Saturday, June 21, 2008

Dana's Testimony

How My Life Changed Forever

Growing up, we went to church every Sunday. I sang songs about Jesus, was confirmed and baptized. By all outward appearances, I was a Christian. I walked like a Christian, talked like a Christian, and even looked like a Christian (I wore Jesus shirts often.) I even shared what I believed- that Jesus loves me. And He does. I do not believe, however, that I was actually a Christian.
It wasn’t until I fully understood about Christ’s love for me that I realized something did not make sense. I viewed Jesus as someone we pray to and even as God, but I didn't really understand why. If anyone had ever asked me, I would have had no idea why He died and why it really mattered. I also respected the Bible but never read it and didn't even know what it said. As I grew older, I definitely did not obey the parts of it that I did know.
When I began attending my current church, I thought that I had stepped into one of those old-fashioned ones that preach hellfire and brimstone. Honestly, I was very offended. I had never had anyone accuse me of breaking God's laws and barely even knew what sin was. That week I began to read the Bible and suddenly my eyes were opened. Everything that our pastor had said was true. Jesus talked a lot about sin and I had never realized it.
After that first week, the Bible became real to me. I began to read it daily and gained greater understanding of myself and people in general each time I read it. I was no longer striving to do good so that I could be a good, moral person. I finally saw myself for who I really was: a self-centered person who did not need God unless He could give me what I wanted. He had become a convenience for me, a nice grandfatherly figure in the sky from whom I could ask anything and He would comply. That is not the God of the Bible. I prayed to God, asking for His forgiveness and mercy. I am still far from where I would like to be in my relationship with Christ, but each day I grow closer to Him and He continues to teach me in the midst of my failures. I now live my life according to His Word out of gratitude for what He did for me on the cross. He took my place. In the midst of my sinfulness and selfishness, Christ died for me.
Unfortunately, I am not alone in my concept of God before I read the Bible for myself. America still calls itself a Christian nation, but when researchers ask the basic points of Christianity, we come up desperately short. I believe that this is largely because many of our churches do not preach the Bible anymore and people are being deceived into a form of Christianity. I sincerely care for those who are now where I once was. It is one thing to outright reject Christ, knowing who He is and what He did. It is another thing to be ignorant and still end up in Hell. He has given each one of us a conscience and creation to reveal Himself to us and we will all be without excuse on the day of judgment. The Bible says many will say to me "Lord, Lord...have we not done many things in your Name?" but He will say to them, "Depart from me, you workers of lawlessness, I never knew you." What a terrifying thought. I believe that the Lord brought me through that to be a testimony for Him and I pray that He would use me as an instrument to show others who He really is.

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