I am a sinner. Yet I am forgiven.
I am a saint but I wasn’t always.
This is my testimony of HIS amazing grace.
When I was growing up I heard a lot about Jesus. My parents took us to church religiously. No matter where we lived we went to church. My grandparents on both sides were church-goers. It’s just what our family did. We were Christians.
Like all kids in church I was taught Bible stories and encouraged to invite Jesus into my heart. I did so by praying to Him as best I could when I was 5. From then on it was assumed I was a little Christian. In fact Christianity was assumed of most people I spent time with growing up.
I now know there is a difference between saying “I’m a Christian.” and living “I’m a Christian.” The two are not mutually exclusive.
A changed heart is a changed life.
It took me a while though, to learn this lesson. I believed what everyone told me, that I was a Christian, though my life often reflected the opposite.
I was a rebel. I was disobedient to my parents when I was younger. As I got older I became involved in worldly pursuits. I knew I was not living like Jesus wanted me to live. But I got to the point that I stopped caring what Jesus thought. I used the excuse that the Christians I knew (particularly my parents who had recently divorced after years of infidelity) weren’t living much differently than I was. I told myself if Jesus couldn’t keep my parents together he wasn’t all they said he was.
It wasn’t until in my 20’s, and deep in my sin, I met a couple who’d been living the worldly lifestyle I was. But then they got “Saved!”I noticed changes in them. God was displaying his power in them. It was intriguing especially since the worldly lifestyle I was pursuing was increasingly leaving me empty. They seemed so joyful!
I was lonely. All the relationships I had pursued in my selfishness amounted to nothing. I was attracted to the joy my friends, the recent converts, had. I wanted to be with them and watched them constantly. Eventually I realized I was attracted to Jesus. His name was not unfamiliar. I finally bent the knee and prayed. I asked for forgiveness and told him I wanted to live for him. I also told him I was lonely. I wanted to be married.
As is always the case with Jesus he heard my plea. He began changing me and teaching me and loving me. I felt him. I trusted him.
But I didn’t trust myself.
Soon I met Jason. Jason was handsome. I saw that right away. He was joyful. Turns out he also was a Christian. He had been a Christian for a long time. We struck up a friendship.
In my head a battle raged! I was already head over heels in love with Jason! I barely knew him. I was just so attracted to him in every way possible. But, I knew my past record. Lots of bad boyfriend choices made me leery. And this time I wanted it to be for life. No more playing around. I was 25 already! So, I kept my feelings for him hidden.
Our friendship blossomed because of our mutual love for Jesus. We spent many hours pouring over his Word. I confessed to Jason that though the Bible said I was forgiven I still felt guilty for my past sins, particularly that I was no longer a virgin. Jason’s response was to point me to the truth.
“Laurie, the Bible says that in Christ your sins are as far from you as the East is from the West. That means God doesn’t see your sin anymore. He just sees Christ. In God’s eyes you are a virgin.”
At that time (because we both loved to travel and an opportunity came up) we were planning to travel to Brazil on a sort of missionary journey. Jason didn’t live in AZ at the time so he would go back and forth from NY to AZ. We both were saving our pennies for the journey and not really talking much long distance. The anticipation was killing me!
Eventually the day came and we traveled to Brazil. Some of our good intentions fell through when we arrived and we ended up going with the flow. Instead of meeting missionaries we did the touristy things instead. This led to a sketchy situation. We were alone in a jungle hut and we became too physical with each other. This is something we both regret. Immediately we prayed and asked forgiveness. Then we talked.
In the course of conversation I admitted my true feelings. “Jason, I love you, and If you asked me to marry you today I would.”
He was shocked. He thought for a moment and responded, “You will make someone a wonderful wife but not me. I’m a virgin and I want to marry a virgin.”
I half expected that. Felt like I deserved it really. He was right. I was not a virgin. I reconciled myself to this fact knowing that God had someone for me. It hurt but I was going to move on.
The next day we were on a double-Decker boat on the Amazon river. We had to get from Manaus to Belem. The sun was setting and it would have been a very romantic evening if we hadn’t just crashed and burned the night before. It was a bit awkward but we were adulting and that’s to be expected right?
Leaning against the railing of the boat I had cleared my mind and was just enjoying the ambiance. Brazilian music playing, people laughing, and staring at the token white people (us). Suddenly Jason is standing in front of me. He pauses and asks, “Will you…? then glances at the bar…”Get me a glass of water?” “Uh. Sure.” I start toward the bar. He pulls me back and I hear him say, “Will you marry me?”
“Are you serious?” I ask. He nods. “Yes!”
Stunned. What just happened? Am I really engaged to him? And how? How did he get from “no” to “yes” in less than 24 hours? So I asked.
His response is the reason I always included our proposal story in my testimony. It is a perfect tangible example of what happens when God cleanses us from our sins through the blood of Christ.
He said, “Laurie do you remember that day you were telling me how guilty you felt over your sin of promiscuity? And do you remember what I said? In Christ your sins are as far from you as the East is from the West. In Gods eyes you are a virgin. If that is how God sees you who am I to see you any differently?”
I praise God that he has shown Jason and I his cleansing power and the deep, deep love that no man can fully understand.
I am forgiven!
It is well with my soul.