Every believer has a story of God’s saving and sanctifying work in their lives, this is mine.
I was born into a Christian family, going to church every week, praying before dinner. I’ve been saved for as long as I can remember, so really the story of my salvation is a simple one that is bursting with the grace of God, that He would have compassion on me and gather me to Himself before I had to go very far on my own.
The journey of my sanctification, the lifelong process of being refined into Christlikeness, is a more detailed history.
For the first part of my life I was an immature Christian, loving the Lord and assuredly saved, but not centering my life on Him. In sixth grade the Holy Spirit awakened my heart to the fullness of life that comes with fullness of submission to Him, and I began to crave Him at the center of my life.
I was fierce in my pressing into the Lord, fervently searching for every way to more closely fix my eyes on Him. The beginning of this was the frustration I felt at my church when I realized I had not been being taught about the God of the Bible, I was being taught a distortion. When I expressed this to my parents and asked if we could look somewhere else for our church home, they agreed, also sensing the lack of Bible-based teaching.
This began two years of what I call “church-hopping,” and during this period both my brothers stopped coming to church with us. The absence of saving faith in their lives weighs heavily on my heart even today, as neither of them have received Christ; however, I must trust in God’s sovereign plan.
The next thing my refreshed conscience prompted me to change was my school. The environment I was in would send me home crying every day, mourning the loss of innocence and feeling surrounded by darkness. I again turned to my allies in this, my parents. They fully supported and provided for my shift into a Christian school, of which I still attend today. This gave me new hope as I was able to go into school each day growing in not only knowledge, but wisdom as well.
This next one is a major shift in my life, something I never could imagine would happen to me.
I woke up one day with a migraine, and it hasn’t stopped since. And yes, I really mean hasn’t stopped, not even for a minute. This was in the August between my seventh and eighth grade year, I’m now in sophomore year of highschool and have not yet experienced any relief from this pain. Less than a month had passed and I had severe depression and anxiety and was using self harm as a way to find relief from the acute physical and emotional pain I was feeling. I was devastated.
Sixth months were spent in free fall in the care of a therapist who was unable to help me. Then I switched practices entirely and found a comrade and a confidant who equipped me for the battle I was fighting, along with support from medication.
This new therapist helped stop my free fall and I began the long trek to recovery with my God at my side.
Since then a lot has gone on. The past two years have been filled with more doctors’ appointments than I can count and a disappointing result for each one of them. There have been up to 20 pills day, 8 shots in my head for a nerve block, and bloodwork and MRI scans many times over. I share this not for pity, but for God’s glory. There is no way I could have lived through this without the Lord, much less have the JOY and HOPE I was able to have in Him, as the greater purpose I have received from the Creator was many times the only thing stronger than my desire for an end to the suffering.
God is good on the hills and in the valleys, so what else was I to cling to in this than Him? He promises in Romans 8:28 to work everything for the good of those who love Him. This sickness (physical and emotional) was the greatest good that has ever happened in my life, because so much of it has already worked for my good in my relationship with God, others, and myself. My God has begun to sanctify me and this good work will be finished on the day of His return. I am assured of no more sadness and no more pain. This is but a momentary affliction, a fire in the refining process, the pressure of the Potter’s finger as He molds the clay.
One of the most awe-striking qualities of the Bible is its unity. Though it was written by over 40 authors across 1,600 years and is made up of 66 different books, one common message is carried through every chapter and verse: God redeeming man to Himself.
I mention this because just as this message permeates every word of the Bible, it fills every moment of our lives. This lifetime holds salvation, redemption, hope, freedom, and joy no matter what the external circumstances are, but only for those who surrender themselves, repent, and accept these as free gifts.
God is redeeming me to Himself, and He wants to redeem you too.