When I was growing up, I was a naughty and very active
child. Despite my energy, I did not
really have any close friends. Back then,
I dreamed of one day going to a prestigious university, like my parents, and
getting the best grades possible. I probably thought, unconsciously, that if I
made it to a prestigious and a good university, I would then be able to get a
job that would pay me a lot of money, and thus I would win friends and
Indeed, I worked very hard in school and got decent
grades. However, I really didn’t have
passion for the content of what I studied; I just wanted to do well to please
my parents and also to be “the
I wanted to be respected and
valued. In retrospect, getting good grades at school became a sort of idol for
me. I worshipped the god of achievement,
and without it, I reasoned that I was worthless.
Then, when I was sixteen years old, I struggled through
several classes. I no longer got the grades I wanted or needed. I was even in
danger of failing a class. One of my teachers even said in so many words that
he didn’t believe I would ever amount to much in this life, probably partly due
to the fact I wasn’t doing so well in his class. I also lacked peer support. In
fact, no one in my class dared to counter what that teacher said to me. I also
I felt my family could not relate to the turmoil inside me, as they seemed to
be living a different life. In fact, in
a journal entry from April 1999, I had written, “I wish I could be more […]
effervescent (lively). I feel dead without being physically killed. I hope I
don’t die emotionally, but I am dying. If I could only find that zest, that
greatness life is supposed to hold. But where is it, at least in me?” I was so
depressed that I wanted an escape, maybe to even end my life.
However, several months later, God saved me from that. Fast forward a few years later, I went to
college, but not at a prestigious university which I had dreamed. After I graduated, I tried to look for work
in my field of study, but to no avail.
After that, I finally found a part-time job in retail.
There, I learned many customer service skills and other people skills I needed
to succeed. I did well there, but after
a while, I felt God calling me to somewhere else—a place where I never
thought I’d end up. It was during that
time, that God was preparing me for a new life, where He would give me more
than I could have ever dreamed.
I was so excited when I got an interview at one of the local
bookstores near where I lived! I had always dreamed of working in a
bookstore! I loved books, and the
workers there seemed nice. However, the
day of the interview, I quickly found out that I wasn’t the right fit. At this point, I didn’t think I would get
another job opportunity any time soon. The search went on.
Then, one, cold wintry day on February 25, 2016, I went with
my mom to the store I now work to buy a few things. What I did not know was that trip would
change my life forever.
I asked the HR representative the status of my resume, and
after that she offered me to interview at 1 pm.
Since I didn’t have adequate time to prepare or change into more formal
attire, my mom and I ate lunch at the mall nearby, and then I went back to the
store to get interviewed. When I got
interviewed, I was so nervous and stuttering over my words, that I thought
surely they wouldn’t accept me. To my surprise, I got a job offer! I waited
until the next day to accept, after I sought counsel from my family. On March 10, I officially started at my
Meanwhile, many people were leaving my now-former church. I
loved that church, but inside there were so many changes that it rocked the
congregation. About half of the congregation left or were in the process of
leaving. At about the same period of
time, my brother told my parents and me that he was going to go to school in
Texas to get his Master’s degree. What I
didn’t know then was my brother was going to live there permanently.
I felt, except for my new job, that my dreams were going to
be shattered all over again. I would
either have to accept the changes at my now-former church or find somewhere
different to worship. Not going to church wasn’t even an option for me. I would also have to adjust to life without some of the support of my brother.
My brother left for Texas in August 2016. The day he left,
the house felt hollow and quiet. The basement that used to be full of my
brother’s stuff was now almost bare, but habitable again. My dad went with my brother to help him move.
My mom and I remained at home. I felt numb and solemn that day. My heart felt
like there was something missing—the void where my brother’s physical
presence radiated my life.
Then, in mid-October, I said goodbye to the church that I
had been attending for about ten years.
It was very hard, as I had established so many friendships there, and
these people were like a second family to me.
Before I left to visit a church nearby, I was in tears, as I said
goodbye to some of the congregants.
However, there was a very bright spot, in the midst of all
the goodbyes, a month before I left my now-former church.
In September, I was working the swing shift, and one of my
managers, Hope* was closing with me. She
was complimenting me about my performance that day. Since I was still
part-time, I told her, “I am thinking of becoming full-time. However, Chris*,
my manager, said I should wait a while. I was wondering how long I should
wait.” Then, Hope replied, “You shouldn’t have to wait. You deserve
full-time.” Later on, or the next day,
she put me in for full-time. Later, Chris also approved my full- time status. I
was ecstatic! Because of all the
challenges that I had to face, I never dreamed I would ever get a full time job
in my life!
