When was the first time you were told that there is a Spirit out there in the universe, a Great and Wonderful Spirit, that created you, your mother, your father, your brothers and your sisters, every bird that flies in the sky, every animal that walks on the earth, every creature that crawls on the ground and every one that swims in the oceans; the sun, the moon, and every single twinkling star in the sky; He created it all with his Word and his Breath and Spirit.
This is my witness of the One True God, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Through the ages of 14 to 16, I went through something that perhaps some of you went through at around that age: I became extremely depressed for no reason which I myself could understand. At this time in my life, I started to disobey and fight constantly with my mother; I gave in to lusts and allowed myself to be defiled; because I felt low and worthless and insecure and I experimented with alcohol and getting drunk because it was the thing to do and it was fun.
My soul fell deeper and deeper into darkness, and I became so hopeless that I eventually tried to take my own life. When I look back and try to figure out why I felt that there was no better option but to die, I see that my reasons were steeped in selfishness: I was extremely unhappy, but I didn’t know why, and nobody cares so I’ll make them care, I’ll kill myself and then they’ll be sorry. So I swallowed a bunch of prescription pills and I wasn’t sure what exactly they were and whether or not they’d do the job, so I also drank some of that black, poisonous drain cleaner to be sure.
Afterwards: anguish. What had I done? I didn’t really want to die, I was just so lost and empty and angry and I wanted to lash out and punish someone for those feelings but truly the biggest harm we can do is the harm we do ourselves.
In my despair, I called the first person I though of and, for some reason, that person was my ex-boyfriend. Incidentally, he was the only person I knew who seems devoted to God. As soon as he heard my distress and what I had done to myself, he came right over. He wasn’t even at home, he was at a friend’s house, and his friend’s mother, Carol, drove him all the way to my house which was about an hour away. They came to me as soon as I called.
I will never forget Carol: she entered into my house, a woman I have never before met, and she embraced me long and hard and she told me that the Lord loves me, and made me, and that no matter how dark life may seem or hopeless, He will always be there. After I had calmed down, she spoke to me at length about the Lord’s love and mercy and kindness, and she urged me to turn to Him.
Now my ex-boyfriend was the first person I called but I hadn’t spoken to him in quite some time and I knew that he didn’t have any means of transportation so I wasn’t expecting him to come over to me. I don’t know why he was the first person I called, but immediately, those who were strong in faith made themselves available to me, and in retrospect I see how the Lord uses His people, those who believe in Him, to reach those who are still lost.
My Lord was with me when I was sitting there weeping, my heart aching for no reason that I could put a name to, while the vast feeling of emptiness that I had become accustomed to gaped painfully inside of me. So He sent His saints to help restore my soul, to speak the only words which could ever chase that emptiness away.
But I still didn’t understand the magnitude of the Lord’s love: if I had, I would have turned to Him immediately and that would have been that. However, because I did not pursue a relationship with Him, the darkness and depression came back and though I never tried to kill myself again, I used mutilate myself, cut my wrists in the belief that doing so would somehow ease my suffering. And all the while I doubted God on almost every point I knew about Him.
I doubted and I questioned and debated and tried to show those who believed in the Lord the flaws of their belief. I tried to show them their errors and how certain things could just not possibly be true. I was making these arguments and attacking the Bible, its authority, its accuracy and its truthfulness; but actually, I could not have known what I was talking about, because I had never read the Bible.
I had heard some of the stories in the Bible; I had been taught about Jesus Christ in school; I had been to church and had listened to the sermons: and somehow I thought that that made me an expert on the matter. So I while I thought that I knew what I was speaking about when I was debating the Bible, having never once even studied the Bible myself, I was like a blind man trying to lead a seeing one over the edge of a cliff.
I’m lucky that I went to a Christian high school that had Devotions every assembly because it was in that hall that I heard the Lord preached by teachers and other guests every week. So over the years, I started becoming more open to accepting that there was a God and that He was a good God: every now and again something very positive would happen to me, and I began to remember to thank Him.
At some point I even tried to find a church that I could become a part of, and I tried one or two: I said the oh-so-familiar sinner’s prayer a once or twice and finally I even tried to get into reading the Bible; but I found that hardly anything made sense to me at all, so I gave up on it.
