It’s been a long while since my last post. This time my whole life has been flipped around, and I want to share with you what I have been a witness to.
As you may or may not know, I have professed to be a Christian my whole life. When I was thirteen I realized that to be a Christian you needed to be baptized! I knew that I needed Jesus as everybody needs Jesus, and that there was no way for me to be with God without it. (No one enters the father except through the son, John 14:6.) I knew that it was something that all had to do to get to heaven. As a girl who grew up attending Sunday school in the Church of Christ from before birth, I knew well who Jesus was and what he did for mankind! I knew that he sacrificed his perfect self for all, and that he rose again on the third day and then ascended into heaven. So when I was immersed in water on that hot Sunday afternoon in July in 2009 I truly did believe that Jesus did all these things. I believed that He is God, and that through Him I would be washed clean.
All was well in my world for a while. I was continuing on with my sin without a care, and proclaimed to be saved for a long time. About a year and a half after the plunge I made some friends in the International Church of Christ and began attending the meeting of the body here in Halifax. I still thought myself a Christian, and began to eagerly see the life of the teen Christians around me, and learned how to live. I desperately wanted an intimate relationship with the Lord, and through the valleys and mountaintops in my walk I committed myself to staying on the Path of Life.
There was a doubt. This doubt came from my understanding that repentance came with baptism. That when I confessed that Jesus was Lord I didn’t make him Lord, and I didn’t repent. I didn’t really look at my own sin, I just knew that I had responsibility for my actions and wanted to make sure I was headed for the home-plate. (I think I used that baseball reference right…)
Early on in my meeting with the ICOC I began to see a difference in the new Christians and in the way that my heart was at my baptism. I saw a fire in their eyes, a fresh life and joyful spirit. I saw conviction and such a deep appreciation for what God had done for them. I didn’t have those things! I definitely grew to have moments of great happiness when surrounded by Christians and God’s word, like at teen camp or church camping trips, but there was just a closeness with God that I struggled to achieve. I battled with accepting God’s grace and continuously felt the guilt and filth of my sins resurface from my past and present moments. A voice in my heart kept asking in whispers: “Was it valid?”
I sought advice as this voice came, and each time I was assured that Satan was just messing with me! I would agree and fight it off, a peace would follow. It was fleeting and the whisper returned over and over. For four years I battled with the fears that grew from whispers into pleas and recently shouts and screams.
I took the challenge made by our minister last month to have consistently powerful times in God’s word daily. This was nothing new to me, but I had fallen short repeatedly, and so took the challenge happily. I prayed that God would reveal to me His voice, and show me His words of truth. I did this not thinking of my fears for my salvation at all! A couple of weeks into studying the love of God in my morning quiet times, I was stricken with a frantic thought: What if you aren’t saved??
I wept. I prayed constantly, and then I frantically went to the scriptures, and Google, for answers. I first searched to see if repentance was actually necessary at baptism, or if it could come later. Surely enough, it wasn’t enough to squeak by without it. I decided to live out Philippians 2:12-13.
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence- continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
These are some of the scriptures that lead me to this.
Acts 3:19 “Repent then and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out. That times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” Times of refreshing come from the intimacy with God that one can only achieve through repentance!
Acts 2:36-38 “’Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus both Lord and Messiah.’ When the people heard this they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’
Peter replied, ‘REPENT AND BE BAPTIZED every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the holy spirit.’” * Note that one must repent and THEN be baptized.
Acts 20:21 “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.”