A month later, after I had left my former church, I visited
another church. It had many more people
than the one I had previously visited. A
friendly couple greeted me and I sat by them.
Even the pastors were friendly. The sermon that day was very
thought-provoking and relatable to what I was going through in my life. I
didn’t know yet if this was going to be my new home church, but I liked their
genuineness and their devotion to the Word of God, so I kept going. In August
of the next year, I officially became a member of my current church. Through my church, I have learned how to have
an engaging quiet time with God, how to view life more positively and
differently than most of the rest of the world, and how to forgive people who
have hurt you deeply.
God’s Perfect Plan
No, I never got the six figure salary I had dreamed of, nor
did I get into a prestigious college. However, I have been blessed with more
than I could have ever dreamed. Through my church family and people at work, I
have gained a strong support system. Also, I am still in touch with several
people from my old church, who I still consider good friends, even though they
live very far away from where I am now. Through the tough situations I find myself in
at work, God has used those to strengthen and shape my character into His. Through church, I continue to train to be
able to share the love and hope that I found in life through God and His
gracious plans for me. Yes, I still have
bad days, but overall, I have found more joy and satisfaction during these past
two years, than at any other time in my life. God has certainly blessed me with
more than I could ever dream!
everyone who believed in the potential of a woman with ordinary dreams
One day, at work with two other of her
colleagues, chatting over their childhoods during break, a woman– the one with
ordinary dreams, said, “When I was growing up, I was naughty, and I didn’t have
many friends. One of my peers even said, ‘You are a very difficult person to
get along with’.”
Neither of her colleagues believed her.
But it was all too true.
About 25 years earlier, because of her
disability and other differences, the woman with ordinary dreams was never
taken seriously, regularly taken advantage of by peers, and was often chosen
last for team sports in gym class and class projects. No one really wanted to
look into her soul and get to know her. She was too selfish, rigid, and
difficult; they reasoned.
Ten years later, she became a bit easier to
deal with, but had a paranoia and bitter pain in her soul. She really felt she
couldn’t trust, much less open up to, anyone. Never had this girl thought she’d
ever really be valued in anyone’s eyes. Confirming this despair, one of her
teachers had said in so many condemning, angry words that she would probably
not amount to much in life, and she believed this for fifteen long years. The
week this teacher told her this, this girl with ordinary dreams– one of which
was to be accepted and loved for who she was– , saw that dream shatter before
her eyes. She reasoned if she would never really be loved for who she was, even
to her hurting soul, life was no longer worth it.
Thus, she contemplated suicide, but then God
rescued her from self- destruction and despair.
The woman with ordinary dreams meets her
mentor who would change her life forever because her mentor believed in her
potential and the value of her soul. The mentor keeps prodding and helping the
woman until she lands a job in which she can actually succeed. The mentor also
helps her gain confidence in herself and believe in her dreams again. Even to
her dream of one day becoming a writer
and getting a full- time job somewhere, the mentor never ridiculed or
dismissed, but actively helps the woman fulfill them.
The woman with ordinary dreams senses God
leading her to a new job, since a previous one no longer fit into her expansive
dreams. The woman, with dreams of being a writer and being loved, is stoked
about getting an interview at a bookstore, which she considers her “dream” job
that would lead her to be able to write someday . However, during the actual
interview, it was made clear to her that this was not the job God had for her.
Her dreams are shattered once again.
However, she does not give up. Going into a
store, which she applied for, to buy a few things, she suddenly hears a voice in her soul that told her to ask
about the application. She does and, subsequently gets an interview. The
interviewer, she finds out later, was going to be her manager!
That manager is the hardest worker she has
ever seen in her life! While preparing the logistics for the interview and
afterwards, she sees the manager also stocking items in the area he manages, or
The woman is shocked to find out that she has
been accepted for the job–and happy as well.
However, she doesn’t know then, that God would use that job to fulfill
her ordinary dreams of being loved and also becoming full-time.
That woman was me.