Instead I tried very hard to to be a good person and all the things that will supposedly get you into the Kingdom of Heaven without you really having to acknowledge the Father and the Son; and so the Lord was very distant from the centre of my life.
Then I went to university, and in my 1st year, again I looked for the Lord. I attended church consistently for a while, and went more and more to see and hear the Gospel. But I was living a life of debauchery and promiscuity and lewdness and I allowed many to defile me, I was caught in that old trap: trying to fill an emptiness inside of me with lust, partying, getting drunk, giving myself to complete strangers but feeling the emptiness again the very next morning; thus was the cycle repeated. The universal complaint that we as humans have is: this emptiness inside of us where we are sure something meaningful belongs, so sure that we spend our lives trying to fill the emptiness with something but all our trying is futile as long as we are trying to acquire satisfaction and fulfilment from the world.
I tried desperately to fill my emptiness with love and I looked for it high and low, hoping that someone would come into my life and love me madly, but all I found in the world was lust. I thought if I just give myself to this person, and the next person, surely one of them will take me and keep me and love me truly and faithfully. I yearned so much for love, a love so deep it could fill the vast space that I felt yawning open in my chest every night before I went to sleep, and I’d fall hoping that soon I would meet someone and they would come to love me and not just my body.
Another year and half went by, and I still lived in my ways, still had not filled up my emptiness with that something that everyone is looking for, be it fame, fortune, love, money, beauty: the countless wants and supposed “needs” laid before us by the media, which we are told will satisfy the longing inside of us but certainly never do. The world we live in is full of worldly wants, things that we absolutely must have or we’ll never be happy or successful or make something meaningful of ourselves. And I bought into it too: I made sure I studied to get into a profession which was guaranteed to make me successful and maybe once I had all of that then I would be satisfied, happy.
Then came a day, the first day which I truly laid my load on the Lord and was borne up. My friends had decided to climb a mountain in Stellenbosch, and I decided suddenly to go with them when I heard of it. Now I had been in a bad habit around that time, of just studying constantly and not eating consistently: so it happened that on the day of the hike I had neither eaten a meal that day nor had I been eating properly for two days before that. I meant to eat something before I left for the hike but I just forgot. The day was one of the hotter ones in Stellenbosch, and it was like an oven out on that trail. The friends that I was with were all quite fit people and I, though I had some natural fitness, had not done proper exercise in too long.
I truly felt as though I was right inside an oven that day, baking in the sun while jogging up the side of the mountain; like I said, the friends I was with were quite fit, so I had to keep up with them all the way.
Eventually, but not even long into the hike, not even halfway up the mountain, my feet were starting stumble on the rocks, and my head was getting faint and there were starbursts in my eyes. I felt that my body was certainly going to fail: I was too weak and my head was so light that I was sure I would not make it much further without passing out. All the while, we were jogging, jogging up that mountain and out of desperation I started praying in my head as we went along: Lord, please give me the strength to climb this mountain, I am weak, Lord, and you are strong, carry me Lord, carry me Lord.
I begged the Lord all the way up that mountain, and laid my burden on him, I admitted that I had no strength to make it up on my own but I knew that He does. I thought: I do not want my friends to have to carry me down this mountain, because my body is just going to buckle beneath me, I can feel it; and I prayed all the more earnestly: Lord, please give me strength, I cannot do this on my own Lord, help me please. And I kept the prayer up in my head, and then a change: my feet were springing from rock to rock, strength was simply there in my body as if it had always been. I did not even notice how I was no longer tired and stumbling, because I was admiring the plants on the trail and the view up the mountain and the peace of the wilderness, and I was thinking of how lovely and beautiful everything around me was.
When I got to the top of that mountain, I felt elated; I praised the Lord in my heart and thanked Him fervently for lending me His abundant strength, for bearing me up the mountain when I was so sure that I would faint from weakness. I took in the view and all the creation before me just spoke to me of the Lord’s wonder and glory. My heart was filled with gratitude up on that mountain, and it felt as though I would burst, as though I was too small a vessel to hold the gratitude and the happiness that I felt.
