God has many names in the word, and I have experienced some them personally. In my own life, not to take away from all His other attributes, Gracious Lord has been the name I've seen most. I have heard when telling your story, you should not dwell on your sin as in boasting in it. I don't want to glorify my actions as a lost child to gain a status of one who was reckless and free. For there is no freedom in slavery. However; when it comes to God's grace, I must boast. For where sin abides, grace abides all the more. So saying that, here is my testimony, my truth-story, the story of a child of God not deserving grace.
I grew up in church knowing sin was wrong and to die in it was death. At an early age God spoke to me so clear and loud, I was to be a preacher. In those early years I had no greater love than He and His Son, and it showed mainly in my prayer life. God's plan for me was going great until christmas 1988-89. My parents were headed for a divorce, and not a good one, if there are any good ones. As the youngest, I took it very badly, I wanted my life back. I closed up and would not talk about it to anyone, I was hurt. The next year I let sin take what should have been my wife's. So at twelve, my fake life of immortality had started. In the three years to follow, I slowly picked up cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana. During these years my parents were so tied up fixing there own problems, I got left behind to fend for myself, or that's how I was seeing it. By fifteen I was drinking to pass out, doing meth, and taking acid. My life was so wrapped in sin, and so far from God, yet I still thought of Him often. But, the closeness I once felt was fading severely, not by His choice but by my own blood stained hands. Now during this, God still would so many times, reach down for me. I can remember looking up at Him, grabbing hold, and letting Him pull me out. Like staying by myself on a park bench in the ghetto of muskogee, overnight. Setting in jail several times, one for carrying a stolen gun, and threatening two men with it, or having a knife pulled out on me by an adult at a party. Waiting and hiding for a drug dealer to come, so we could rob him. But of course, when He would get me out of those situations, I would cowardly run from Him and back into the arms of the world. These are glimpses of my life before I was old enough to drive. I so wanted to be free but had no power to break the chains. Knowing what I did of Him, as a kid, I knew He could save me, but the people I surrounded myself with, told me different. my life of crime would get worse and inevitability pull me further away. The year I would have gotten my diploma, I was instead getting charged with a felony that would get me 12 years. I can still remember sitting in jail, sleeping on the floor next to the toilet because of how packed it was, praying that God would show His grace and mercy one more time. During those days, it seemed that's what I asked for most of the time, just one more lift God, just give me your arm one more time. I was always asking God for one more chance to fly straight, but I would never give Him back the heart of His child. There was a very loving preacher I knew, whose name was pastor loving, go figure, who started coming to see me. Honestly, I don't remember anything he told me, I only remember the love he showed thru leaving his pulpit and going to jail. I never made it to prison as did my peers. I knew God acted and was wanting me in His army but I still would not take up arms with His Son.
A new chapter was starting in my life, I was going to be a dad at the age of 20. At that point in my life, God should have let me go, but instead He gave me a little girl. In Joy's first year alive, she had been hitchhiking numerous times, lived in several towns and cities and was homeless for a short time. Grace was very evident in keeping Joy and her ignorant father safe and in how I managed to be a single dad of a 11 month old girl. It wasn't just for me, but for the woman that would come out of it.
I would take Joy to church but get a sitter for the night before, I was swimming in sin. I didn't rob anymore but would frequent the bottle. I was living a double life and God knew it, and I knew it, I couldn't get any warmer. While Joy was around five I got married to someone warm like me. We weren't made for each other but none the less we joined. Out of this union came another beautiful little girl, Cora Jean. With not having God totally in our marriage, it latest short of four years. There was no way to save it, cause we both refused to let God totally in.
God has a particular way of turning my screw ups around and making them work for His good, which is also for mine. My party days slowed down but didn't stop. it would take Me ignoring God for many years before convection would do its work. God would always show me that He still cared for me, from a sermon I would hear, to strange billboards that would tell me to turn around (long story).
I lost count of the years a have been sober, but I can remember being in greatbend Kansas in august. I was in a battle, a war. God was calling my name so loud that I could not stay still. I was going cold turkey with everything and was giving my life over. I went to a store and bought a bike. Everyday when I would get off work, I would ride to the local creek. So until dark I would lay in the water and talk with God. That week God and I came to an agreement, I would listen to Him, and I would listen to Him some more, lol. It was so spiritual uplifting, there could have been angels there and it couldn't have been more emotional for me.
In my life at that moment, I had my two girls, in whom I loved dearly. Not to take away from them but I was still missing something in my life. Now that I didn't drink and what not, I couldn't find anyone that wanted what I did. Not to mention I was not giving my body away anymore until I was married, if God so allowed it. So that ran all the potential women away all the more. God was telling me plain as day, to let Him do the searching, and so I did. Then it happened, I found a woman that was like me, a sinner saved by grace, and that was saving her newly found spiritual life and body for her husband. God was good, He was setting in to motion a chain reaction of events that would help me along my own walk. He was giving me a wonderful woman and a great son, and shortly after another beautiful daughter. We have our battles as a marriage, but we love each other and we love God, and with those we will keep moving towards a life long marriage. I couldn't have picked a better wife. God was showing grace to me by giving me someone I didn't deserve. She is my life, and no other holds a candle to her. I know I feel this away about her because we both let God bring us together and we both crave God's voice.
Now of course I am not good or perfect; however, when I call on the name of Jesus, I am free. No more am I chained with guilt of who I was, because who I was is past. He who the Son sets free is free indeed.There are many stories in my life that shouldn't ever be told, nor will they. I don't boast in myself, but I do boast in the grace that has been givin me. For without God's grace, I was, I would be, and will be nothing. I am a child of God, not deserving grace, but thank God it's not earned but givin.
Ps, my testimony has only just begun.
To be cont....................
This is interesting Jon, and each of us has travelled a unique path to salvation but it always end the same; saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9) I encourage you to keep walking with God and above all keep trusting him, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6) You will find that the road is rough sometimes and you might feel like giving up, but stick with it, persevere and God will help you to make it. And here is the good news. After it is all over and you stand before God's throne you will be richly rewarded and will hear the most beautiful words to accost the ears of a human, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." (Matthew 25:21) Your testimony is interesting and I am looking forward to reading the rest of it. God bless you Jon.