This month marks three years with my current job. It may not seem like much, but considering I’ve not had many jobs where I was in one company that long, it is only by God’s grace, my mentor J, Chris*, Elizabeth *, and countless others who believed I could be of value to them, that I was able to make it this far. My wonderful co- workers and managers in #1401 have taught me so much. I aspire to be like my mentor J, who never gave up on me and who valued me. I aspire to be like Chris, whose work ethic and dedication to his associates is a model for me to follow. I aspire to be like Elizabeth, who always believed in her associates’ potentials and encouraged them to reach for the stars. She encouraged me to learn to cashier when others seemed more reluctant to take me on, and satisfied my curiosity to learn new skills and to try my best always. I aspire to be like Hope*, who first offered me full- time and encouraged me to strive for excellence.
Thank you everyone at #1401 who helped me get
to where I am today. Today, I am able to realize my ordinary dreams, all
because you believed in me.
*= names changed for privacy of the
As you may recall in my previous posts, in 2016, I went
through some of the toughest and most drastic changes in my life. 2016 was when
I got my current job. It was also the year my brother moved away, and I started
to attend my current church, after having been at my previous one for ten
years! Here I am, three years later, and
am about to undergo, and have undergone even more changes in my life! First of all, at church, we are in a period
of transition, where we will soon be getting a new pastor, as my current senior
pastor will be stepping down after 40 plus years of service to our church. Second of all, there have been so many
changes that have been occurring at my job that I couldn’t keep track of them
all unless I really thought about it! Finally, there are some other personal
changes that I have been going through or will be going through that will have
a great impact on my life. Even in these various changes going on in my life,
God is still teaching me so much, that can be not only applied to me in the
situations I find myself in, but also to everyone else, in their life
The first thing I am learning is to not waste time because
time is fleeting. In the past, when I thought I had a lot of time, I had more
of a temptation to waste time, because I thought that I still had a lot
left. I thought that if I saved certain
tasks for later (i.e procrastinate on some things), that I would have something
to occupy me later so that I wouldn’t get bored. For instance, if I wanted to enjoy watching a
certain movie, I would save it for a time “when I really got bored” so I would
have something to do later. While it is
good to be able to delay gratification sometimes, I am learning more and more
that I shouldn’t wait to enjoy life while there is still time, because there
may not be a later. Also, something that
I have been learning and that I really, really regret, is that I never really
said everything that I needed to that was on my heart to those people I loved,
and now some of them are leaving. For instance, my current pastor is leaving
after 40 plus years of service in our church, and I have only been attending
for less than three years. I regret that I did not really get to know how
amazing my pastor is as a person and as a pastor, because I never really spent
much time with him or his wife. From now on, I will strive to make time for the
people that matter the most to me. Instead of spending hours stressing about
work or surfing mindlessly online, I will strive to spend more time with those
I love and like. I also strive to not be
afraid to say the things that I need to say to those I love and/or admire the
most. I had been afraid to say some of the “nice” things too, because I didn’t
want to sound “fake” or too “mushy.” However, now I realize that since it is
from my heart, I am not being fake or mushy.
So, is there something on you hear that you would like to tell your
loved ones or friends? Don’t wait until it is too late to tell them how much
they mean to you. You may never get another opportunity to say what you need to
The second thing I am learning is to stop worrying about the
future and trust God. When I first underwent some of these changes, I admit I
had a worrisome “What-if” mentality in my head. Since I didn’t know exactly how
these changes would impact my life, I assumed the worst, and that made me
miserable and cranky. However, through
the message that my next pastor was preaching yesterday, I learned that I need
to let go of the worry and the possible “What-if” scenarios that may or may not
play out, and just trust the process.
For instance, one of the changes at my work is to my schedule. I was
content with working mornings, but now they want most people to work second
shift, including me. I was initially
worried that this change would stress me out to breakdown point, and I even
tried to fight it a little bit. However, God showed me, in the sovereignty He
had over the events of my life, that this change was from Him. I learned from God through that message
yesterday that when I entrusted the situation to Him, that He would give me the
strength and the resources I needed to get through the change in my life, and
indeed He has! When we worry about the future, we don’t allow God to work to
change us so we can successfully adjust later on. We get stuck in the past and “What-if”
scenarios, and we waste time worrying, instead of asking God to help us get
Finally, I am learning that God’s presence and guidance will
help me through the transitions in my life.
This year, I am striving to let God have control of my life and not to
“help” Him through the situations in my life.
In fact, the more I try to control certain things in my life, the more
chaotic and destructive my life often becomes!