My journey down was less of a trial, but I had prayed for the lord to stay with me and not withdraw his strength. On the way up I was focused on keeping myself from fainting until I stopped relying on myself when I admitted that I could not prevail on my own, and on the way down I was free to marvel and wonder at the Lord who had just done something completely miraculous in my eyes, and no one but me was even aware of the whole thing.
That day changed my view of the Lord, and it opened my mind to the idea that I am utterly helpless to save myself, and to the idea that in order to be saved, I must submit myself to the Lord Jesus Christ and take his loving hand so that he may help me, so that he may carry me up all the mountains that I will come to climb in my life.
Thereafter, I started seeing the Lord more and more in the world, in the beauty of His creation and I started to think about Him more and more. And as I started to learn of the Lord’s beauty and love, I started to see with refreshed eyes the world’s evil and hatred. Research on popular culture and my keen following of Middle Eastern events that I had believed to be separate from my journey with the Lord started becoming ever more relevant.
In my research I also saw on many websites the many Christians crying out in the comments for people to repent and believe, quoting Scripture, telling people of the Lord’s love and mercy. I found myself being drawn to God, I wanted to know who He really was, and why He would let such terrible things come to be if He was so Good: so I started to earnestly seek the Lord God.
After years of being told to, I finally started to read the Bible every day and lo and behold the Lord started speaking to me, personally, and answering questions I had had in my heart for years. In doing more seeking online, I became more acquainted with not only the notion of the Lord’s righteous law but also with the passion that others had in the Lord and for preaching the Gospel.
I began researching what exactly the Lord required of men: what exactly was this law? The answer was so simple, yet I didn’t realise how important it was before looking for it and finding it. And it is such a testament to how far I was from the God that I did not even realise that His law is the Ten Commandments.
Not long after learning what the Lord required of me, I was lying in bed one night, and whilst doing some research: it was given unto me to see the truth of the Lord’s testimony and having received the testimony, I was given faith by the LORD God and I believed with my whole spirit and my whole being. And in my belief my eyes were opened to how debased and sinful my whole life had been before: I had tried to lead others away from their path because I had no path of my own; I was cruel to my sister and made her sorrowful; I hated my brother and wanted his things; I committed many fornications knowing how empty every one of them left me; I judged the world with worldly eyes and so I was blind; my sin was heavy on my heart and I wept in my bed and wanted to hide from the Lord so He wouldn’t see how naked and how filthy I really was: because only by faith could I understand the magnitude of my transgressions against the Lord, but I knew in my heart, that there was nowhere I could hide where He wouldn’t see me and indeed He had seen already, and had been there always. Thus I felt for the first time the fear of the Lord.
So with trembling knees and fear and shame in my heart, I got out of bed and got down on my knees and made myself as low as I could, made myself as meek as when I had begged for the Lord’s strength up on the mountain, and I begged him for forgiveness, and I prayed and pleaded with the Lord Jesus Christ to take away my sin and to save my life, I prayed for Him to make me love His laws and to live them: and the Lord, in His faithfulness, has answered my prayers.
The Lord Jesus Christ gave his life as a ransom for all of my many sins so that I would not have to to pay the price: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
And so my journey with the Lord continues. He has taken His rightful place as the centre of my universe in a way that I never thought possible, and His daily presence in my life has filled my emptiness, His love and His mercy and righteousness fill me to bursting; the Lord has blessed me greatly in this and much more.
So if you’re feeling that emptiness, as I know many people do, and if you keep wondering what your purpose in life is and you have no path to follow: remember there is an awesome, merciful God who made you, who loves you more than you could know, who wants you to turn to Him so much that He provides all the ways for you to be reconciled to Him; His mercy and his love are eternal and His law is good, it brings peace and happiness and living by obeying it brings the Lord’s countless blessings. Millions have testified to the Lord’s Gospel, His good news, and have believed so much that they have gone to the slaughter for it, and still do even to this day: because the love of God is greater than this world.
So what do you have to lose in taking the time to ask Him to show Himself to you, taking the time to seek Him diligently? For He says “Ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find.” (Matthew 7:7)
He is calling you every single day that you wonder around this world feeling lost or downtrodden or hopeless; He says to you in His very own words: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)
May Christ, the Light of the World, be with you always