My life’s journey with God.
We were brought up in a Christian home, we’re all baptized as babies and did go to church occasionally and Mum raised us with Christian values and taught us about Jesus as best she could. As you have read through my posts you probably saw a pattern where I put myself down almost constantly and seems like I always mentioned the bad things about myself and my situation. Maybe I like putting myself down again, as self critical as it may be. I did this because as I wrote I brought up old feelings and that was how I truly felt. I don’t hate myself anymore and Jesus has blessed me with so much in life. I mean look at some of the good experiences I had. I can’t even ask ‘where was God all my life?’ because I know where He was, right beside all of us. He never left me from when I was born right up to this very breath. Yes life gave us a hard knock but then I also chose to fuel the flame with substance abuse. If I had come to Christ much earlier in life and followed him and did not participate in wrong doing, my life would have long been much more pleasurable and manageable. There were a lot of times where I did some introspection and knew there was a good man somewhere in me, however, it was just too difficult at the time to do be and stay good. I never want to be that helpless confused grown up child ever again. I am ashamed of my drunkenness and drug abuse and sexual misconduct. I have forgiven myself for all my wrong doings and thus I felt God forgave me too because I truly am sorry. I will make amends to the people I’ve hurt in life when I get the chance. The apology tour.
I prayed every single day of my life and fought with God on numerous occasions. I called Him names and swore at Him, but I kept on praying and believing. I was this drunken party Christian, I thought I was better then all these church going people and then I was also better than those in the pubs who professed to be believers. I didn’t read the bible, I didn’t spread the gospel of Jesus, I didn’t go to church until 2011 and even then while sitting in church I judged everyone as hypocrites and fakes. It’s the suffering man like me who has intense prayers, he is the true Christian, not the happy, smiling type, no, they are all fake. I, the quiet one with inner turmoil, don’t talk religion type am the real follower of God. I didn’t see my behavior as such a big problem anyway because I only drink on weekends, took drugs every now and then, not daily. I’m a good man and God will let me into heaven, I just need to believe and pray and do some good works. I mean that’s easy, isn’t it. Through grace and faith you will be saved.
The most disturbing thought I ever had was about a year or two ago, the time I genuinely and actively started to pursue Jesus with all my heart and soul, I thought back on the days of old and wondered :
‘If I had died, would I have made it into heaven?’
No, I would not have. I just cringed to the bone again thinking about that thought. I would not have been with Jesus. You see back then believing in God and Jesus was easy, I could mould this three-personed God to suit my lifestyle, I’m the potter and He is the clay. If something does not sit right with me in the bible I could twist and justify it in such a way that it would not be such a big deal anymore or worse ‘let me do this one more time I am forgiven anyway’. Because I’m so messed up and sad and pray long anguished and remorseful prayers, I have special clearance don’t I. Like pleading insanity or mentally ill and the judge let you go. The once saved always saved debate. Though I did not always like myself and the things I did, never once did I thought of myself as a bad man, definitely not, I was good deep down, little bit faulty, though good nonetheless, I helped people too and was also kind and caring to those who I didn’t like.
I was in actual fact extremely self centered. No one in the history of the world ever think themselves worthy of going to hell, and that’s where the crux lies. I thought myself a decent human being but don’t want to go below the surface to change. God I’m sorry, please forgive me I have some issues and just need some time to sort it out, but I’m a good man am I not. I do believe in you and do some works at least. I want to know you at least and do your will.
And so God waits. Showing me the way, guiding and protecting me so that the bad behavior can come to an end one day and this goodness can come into full bloom. So I carried on with my behavior. Let me rather say procrastinate. Hmm I’m not quite ready to give up this or that just yet, in fact I like doing it and God will always forgive me. Just one more time. Freedom of choice and I chose the other side.