However, when I relax and not let my anxiety and my desire for control
take over me, as I let go and allow God to work through me, I find that I am
much more calm and able to do His will. Often when I try to fight the changes
in my life, the more apparent the changes become! This also happens when I am
trying to escape a situation or a person. For instance, if God wanted a person
to be in my life, but I didn’t want the person in my life for whatever reason,
God would make it so that I would see the person more often! However, when I
just tried to deal with that person in a godly manner, the situation either
became better or that person that was bothering me in my life would finally
Even in the changes of my life, I am comforted by the fact
that God never changes, and that He will continue to teach me valuable life
lessons as I am being shaped into His image.
I am learning to use my time more wisely and more intentionally for the
people that I have been called by God to minister. I am learning to be less anxious about change,
and to trust that God will bring me through all these transitions. God is still working in our lives, even
through change. The question is, will we continue to let Him?
Along my blogging journey, I have met some amazing people that have encouraged and inspired my own as well. One of these people is R. Christian Bohlen, who has quite an extraordinary testimony of how he came to know God, through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
R. Christian Bohlen has been
involved in ministry and church leadership for over thirty years, including
oversight of a prison ministry program in central PA. He holds an M.S. degree
in communications and has received multiple personal and team awards as a human
performance improvement consultant, instructional designer, and program manager
to Fortune 500 companies throughout the United States and Canada.
His prior work with juvenile offenders and his own
family’s trauma due to mental health issues instilled a commitment to somehow
help those who need it most to find comfort in Christ. For over twenty years,
he has labored to simplify and clarify the beauties of the life of Jesus Christ
for everyone, regardless of background or knowledge of the scriptures. In 2018,
he launched Christ on the Inside
prison and addiction recovery ministry with the goal of making easy-to-read
books about the life of Jesus available at no cost (and no profit to anyone).
My Conversion Story
I’ve devoted over 20 years to
writing a book about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, mostly because of
the remarkable and unforgettable way Christ kept pursuing me and not giving up
In my 20’s, the confusion of trying
to find my way to God was torturous—in spite of my sincerest efforts.
Finally “finding Christ”
brought the peace and clarity I was looking for, but it certainly wasn’t like
walking into a door labeled Nirvana and then thinking, “Ahh!
It’s all good now.”
There was a process that gradually
filled me with light—triggered by one key insight and the most difficult
decision of my entire life.
Up in Light and Truth
I was raised by faith-filled parents
in a gospel-centered home. It was an idyllic setting. A family with father,
mother, three children and a large community with kids everywhere, bordered by
the dense forests of northwest Pennsylvania where we played and fantasized.
Attending church every Sunday was a
given. Family prayer was routine and sincere and our home had a spirit of
meekness, love, and obedience to God.
As a child and teenager, the other members of our small church family were important influences on me. The older members of our congregation had the Spirit of God with them when they spoke. Their kind and patient ways were noticeably different than the world around me, showing a “peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:2).
I was taught many stories from the
scriptures. These often touched me and, looking back, I sensed that they were
true. I felt good when I read the scriptures myself, although I typically had
better things to do and simply didn’t bother.
I didn’t pray on my own. I didn’t disbelieve
that there was a God but I didn’t really believe it. And I certainly didn’t
feel his love, nor did I ever feel what I would call love for God either.
Sayings like “God loves you” just bounced off. “Everybody knows
that,” I would think to myself.
But I didn’t know it.
Gift to the Undeserving
Maybe you can relate to what I’m
about to share. Maybe in some way, God touched you whether you deserved it or
whether you were seeking him or not. Maybe, at the time, you didn’t recognize
it as such.
God reached down to me powerfully
twice when I was a teenager.
One day in church, after watching an
inspiring video about some story in the scriptures, I recall walking into the
hallway feeling touched and uplifted. I paused in front of a bulletin
board and looked at a picture of Christ surrounded by people in
old-fashioned clothes like the ancients might wear.
A pure spiritual light of
understanding entered my whole being as I stared at Christ in the center
of this picture. I wasn’t consciously trying to think of anything. It just hit
I comprehended that Christ was God,
the unchangeable God of the universe. I mean, I knew it and I understood
it. I comprehended that the trends and fashions and ideas of men will come and
go, but the wisdom and supremacy of God are unchanging. It was obvious why some
people were bent down in an attitude of worship. This insight was a gift
of spiritual light that filled me mercifully, with no effort of my own.
This gift entered my soul at a time
that I was behaviorally in rebellion against God and was giving him no thought
whatsoever. It was pure grace.