This knowledge was an absolutely terrifying thing to face. A part of me wished I could live on in ignorance, but 99% of my heart was in agony at the thought of doing that, dying, and coming face to face with God and Him saying, “I do not know you.” Matt (7:21-23)
I then went to a woman in the church who I trusted. She came from a similar background that I had, so I hoped to gain some insight from her. I went to a couple other close women I trusted as well, and for the first time in this battle everybody told me what I needed to hear. I wasn’t told to chill, or trust that I was saved, but to pursue answers- whether that meant being re-baptized or finding confidence in my salvation. So I began studying the bible with a woman in the church, and after a lot of struggle with my emotions, confessing, and constantly being humbled by God, I really grew in my convictions on needing Jesus. As I looked at my heart closely, God opened my eyes and revealed a deep bottomless chasm in my heart. I used the flashlight that is the Truth of God to look into that big black pit, and saw a slimy, dirty place where all my sin resided. I saw the places where I made the hole bigger from years of trying to redeem myself, and I saw at the bottom the person I truly am. I saw a sad, weeping child full of filth and oozing with sores and scrapes, caused by the attempts to claw her way out on her own. I would say I closely resembled Voldemort In the last Harry Potter movie. The scene where harry and Voldemort are killed and Harry finds the once powerful man shriveled up under a train bench; small and weak, broken and without purpose. I saw the magnitude of my sin, and I wept some more.
I carried around this deep mourning for days that felt like ages, and I pleaded that God would help me to understand what it meant to drink from living waters. I remember crying and praying that God would bring me to the waters of baptism so that the hole in my spirit could be filled, and so that I could truly be one with Him. It became a longing that consumed every moment of my days.
Now I know a deep need for Christ, and a DEEP river of thanksgiving for God’s plan of salvation, and I repented of my sin. God finally broke through my walls of reason and his voice came through when I finally learned to be still! I heard the echo from the top of the chasm and God drew me up out of it.
On August 14th, 2014 I made Jesus my Lord, and I was baptized – for real this time. After begging that God would bring me to the waters of life, not really knowing how he would do that, He opened my eyes and helped me to see just exactly what he meant when he spoke to the woman at the well, (John 4.) When I died to sin, was buried in the waters of baptism and rose up out of the grave as a new being, the Waters of Life flooded into my chasm. Jesus filled me with refreshing, and gave me a joy and a peace I have never known and struggled to have. When those waves of water rolled off of me, I felt every weight of sin just run away with it. I had been given the most precious gift of emotional freedom! The bonds of sin were cut off!
I would also like to say that having the Spirit is like nothing I ever imagined! I had always read that I’m never alone, but I often did feel alone! Even with moving out, and experiencing new/ scary things in the city, I really feel the presence of God inside me! I FEEL THE SPIRIT MOVE IN MY HEART. A physical feeling like I had never ever known- the assurance and love I feel radiating from another presence within me is mind boggling.
Praise be to the Lord who works to break through my false confidence! May His name always be exalted for His great Love! He is truly the perfect planner- His timing is absolute.
Me (Left) Ellie (Right) Right after I came out of the water!
I have become a witness to the power and perfect timing of God. He has brought me through so much, and has fabricated the exact timing that was necessary for me to find the absolute truth of God’s plan for me. I am a witness to God’s deep love for each person, and the perseverance He has to win the hearts of the children He loves- you.
I wanted to share this with you, dear reader, because I want anybody who is struggling with the voice in their heart, or the fears they are terrified to acknowledge regarding their salvation to know that they aren’t alone in that. I felt the same way, and in seeking God’s voice, and God’s Love, His power, and Grace and TRUTH I found peace and hope and thanksgiving! Please know that God is seeking you, He’s marching around your Jericho walls that are “protecting” your heart, and will knock them down someday. I just want you to know that He is the ULTIMATE guard for your heart, he is the only one to meet your needs. I pray that these scriptures and words of experience will help you to seek out God with humility and hot pursuit in the days to come.
Here are some scriptures that really helped me to come to terms with the battle in my heart. These are the scriptures I wrote down as I searched the Bible before seeking the advice of others. Maybe it will help you to look at your heart with a clearer sight! I advise you to really look to God as you head out on this quest. He is the only one who will be able to bring you to salvation. Pray that God will put the right people in your life to help you on this journey, and really pray that He will make known to you the truth.
Matt 26, 27, 28
2 Peter 1:3-4
What does the path to repentance look like? 2 Corinthians 7:8-11
Google the definition of repentance
Matt 23:26 Being clean inside and out.
Here is the biggest and most joyous one of all: