I have a few major turning points in my life that God has used to make me the person I am now. First, though, I’ll give you a little background.
I grew up in a Christian home; both parents are bible believing, followers of Jesus. Did this make me a Christian? No. What it did do, however, was gave me a good and safe place to ask questions, and have a basic understanding of scripture.
My Mom led me through the sinner’s prayer when I was six or seven – I don’t recall the date specifically. I don’t actually count this as my start as a Christian. I am a firm believer in “the age of understanding,” which, in a broad sense means, that if I don’t have a grasp on it, or a choice in it, I likely won’t live by it or believe it. Not that I was a rotten child (although I’m sure my parents could tell some interesting stories…but we’ll leave that for another time). Now, I will say that, at the time, I believed I was a Christian, but had no basis for my belief, and my understanding was not there. However, I do believe that God did offer me a “degree of light” in understanding who He is, and what He is.
In late 2003, I got quite sick with a pilonidal cyst, which is really nasty (I won’t go into details, but you can Google it if you want). These usually have to be drained (surgery), and they heal up in about 3 months. I want to emphasize that this sort of cyst is not easy to live with (pain and comfort -wise), not so you pity me, but so you can understand the full situation. I can tell you, when something like this happens, it changes your life. I prayed like I’ve never prayed before, and you know what – 3 months went by, and I was not completely healed. In fact, I was still just as bad as I was right after my first surgery. I called out to God, “Why am I still like this?” and “Why don’t You care about me?” About 5 months went by, and my surgeon said that he couldn’t treat me anymore and that I’d have to see another surgeon at another hospital. This is coming from the top surgeon at the hospital, so you can imagine how scared I was. I go to this other doctor, we have multiple surgeries, and he can’t figure out the problem. In fact, he is so puzzled that he decides, after a year of trying to figure out the problem, that I should have surgery for an loop-ileostomy (also Google this if you are curious), which is a life changing surgery. By life changing, I mean life changing, not just “I’m out of commission for a while,” I mean “I’m 16, and I don’t think I can handle this” sort of life changing. I put that off for a while, but eventually, it was inevitable.
I still have an open wound from the cyst, and I still have the ileostomy – it has almost been six years now. I bet at this point, you’re wondering how that leads me to God. Most people who didn’t make a commitment to God would definitely shut the door entirely after experiences like that, with freakish pain, embarrassment, unconditional humility, and a complete feeling of detachment from my peers and even my family – a complete loneliness that I couldn’t even describe.
All I can say is, God is good. “But how, Alex, how can God be good, but allow you to suffer?” you may ask.
I have met people who hate God, having gone through similar situations to myself. God has honoured my childhood commitment to Him, even though I didn’t understand what I believed; He still loved me. Through my pain, anguish, and humiliation, when I prayed “God, HELP ME!,” He didn’t take me from the situation and place me in perfection, but He did give me just enough strength to get through each step. When I finished that step, He gave me just a little more strength to take the next. There were no easy steps, but God was right with me the whole time, and still remains. I praise Him, if for nothing else, for the fact that He stood by me when I needed Him, and never left me, even when I decided to ignore Him for a while. I couldn’t get away from Him, and His love persisted in my life, and has to this day.
In April, 2008, I told God that I didn’t want to live without Him, and I committed my life to Him, and was baptized in public (with both Christian and non-Christian friends), as a testimony to what God has been doing in my life, and what I want Him to do.
God is Awesome, Holy, Righteous, and Healing. I have not yet experienced His physical healing, but He has brought me out of sin to live in His Righteousness. I am not perfect, I am not above anyone, but I rely on my God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, for His continual renewing in my life.
It doesn’t end there, though. God wants to be in relationship with you, too. I encourage you to call out to Him, and say, God, reveal yourself to me, I want to know you. God will reveal Himself to those who want to see Him.
If you don’t know how to pray, don’t worry. There is no special formula that makes God listen – just be genuine. Say in your mind, or whisper to God, or even shout because God is mighty to save, and He is listening, just waiting for you to call out to Him. If you don’t know what to say, just call out His name, and He will know your heart.
For those who do not know God as their personal savior, I hope this has at least challenged your thinking or encouraged you towards God, and for those that already are in relationship with God, I hope this has been a blessing and a praise for you.