The next day I was supposed to meet
someone new—a large scale drug dealer—to buy a sheet of acid (meaning, a large
volume of LSD doses intended for distribution and sale). This was only one of
several drugs I was involved with. Getting caught selling hard drugs would have
changed the course of my life with a minimum of many months in a juvenile jail
and all that comes with entering the “system,” the stigma, and
dashing my parents’ hearts.
I stood there nearly in shock.
“What am I doing to my life? How can I do this tomorrow?” But I had
been panged by remorse before and it had only lasted a day or two and I went
right back into my double life.
Nevertheless, I never met with that
person. I don’t recall why. And I never pursued it again.
Unforgettable Witness of Christ
A few months after that incident, I
was getting ready to head out for college. I had been taught many times that
there are a few important crossroads in life that we’d better pay attention to
and make the right move: going to college, getting married, those kinds of
I recognized this as a chance to
reprioritize my life. So, I sought out one of our pastors for counsel and
began making small steps to get ready for a big change. Like the Parable
of the Lost Son, I was trying to leave the “wild living” behind and
trying to head back to the house of my Father (Luke 15:11-32, NIV).
This pastor asked my friend and me
to sing a duet during our last Sunday in church before leaving for college.
“Sure, no problem,” I answered. I didn’t think much about it.
The song was, “Abide with
There we stood in front of the small
congregation that we knew so well. My friend and I had decent voices and had
practiced a time or two and I wasn’t too worried about it.
But the strangest thing happened.
The sounds of the hymn became hauntingly beautiful, moving me to a different
place. I was filled with the sound of the notes as the words became crystal
clear on the page and full of significance:
other helpers fail and comforts flee, Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.”
Suddenly, I couldn’t see well. The
words blurred as water filled my eyes. To my teenage horror, I was crying, on
stage in front of everyone.
But I couldn’t stop. Just like
before, the light that filled me was sweet and clear and so satisfying. It was
worth more than anything. I just kept reading and listening to the surreal
At that moment, I understood the
character of Jesus: the help of the helpless. The compassionate one who cares
when nobody else does.
The revelation continued, flowing
pure and sweet into my mind and heart. Again, I understood that God was the
supreme, unchangeable being—more important than any earthly thing. I tried to
sing but could only read the words and listen as my friend sung his part. He
kept looking at me like, “Whoa, what is goin’ on here?”
joys grow dim, its glories pass away; Change and decay in all around I see— O Thou who changest not, abide with me.”
It all made perfect sense. I was
comprehending the character of Christ, “who changest not,” and for
some reason he chose to “abide with me,” on that stage, in front of
the entire congregation.
Forward to Near Madness
Within one week of this precious
gift I was back to “wild living.”
I didn’t realize it but I was an
I’m not going to recount my entire life story here, but suffice it to say that my life went back and forth between long periods of no drug abuse with sincere strivings to live a godly life and occasional relapses.
My feelings regarding the goodness
of the gospel were real but I lacked the faith and understanding to truly live
the gospel of Jesus Christ. I had no real foundation.
At one point in 1983, I reached a
crisis of sorts. My efforts to live the gospel and keep the commandments of God
were not working. I was intensely miserable and confused. I decided the only way
to get past it was to start over again: forget everything I knew about God,
religion, and just follow my heart, make the best decisions I could, and see
where that would lead me. I didn’t know what else to do!
I stopped going to church and
stopped “keeping the commandments of God,” as such, although that
doesn’t mean my life turned into a hedonist free-for-all either. I treated
people decently, didn’t party, and did a lot of thinking.
“How could this happen?” I
often thought. “I had really tried to change my life. I tried to follow
God and ‘follow the rules.'”
After a year or so of this, I
suddenly became despondent. I was scared, in fact, at how gloomy and hopeless I
felt. I feared that I was losing my sanity and thought about taking my life to
I can still remember where I was
sitting and staring at the floor in this unstable, panicked state with no idea
of what to do.
A thought came to me: “Go see
Bob was a good friend, a former
spiritual advisor, and a man that I simply trusted. I felt a tiny bit of hope
and decided to do it.
Our conversation was intense and his
love for me was palpable and comforting. He said I was “hanging by a
thread,” which I felt was a truthful statement and didn’t take it as an
insult at all.
“You are in Satan’s
power,” he said, “and you need to cast him out.”
