My Testimony

“Can I go to heaven, too?” I asked.

My four-year-old response to the tragic death of a little boy in our church startled my mother. 

But she grabbed the opportunity to explain to me that Christ died in my place so I could go there, too.That night, I prayed to receive Christ as my Savior. Although I wanted to go to heaven right then, the Lord had other plans for my life.

My eager response to spiritual things as a child continued. From a young age, the Lord gave me a love for Himself and His Word. I loved Bible stories, songs, and church. I wanted to be good, and I was good at being good. But I had much to learn.

As I grew, I learned that the Lord had been the Author of my faith in the past, and He will be the Finisher of my faith in the future. But I lived as though the time in-between depended on me. I often imagined Him standing at the finish line, cheering me on in my good-girl behavior.

That’s the way I lived my life—until the Lord brought me to a very important turning point.

At 27, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and life dramatically changed. I lost my independence, my career, and the ability to be strong—both physically and spiritually. Life came to a screeching halt, and I felt shelved and useless. Gradually, everything I had been good at became more difficult, including the Christian life. I had lived in my own strength, and it was no longer enough.

At my initial diagnosis, the physical weakness was so severe, I spent hours in bed. I spent many of those hours reading the Bible and biographies of godly men and women of faith. As I read, truth began to unfold in a way I had never stopped long enough to fully grasp. I realized that Christ wasn’t cheering me on in my good-girl behavior. He was still authoring my faith.

One night, as I lay there, I asked myself for an honest answer to the question, “If you were to die from all this, how do you know you’re going to heaven?” My first response was an inward look at what I could bring to the equation—a lifetime of good-girl behavior, a love for God’s Word, and two earned Bible degrees. My focus had turned from Christ and fixed itself on these sand-like foundations.

Suddenly the words of Philippians 3:8-9 rang clear and personal. Like Paul, who had “suffered the loss of all things,” I knew the reason for the loss was to be “found in him, not having mine own righteousness, . . . but . . . the righteousness which is of God by faith.”

All my life I was taught that not one person can step into the courts of heaven unless he is clothed with the righteousness of Somebody Else. But that night, the Lord impressed this truth deeply on my heart. Like Hudson Taylor overwhelmed by Christ’s words, “It is finished,” I gained the “joyful conviction . . . that there was nothing in the world to be done but to fall on one’s knees and . . . praise Him forevermore”  (Growth of a Soul, Religious Tract Society).

Though I basked in this fuller understanding of my position in Christ, the Christian life didn’t become any easier. I’d try and fail. I would try harder and fail more miserably. I stopped trying in hopes that He would just live His life through me. Life had been hard, and I was tired of trying. I was discovering that apart from Him I could do nothing (John 15:5). I couldn’t live the Christian life in my own strength.

Again, I was at the end of myself. And, again, the Lord opened my eyes to His sufficiency. Christ wasn’t standing at the finish line, as I was still imagining Him to be. He was a living reality in my daily life. The Lord showed me that unless I’m depending on Him, I am nothing. “Be nothing,” a Puritan once wrote, “but a capacity for Christ to live in” (Watson, “How to Die to Self,” Chapel Library).

I am learning daily that His life in me is my only hope for living the Christian life. I not only need His work on the cross and His robe of righteousness, but I need to “know him and the power of his resurrection” (Phil. 3:20).

As the hymn writer said, “Whate’er my God ordains is right” (Rodigast, Trinity Hymnal, Great Commission Publications). But I couldn’t believe He had brought me this far only to keep me on a shelf. He taught me much on that shelf, but did He have other plans for my life?

Years of sickness along with the assurance I would be there only strengthened my desire to go to heaven. I began to imagine what it will be like. Everyone will rejoice in the knowledge of God. Every relationship will be complete and joyful. But not one person will need to be encouraged in the Lord. No one will need to be reminded of God’s truth or taught something he doesn’t know.

I realized that this life is the only opportunity to remind one another of the incredible truths of God. The Spirit began to impress these words on my heart as if they were etched in Scripture with only my name attached: “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord” (Ps. 118:17).

My health began to improve, and, little by little, I was given opportunities to declare His works.

I was asked to lead a women’s Bible study at my church. Devotional websites began publishing my work. I found myself being given opportunities to speak. 

The Lord was calling me to be a voice for Him in small but important arenas. First, He showed me I couldn’t. Then, He gave me the desire anyway. He convinced my heart that He would do the work through me, and He shows me continually that His strength is sufficient.

Though my health is stable, God gifted me with a chronic reminder that my strength is not enough. I could never hope for eternity, live for Him today, or serve Him effectively on my own. Every day is a lesson in knowing Him and the “power of his resurrection” (Phil. 3:10). He took someone who thought she was strong and showed her she was weak. Daily, He proves to me that out of weakness He makes strong—a strength made perfect in weakness (Heb. 11:34; II Cor. 12:9).

Reprinted by permission of The Incorporated Trustees

            of the Gospel Worker Society, Union Gospel Press,

            P.O. Box 6059, Cleveland, Ohio 44101.

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