Thursday, August 21, 2014

A short testimony - God's story in my life

Dear Reader
One of our tasks at Bible School, this year, is to write out a short personal testimony.  This is my first attempt. It may still be too long ... but I can work with that.  If you have any comments, or would like to share your own story (in the comments section below) I would feel truly blessed.  
May God bless you as you read His story in my life.


The beauty of being human is that we are all unique. Psalm 139 explains this uniqueness – we are fearfully and wonderfully made; known by God intimately; a precious creation that He knew long before our actual birth into this world.  Yet, because of this imperfect world, many of us live with lifelong afflictions.

In my case, I have lived with the affliction of Depression all my life. One can try and analyse it, pull it apart and make judgement, but it is an illness like any other – a silent killer.  Despite medication and the professional help I get, it is something that lives with me daily – urging me into its vice-like grip. I am aware of my vulnerability in this affliction.  It can be very dangerous ground. My affliction is manifest in a deep-seated loneliness; a loneliness that no human action can fill.

In the early 1990’s, I was a ‘stay-at-home’ Mom with two small children. The demands on my life were immense as I tried to become ‘Supermom’ – mistakenly giving all my energy and everything I had to these two precious human beings which had been entrusted to me by God. Life was busy. I chose to ignore the nibbling depression and loneliness – choosing to rather fill my day with every earthly activity which could enhance my life as a mother. 

To this end I stopped going to church. Life was very difficult and I was angry at God for making it so difficult.  But, I was extremely fit and I was fighting – teaching aerobics; baking, playing the piano, involving myself at school, sewing for my children, knitting, gardening, housework – all in an attempt to create the perfect home.

The more involved I got in these activities, the more my deep seated loneliness and depression escalated.  I was slowly and systematically side-lining the importance of God in my life.  My trust in Him had waned. But as I applied myself to earthly matters, I felt the control of my life slipping away.  It got worse and worse, and I began to become more and more aware of the pointlessness of it all.  (Something like King Solomon’s text in Ecclesiastes – ‘Meaningless!’)

In desperation, I began to look around – particularly at committed Christians who seemingly had everything under control.  My neighbours were such people.

At my lowest point, I made the decision to simply try copying them.  Perhaps then, my life with my elusive God would repair itself.  I (and my family) began to go to church regularly, we joined a fellowship group and I began read my bible regularly (and take notes), praying that God would speak to me and come into my life in a real way.

One Sunday morning, I was sitting in church. The minister was telling us this story...

"A high-powered preacher was at a busy, demanding conference.  A woman came up to him and told him that she had a ‘message from God’ for him. She asked for a meeting. Due to time pressure, the Preacher put her off. Finally, however, he managed to make a moment to meet her.  They met in one of the gardens.

She walked up to him slowly, sat down and dissolved  into tears.  She cried and cried, morphing into wretching sobs – her face contorted in emotional pain. Finally the tears stopped and the Preacher was able to speak to her. “What is the message you have for me from God?” he asked. She wiped her nose, looked straight at him and said, 

“That is it!”

It was in that moment, that the preacher realised the pain that he, personally, had caused God – demonstrated in the woman’s tears – of the reliance he had put on himself in trying to control his own busy life.
Just like me!

Ironically, this story reflected the emotional pain I was causing God at the time by my insistence on doing it myself.  I was basically shunning the gift of God, in the form of Jesus Christ. My eyes were opened that morning and I understood clearly what pain I was causing God by trying to ‘go-it-alone’.  I too began to sob and sob.  In that moment, I finally relinquished control of the responsibility of life to God. I knew there was no other way.  I prayed hard that He would forgive all the hurt that I had caused Him and those around me. I asked him to take control over my life. That moment was an internal act of extreme vulnerability and submission to the God of Life.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matt 11:28)

In the days that followed, a deep calm came over me.  I began to practice the presence of Jesus – inviting him into every decision I made in my day-to-day activities; trying to show, by my activities, the joy and the hope I had in my salvation.  My journal at home attests to answered prayer and guidance in my life.

To say the least, a lot has happened since that day – profound things which testify to the greatness and glory of God.

My affliction remains – I continue to suffer from depression.  The difference is that I am comfortable, in God.  The change in me is that I now speak openly about my affliction. “My sin” is not the disease itself, but rather me trying to manage my life without God.

Last year, I made the decision that it was time to get baptised – an outward reflection of my inner condition. I am human; a sinner who continues to juggle how much I allow God to control my activities and my life.  The reality, however, is that without God’s direction, my depression and my affliction can get the better of me.  In my weakness, I am forced to rely on God’s saving grace – daily.  I absorb all the love He has to offer me and I try and communicate that same love to other sufferers
If I leave you with any message, it is this alone – the message I received at my baptism –

“God has got it!”  

He really has!  He has full control over our lives and their outcome – whether we like it or not. We still have a choice however:  We either accept His saving grace (daily) and the abundant life He has to offer us, or we succumb to our afflictions and ‘go-it-alone’. Either way, He'll never leave us.  He's there - standing next to us - asking us to trust Him.

Praise God that I continue to make the right choice every day.