Hmm… Okay, so this was kind of
dramatic and not what I expected. A little crazy, to be honest. “Me? I’m a
pretty nice guy,” I thought. “I’m not like a Satanic dude or
anything.” I started to pull back from Bob.
“I want you to tell Satan to
leave you,” Bob said.
“Huh? How?” I asked.
“Say, ‘Satan. In the name of
Jesus Christ, I command you to leave me,'” Bob instructed.
I probably just sat and looked at
him. I don’t remember. But I do remember being frightened and feeling very
unstable. Not evil, but very confused and unhappy.
“Oh, great,” I
thought. “Me. Possessed.”
Could it be true? As crazy as it
sounded, I opened my mind that it might be true. I had a tiny, new hope.
As we parted that day, he hugged me
and just wept and wept and wept. I sensed that it was the love of God reaching
through him in hope and celebration for my willingness to try.
Reality of Satan
Writing this now, in 2018, I’m sure
that most people have not and will not ever experience what I’m about to
describe. But it was a reality for me and what I felt and experienced was
I learned what constitutes light as
I truly witnessed darkness.
I went home and awkwardly explained
to my mother what was happening to me and what Bob counseled me to do. I have
no idea how I broached the topic with her but somehow my mother and I sat side
by side on a couch and I decided to do what Bob advised.
I opened my mouth and verbally
commanded Satan to leave me in the name of Jesus Christ using the words above.
Within seconds, I felt a terrifying,
dark force pull away from me. The best I can explain it is that I knew it had
been enmeshed with me and now it was just a “few inches” outside of
me. It was menacing and extremely angry at what was happening and by no means
intending to stay outside of me. It was waiting for me to lose focus and come
But now I knew there was
“me” and there was “it” and I could distinguish the two.
I commanded Satan again. And again.
Always in the name of Jesus Christ. Over time, the line between us because
firmer and the distance greater. My peace and sense of self were forming again.
Truthfully, I had forgotten some of
these details until just a year ago when my mother said, “I sure know that
Satan is real, like when you cast him out as we were sitting together. What a
horrible feeling that was.”
From her vantage point, she had
experienced it as vividly as I had: an awful, frightening, threatening presence
in that room. I did not know (or recall) that she felt it that way until she
shared her memory of it with me last year.
In the weeks and months that
followed, I continued to tell Satan to leave me in the name of Christ, as
Two things were certain and beyond
The evil force I felt was real. Satan was an actual entity and not just a concept.
The name of Jesus Christ has real power. Satan was enmeshed with me but he could not disobey the command to leave, in Christ’s name. I had been given a tool that worked 100% of the time and that was enormously reassuring.
How Christ Found Me and Cared for Me
I’ve listed just a few episodes in
my life where Christ reached out to me to teach me, inspire me, help me
understand the truth, and save me—even when I was doing little or nothing to
seek him out.
I can’t say that I found Christ. I
prefer to say he has been watching over me all my life and finding and touching
me, according to his own wisdom and ways.
He gave me sweet and loving parents who shared their testimonies of truth lived godly lives to the best of their understanding.
He gave me the examples of other church members whose sincerity and willingness to love God first was real to me, even as a boy.
He gave me light and understanding as I read scriptures, participated in church activities, and that one eventful day in front of the bulletin board.
He gave me the freedom to make decisions and figure things out on my own but he was always watching for my return. At the first sign of turning, he ran to me like the father of the lost (prodigal) son and whispered the idea to call Bob Johnson to help me.
He kicked Satan out of my life like the mighty God of the universe that he is. All I had to do was invoke his name, which always has power.
Christ Finds and Cares for You
I know that our Christ reaches out
to every living soul on this earth in ways that are suitable to that person.
Take just a moment to reflect back
on your life. Who were the people that were good examples in your life? It
might not have been your family. What were the experiences where heavenly light
and understanding called you to something higher and helped you understand the
things of God? Maybe you appreciated it. Maybe you didn’t.
All of us have been touched and
called to something higher. Through somebody. Through a life experience.
Through the Spirit of God directly to our souls. But every living soul feels
the fingers of God reaching down. But will we take that hand?
When did you hear something or read
something that touched you? Maybe you felt an impression like, “I can do
more with my life; I can turn away from these destructive things in my
life,” or “God really is there and he wants me to listen and trust
Those inspired impressions are from
God. When we say, “I want to please God and keep feeling those good things
more than my destructive, sinful past,” we are moving toward Christ.