When I cried out to God at night for forgiveness I truly was sincere, yet still I justified my actions in His presence, as if trying to manipulate Him and telling Him that his laws are too hectic, please bend them for me. I was a bad behaving Christian who didn’t produce much good fruit, knew wrong from right and did feel remorse, so when I prayed I genuinely was sorry. Nevertheless when joe shmo came along and said hey try some of this or lets party, then all my Christian morals flew out the window only to return when I’m sorry, or I’m in trouble or bless me because I have none. Convenient Christianity. I’m saved as long as I’m good right and truly believe. What if the bet I placed on once saved always saved did not work out and I died back in my wild days, to spend an eternity away from God. Imagine that.
How weird is this: I just thought about it again and you know what maybe I would have been saved:
Why, would you have been saved?
‘Because I truly was good and I prayed long prayers and had a true relationship with God.’
What else did you do?
‘I helped people, I spoke about God sometimes, I asked for forgiveness and forgave others, I believed in Jesus and they are all one anyway, you believe in God you believe in Jesus right. I also did a lot of things God asked of me but in my special way and on the right time. I had so much advice and if people would just listen and do the things I say, things will be much better for them’
Why did you not follow your own advice? You ruthlessly judged others for doing wrong yet you are the only one exempt from this rule, I’m confused.
‘Because I was too weak to make changes and I know I’m forgiven. I will change one day, just not now. Other people really are hypocrites and they truly are fakes and they profess to be Christians when they’re not, God does not show in their life. They have sex, drugs and get drunk and fight and make other’s lives miserable’
Ok judgy judgenstine you did the same?
‘Yes but not like them, their hearts are wrong. Sure I had some issues that I struggled with but I really was good. I just had a hard life and lost control and messed up sometimes, but I was dealing with a lot at the time, it’s not easy to change’
How do you know what their hearts are like, you don’t know them?
‘Trust me I knew a lot of them and they are bad’
You were also bad, just slightly different?
‘No I was not, well not as bad as them’
You were in exactly the same category as they were, look at how you treated people. Your own mother at times. You stole people’s things, but no; I’m not like that guy who compulsively takes what’s not his. You made your own family and friend’s lives miserable, you fought and swore at God and used His name in vain. Just look at the stuff you did and now you want to stand here, judge others and say you were not like they were’
‘I wasn’t like them, I had a good heart ok ‘
The whole world is good Mannie, there’s not one person on this earth that does not have good in them and think themselves as decent folk. If we preached the gospel as this; that you can do whatever you want, as long as you get baptized and believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead by almighty God, do a few good things just to say you did them, then you will get to heaven?
“Something like that ja, but your heart has to be in it’
And what if you’re hearts not in it enough like you thought it was and you don’t make it?
‘Well then I don’t make it’
Really that’s your answer.
Do you realize what you are saying?
‘What do you want me to say, if God don’t let me into the kingdom of heaven because of a few bad things I did then what must I do, I suffered for my faith and I didn’t always know the right things to do, but I truly am sorry for who am and what I did, and if God can’t see the good in me and that I tried than well so be it’
So be what?
‘Look I honestly don’t think God will throw me into hell, He might send me somewhere else but not hell’
There is no where else?
‘Well then I don’t know but I don’t deserve hell’
Ok if He does not let you into heaven, where must you go?
‘well if heaven is like the garden of eden, lock me out and let me wonder around outside’
That hardly seems like punishment?
‘I don’t see why I should I be punished anyway, I never killed or seriously harmed any one, I mean look at some of the people in this world, they deserve hell, not me, I’m a kinder garden compare to some, Plus I did way more good than some “genuine Christians “ ever did’
Good Christian people don’t always justify or argue their wrong doings, they admit their faults and work on bad behavior to shine God’s light unto the world. They believe with their whole heart and soul that Jesus Christ died on the cross and was raised from the dead. To know Christ is to become more like Christ and make Him Known. You can’t make something known if you don’t know it yourself.
