And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.“ – Luke 22: 31, 32
I grew up as a third generation Seventh-Day Adventist. Both of my parents were Adventists and so were their parents. My week began with Pathfinder Club meetings, where I learned different skills like fire building, sewing, baking, cooking, needlework, and drilling. Pathfinders was also a place where I learned about the Bible and the God who inspired its holy contents. I attended the church school, throughout the week, where I excelled in my favorite subject, Bible. Wednesday evenings I found myself in church for mid-week prayer service; I gathered with my family (both my literal blood family and my spiritual family) and raised prayers of thanksgiving and intercession on each other’s behalf. Friday evenings, all of my relatives gathered together for Family Worship. This was the highlight of my week. I got to see my cousins (since we all went to different churches) and after worship we would get fed and listen as our parents and grandparents told different stories about their childhoods.
Bright and early on Sabbath mornings, my two brothers and I would be woken up with the sound of hymns and the smell of breakfast wafting into our bedroom, which we shared. We would get ready and sit in the living room, waiting until our parents were ready and we would all pile into the jeep that my father drove and head out to church. Sabbath school was always fun, but the main service would always catch me battling with sleep. I didn’t have to sit with my parents, but I had to be in front of them, where they could see me. We were not allowed to talk, sleep, or leave during the service. I would be sitting upright, with my head leaning on my best friend’s head (which was on my shoulder because she always fell asleep first). After church, we would go home to a very healthy lunch. We would be told to take a nap, which we very rarely did, and by 4:30pm we would be on our way back to church for the evening youth service, now called Adventist Youths (or AY). A vesper thought would always be presented at the end of the program and we’d end the Sabbath in prayer. Sometimes after the sun went down on Saturday, there would be what we call a social. Basically, the members of the church would come together to play games and just spend time with each other. There was always lots of food.
This was my life, with the addition of joining choirs and a variety of other ministries. At least it was, until I went off to university. I attended the closest Adventist university to my home, but I was all churched out. I found a group of non-Adventist friends and began to stray from the path I had spent my entire life walking. Still, I wasn’t a “bad” person. Even though I started using expletives and would drink alcohol every now and again, I wasn’t an alcoholic, I still detested parties and didn’t do drugs. I spent two years at the university and returned home with no degree and no love for God.
Time passed. I continued attending church, but my heart was not in it. For every hour I spent in church, I spent three doing something that I knew was not of God. Drinking and partying became a part of my weekend routine. I had new friends; one had one foot in the church and the other out and the other friend was trying to go to hell in a flaming basket. The more time I spent with them, the more perverted my lifestyle got. I got in a lifestyle that, looking back on it, makes me shake my head in disappointment. But at that moment, it felt as though that was where I belonged.
I spent three years in that lifestyle. At some point, I knew I wanted to leave. It was no longer fun to spend an entire weekend drinking and having to go to work with a hang over with little to no memory of how I got it. I was tired going out with friends and coming home alone. I was yearning for a better, more fulfilling life to replace the one I had adopted. But I didn’t know how to get out of that lifestyle. I had grown up in a Christian family, but I had no relationship with Christ. I knew the story of the prodigal son, I had heard about how forgiving God was. But I convinced myself that there was no way God could forgive me. After all, I had blatantly done almost everything He commands His children not to do. I was tired and hurting, but I had no idea how to change things and I was afraid to turn to God because I was afraid of rejection. I had given up hope.
Still, something – Someone – led me to church one Sabbath. I’m not sure if the speaker said the words, or if they had come from God Himself. The message that came to me was in the form of a single sentence:
“When you feel that God is too far away to hear you, that’s when He’s the closest; and He’s waiting for you to reach out to Him.”
I decided to rededicate my life to God that day. Since then, I’ve had my moments of weakness and doubt. I’ve had times when I questioned if God really exists. But God has strategically placed witnesses in my life to encourage me and help me to build my faith. For the past three years, I have selfishly soaked up the blessings of developing a relationship with Christ – blessings that go above and beyond the ones He had already bestowed upon me.
One day, during my devotion, I read Luke 22:31, 32. And I was convicted of the need to contribute to the work of bringing souls closer to the God who loves them. It was my desire to help someone learn of the One who couldn’t love them more, no matter how good they become, and won’t love them any less no matter how much wrong they do. Because it was my desire, I prayed and asked God to show me my purpose and what I can do. He answered my prayer almost automatically. “Start a blog.” And here we are.
It is my prayer that anyone and everyone reading this blog will receive a blessing, regardless of where you are in your walk with God.