Gracious God – a Testimony of God’s Work in Salvation
God blessed me with loving parents who instructed me in good moral principles. My father was a well known businessman in the town where I grew up. I had everything a human being could possibly desire: love, a good family, friends, success at school, health, wealth, and yet as I grew up I was conscious of a kind of longing for what I called at that time ‘inside peace.’
I looked for it in yoga, music, dance, in my relationship with my friends, in the many trips I did, in nature, even in meditation. But it was too slow. I felt I would need a hundred lives to reach it!
I was aware of the Bible because the priest would read a portion of it at the mass where I went once a week. I was taught that the Bible was the Word of God, and that it was precious, but at the same time I found God so far away from my experience, and his Word didn’t reach me; it didn’t affect my every day life; it wasn’t practical.
Of course it was filling my intellect, but not my heart. I remember at one point of my life that I had to force myself to think about God, or to try not to forget to pray when I woke up, or at night before going to sleep. But I forgot so many times.
Then, one day the Lord brought me into contact with a Christian couple. The lady opened the Bible and began to show me the way of salvation, but I didn’t understand at all. It was so different from anything I had learned. She told me that I was not saved, but that Jesus had died on the cross to save me. It was the first time of my life I heard the word ‘saved’ in that context. So I told her that she didn’t have the right to judge me, as she didn’t know me at all. I thought she was very conceited to dare to say that she was saved.
I was pleased and satisfied with my Catholic religion, so I simply stopped the conversation right there and turned that ‘Baptist’ woman out of the house. Anyway, I had been taught not to listen to anybody with another religious belief.
But the week following that first encounter, I couldn’t get out of my mind the conversation with that lady. What particularly troubled me was that Book. I really believed that Book to be the Word of God. I finally realized that I was a hypocrite to say I believed the Bible was the Word of God, and at the same time to ridicule the lady because she was a ‘Baptist.’ It’s clear to me now that these mixed emotions all through that long week were in fact the work of a gracious God in my heart.
One week later, I met the lady again. Overlooking my hardness towards her, she started again to question me about God and his salvation through Jesus. At that point, I was willing to ask questions. I was puzzled and thrilled at the same time to discover that the Bible had all the answers to my questions, even if I still didn’t understand much. It was so new and so confusing too.
Then she invited me to the Wednesday prayer meeting. School year had just ended the week before, so I decided to go, out of curiosity. I didn’t tell my parents about it of course, I was eighteen after all!
On that Wednesday evening of May 1973, among a small congregation of about twenty people, I heard the gospel preached for the first time in my life. It impressed me greatly even if I didn’t understand much. I only knew that what I heard was different from what I used to hear at my own church. It was like a ray of light passing through a thick wall in the dark room of my heart.
After this Bible study, we were divided into small groups to pray. I had never heard such prayers. It was as if people were speaking to a close friend, somebody they respected and loved dearly. And during that prayer time, with my eyes closed, Ephesians 2: 1-9 became crystal clear. I was dead in trespasses and sins; I was by nature a child of wrath as others. I was then confronted with hell because of my sins. Before then, I thought that I was a good girl, not perfect, but not so bad as to deserve hell. I believed that I would have to go through purgatory to purge my sins, but ultimately I would end up in heaven. I thought I was a child of God. I had been baptized, or rather sprinkled with holy water when I was six days old, you know! But now I was seeing that all these things amounted to nothing.
Everything the lady had told me began to make sense. I was 1ost- doomed for hell! ‘Please somebody save me!’ was my instant inner scream. Right then, oh wonder of wonders, my eyes still closed in prayer, the cross was lifted up high and clear in front of me. There was the answer! Jesus died for my sins and lived hell for me. He paid the price. John 3: 14-1 6 is true. I wept at the sight of such unlimited love. There, during that very prayer time, the Lord saved me. He took me out of hell and introduced me into his kingdom, into his family, into his very presence. The sun had completely filled the room of my heart. I was born again, ‘not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but by God.’ John 1:13.
Since then, I wake up each morning thanking God for his merciful work. Before going to sleep, the Spirit of God prompts me to pray. And all through the day, and through the reading of his Word, he guides, comforts, strengthens me. I’m no longer searching for peace, for God is dwelling in me. ‘But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.’ (John 14:26-27)
‘O Give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.’ (Psalms 136 : 1)
(Christine is the wife of Daniel Bernier who is the pastor of the Baptist Church in Plessisville, PQ, Canada.)
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