‘Trust me I know more about Jesus than you’ll ever know’
You know the theory of Christ, you live on quotations and proverbs to sound smart and educated. As for living and doing what Christ did, you know nothing Mannie Rose.
‘Hey listen here, I know what I believe ok and I am a good man, sure I drank and smoked and took drugs and carried on like a hooligan, and yes maybe I was not the best representation of Christ or I rejected the church or whatever, I believed ok and through grace and faith I would have been saved, I don’t need you to come and tell me what I was and what I was not, only God can judge me, not you’
Ok one last question.
Say you stand before God one day and He does not let you into heaven because you believed in once saved always saved and did not feel the need for change because you had grace, though you believed whole heartedly in Him, what then?
‘Well I don’t know what then but I still don’t believe I deserve hell’
But you must go somewhere?
‘like I said He can lock me out of heaven and let me walk around outside’
So your saying there should be certain degrees of punishment?
‘Yes, look maybe I didn’t deserve heaven but I also did not deserve to burn in hell for an eternity, that’s a bit of a hectic sentence for someone like me’
What if that’s not the case and there truly is a fire and you burn forever, good or not good?
This little dialogue I just had with myself scared me somewhat. Imagine that, I would have been separated from God forever. I focused so much on what I had to give up and not on what I had to gain. I have come to know Christ and He gave me purpose, from here on out I want to follow Him and make Him known all the days of my life, He is the living waters that brings peace and meaning to my life. He has always been there, in my dark days He carried me when I didn’t know what to do. I just took a wrong turn going to church and the choices I made had consequences. Yes this world is not fair and it never will be, however I choose to follow Jesus now and fellowship with people who do the same.We support each other in this messed up world and I can’t thank God enough for the peace and balance He brought me.
My life since I vigorously sought after the gospel is infinitely more unburdened. God is giving me blessings like you cannot believe, happiness is now up to me. If you knew me then you’ll be amazed at the transformation I made, not just from bad to good, but truly believing in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior who was raised from the dead and now lives in my heart. I don’t want to be afraid of dying anymore. I think the day when you can stare death square in the face and not be afraid of it, that’s the day you are truly free in Christ Jesus. Like the poem by John Donne where he speaks to death as if it was a person,
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For whom thou thinkst thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, from what thy pictures be,
Much pleasure – then, from thee much more must flow;
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones and soul’s delivery.
Thou’rt slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell;
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well,
And better than thy stroke.Why swellst thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more, Death, thou shalt die.
Love this poem.
Looking back at my life I see how God has kept me safe so many times. I was weary and He came and helped me kill the demons that tormented my soul. I am no longer that insecure, distressed and fearful guy I was so long ago. I am worthy and stronger then ever before through Christ Jesus. My life has meaning and I’m not so angry anymore. The world and all it’s troubles seem to touch me not, unless I go look for it by watching the news or facebook or whatever medium that brings negativity into my life. I can’t change the world’s problems, but I can make a positive impact where ever I go. It does get tough walking the straight and narrow and I still sleep a lot and lock myself in my room sometimes, not working on my business as I should. I do make an honest living and don’t have anyone caring for me, but sales just don’t seem to come through as much as I want.
The nightmares never seem to disappear, and I don’t laugh anymore, which is a problem and I need to look into it. I’m too serious. Sometimes I still feel very insecure and anxious around successful people who work hard every day and deserve every cent they make. My problems gets worked on one at a time and I’m not so hard on myself whenever I mess up. I’m on no medication and never was, only take omega 3’s, multi vitamins and calcium. I exercise few times a month and have mature and authentic relationships with the people I meet and hang out with. So in conclusion I am amazed just how far I’ve come and I’m hopeful and eager to improve my life through Jesus Christ. It’s slow going and the next challenge now is work. I need to work and earn enough money not just to get by but save up some for my old days. I am doing ok though, just poor. My confidence seemed to be directly linked to my bank balance. That’s a story for another time.
May the God of peace be with you all.