There were a lot of years where I knew God. I first accepted Christ as my savior at age 9. But I didn’t really want a relationship with Him. I confessed Him with my lips, but I didn’t live as though I was His child. I loved the world and lived for it. The results of that behavior is that I got caught up in the world and all its trappings. I never found fulfillment and I was always miserable.

Eventually, my self-will run riot led to all sorts of pain. I became addicted to substances. I ruined a marriage. I got in all sorts of trouble. I ran my business into the ground. And I suffered for many years, thanks to my own willfulness. I created my own misery by living for this world.

But God is not one to turn His back on His children. No, not at all. All the while I was caught up in all that misery, God continued to reach out to me and call me home. Sometimes it was through another person sharing their story. Sometimes it was by running across a piece of literature that just “happened” to be there. And sometimes, it was just a still, calm voice in my soul saying, “It will be alright, my son.” Somehow, some way, God kept chasing me.

Then came the bottom. There came a point in time when I had run so far, for so long that God had to let me experience the consequences of my actions to the fullest. It was then when I understood that hell is real, because I experienced a very real taste of it. Hell can be defined as the complete separation of God from man. It is when God says, “Ok, have it your way” and He allows us to pull away from Him.

Let me tell you, when you’ve gone your whole life feeling the presence of God in your life and that presence gets removed, there is no greater emptiness. There is no sadness in humanity that can compare to the sheer void of when God finally withdraws His spirit from you. But, while there is life, there is hope.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. ~Jeremiah 29:13

That is the scripture that went through my head when I no longer felt God – when I was at my emptiest. When I finally pushed God away enough for Him to withdraw His spirit from me and let me experience the full consequences of my actions, He reached out one more time and placed those words on my heart.

So I did. I spent the next 5+ years seeking God with all my heart. I read hundreds of books. I read the Bible cover-to-cover a few times. I read Bible dictionaries, commentaries, expositions and any other piece of Christian literature I could get my hungry hands on. And it changed me. The man I am today only resembles the man I was 6 years ago in appearance. The way I think, the way I feel and the way I act are a stark contrast to the man I once was.

God doesn’t make hard terms with us. He simply asks that we seek Him and a relationship with Him. He wants us to know Him. He already knows us. I don’t think God wants us to go to the extreme I did. But I do think He wants us to spend time in His Word, the Bible, and to spend time with Him in prayer. If we do those two simple things, He will transform us in the best person we can be.

So, to answer the question I posed in the title of this note: What Has God Done for Me?

  • He has freed me from the bondage of self.
  • He has freed me from addiction.
  • He has provided for my physical needs.
  • He has given me peace and serenity.
  • He has given me my family back.
  • He has given me my friends back.
  • He has brought a host of wonderful new people into my life.
  • He has given me hope for a future worth living for.
  • He has given me more happiness than I thought I’d ever experience.
  • He has given me life when all I knew was death.
  • He has given me His presence in my heart and life, which is beyond amazing.
  • He has shown me that there are no limitations to what He can and will do for those who love Him.

What has God done for me? Everything.

Today, I am a very grateful and happy man. Not because of anything I’ve done, but because I have God in my heart and He continues to shower His love on me. All it takes is having a relationship with Him.

To all my family, friends, and acquaintances, I share this testimony with you in the hopes that you will come to understand God a little better. God is love. God wants you to be happy, healthy and fulfilled. But God will not force Himself on you. He will knock on the door, but you have to open it. I hope in sharing my personal story you will become willing to open the door.

God bless!

Christians Are Not Weak

I’ve known many people in my life who dispelled religion as something for the weak. Some call it fairy tales. Some deny the existence of God, while others believe in an intelligent design, but cannot begin to define what that is.

I am no theologian. I’m just an average guy, of average intelligence, but I have not lived an average life. Far from it. Therefore, I have learned a great deal in my short 38 years on this earth.

I won’t publicly air my dirty laundry as I don’t feel the need. Suffice it to say, I’ve been through more than most people would believe or understand. I’ve faced death more times than I care to count. I’ve lived a life where to fight was to survive. I’ve fought many battles, internal and external. The external battles were the easy ones to fight.

Also, most of my adult life, I’ve worked more than one job at a time. Even now, I work as a contractor for one company while I rebuild my own business. This is not an adventure for the weak hearted. It takes hard work, discipline and an unshakable belief in your own abilities to take on such an uncertain venture.

But, for all my personal strengths, I do not claim glory. By the world’s standards, I’m strong. I’m a fighter. And, in many ways, I am. However, I’ve learned that for all that I’ve been through, It was God carrying me and strengthening me. I am strong, because of God, not because of myself.

When I humble myself at the throne of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and openly proclaim that I am nothing without Him, I become a channel for His power to flow. While I’m far from perfect, I make it a point to put God first in my life. I’m not very good¬†at it some days. Honestly, I battle with it every day. The flesh is weak. But He didn’t come to save the perfect. He came to save people like me, and you!

God The Strength of my Heart
Image courtesy of Eren McKay

If you think it makes me weak to submit to a power greater than myself, consider this: The world as a whole condemns such behavior. The world screams, “Live for the world. Live for the flesh. Live for the now.” Even my own flesh¬†craves what will kill me. Every day I have to fight a war inside my mind and body because I have a disease that wants to kill me by my own hand.

It takes a tremendous amount of strength to say no to the world, to turn to the countless scores of people around me, and tell them, “No. I will not be a follower of man. I will live for someone you cannot see or touch. I will live for Jesus.” It takes a lot of courage and strength to stand up for what is right, when everyone else around you is pushing you to do what is wrong.

I’m not really good at witnessing. I don’t know if sharing this helps anyone. But, I get a little tired of hearing how Christians are weak. We’re not weak. We have to fight every day, all day the flesh that cries, “Conform! Do like everyone else and life will be easier!” In our human nature, it’s impossible for one to stand up against the world. As strong as we may be as individuals, no one is that strong. Where I get my strength from is God. It’s because He is strong, that I am strong. And I make no apologies for that.

Even when it meant ridicule, even when it meant lost jobs and lost relationships, I professed my belief in Christ. And I will continue to profess His name until the day He calls my soul home.

“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” ~Matt. 10:32-33