I Came to Christ: Believe in the Name of Jesus
My troubles weren’t over yet,
however. Confusion returned frequently because other than knowing how to get Satan’s
power to release me, I didn’t really understand what to do next.
I recall telling people, “I
feel like I have no foundation. I’m walking in quicksand. I don’t know where to
For someone who had attended church
for most of his life and had read the scriptures many times over this seems
ludicrous, looking back, but so it was. I found that there’s a difference
between knowing from the head and internalizing from the heart. But I did find
my way to Christ.
I recall a certain day when I was
staring at green, patterned carpet in a different bedroom, trying to figure out
what to do next.
Because I knew the Bible well
(meaning, I had made some good decisions in the past to invest effort and try
to learn the ways of God), a key phrase popped into my head:
is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ.” (1 John
“Just believe in the name of
Jesus Christ,” I repeated to myself. I didn’t know Jesus as a man. I
had never seen him. But I could just believe in his name. I mean really
put my whole heart into it. I could decide to trust this Jesus Christ.
“Just do it,” I recall
But oh, it was hard to do.
I had many atheist friends who
poo-pooed the idea of believing the unseen. Their faces and voices in my mind
made this a spiritually terrifying decision.
But one thing I knew for sure. I had
factual, first-hand, experiential knowledge of this: the name of Jesus Christ
has power. “So why not believe in that name,” I reasoned.
“Perhaps more good will follow?”
I then received another merciful,
beautiful insight: Into my mind’s eye came the John the Apostle and John the
Baptist. I pictured Peter and Paul. I felt them saying, “We gave our everything
to give you this knowledge. Believe it. We love you. Believe in the name of Jesus.
I felt in my heart that these dear scriptural friends were just and holy men. Real people. Worthy of my trust.
The Pivotal Decision: Jumping in
with Both Feet
Sometime in 1983, I made that great decision. I opened the faucet of belief in Jesus Christ and the water of life began to trickle into my life. I could feel the difference. What the scriptures call “salvation” was happening for the first time in my life. (See Acts 16:30-33
I often said in my mind—and still do
to this day—”I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe He was sent from the
Father. I believe He is the Messiah. I believe Jesus Christ is the very Son of
God.” These thoughts and intentions fill my heart with light and happiness
There is power in believing. We should never underestimate the power of believing on the Light of the World.
Today, I am grateful and thrilled to tell you that—praise
and thanks be to God—I am truly happy. Genuinely, deeply happy and at
I don’t want to list my blessings in order to parade them
before other people in pride and pomp, but to highlight how good God
is and continues to be, not only to me, but to all of us. Sometimes, we fall on difficult times and we
forget about the good times because we are so focused on the stressful
situation at hand. I get that, and unfortunately, I do that, too. However, I hope, with this list of blessings
(not all inclusive,
that would take literally days and weeks),
that each one of you will think about how you
have been blessed this year and how God has helped you through some tough
times, as He has to me:
I got to see my relatives this summer, some of
who I hadn’t seen in 8 years! They live very far away (as in I couldn’t even
drive there to go see them!), and I had such a great time getting to know them
and their families, as most of my cousins are married with children now. I also got to see many sites and eat
delicious food. I even travelled with
some of them to other cities within the area.
Even though some of us got sick, God really protected my family and me
from any strife and anger.
When I was faced with the prospect of spending
Christmas alone, God put in my heart to try to request off from work so that my
parents, my brother, and I could all spend Christmas together. I did, thinking
there was no harm to try even if I didn’t get the days off. I had talked with my
manager Elizabeth* about this and she said she’d let me know the next week.
Well, the next day (It was a Saturday that same week), I checked to see what
the status of my request for days off were, and they were already approved!
Immediately, I texted my brother, who bought plane tickets for us to go to
Texas. I am so happy that, as of this
writing, I will get to not only spend Christmas with my family, but also get to
see the area where my brother now lives! God is good!
I really got to know my friend Allison* this
year, and we have become close. I
realized that she and I have a lot in common, and we are able to encourage each
other and give each other hope on the tough days. I am blessed to be able to know her and I
look forward to seeing her each day at work, when we are both working.
My manager Elizabeth*, not only gave me the days
off that I wanted, but also has helped and mentored me to become a better
associate and person. She also has
encouraged me not to be so self-deprecating (as I am quite the perfectionist,:\
) by telling me how much she appreciated
my character and my work. She always tells me that I’m amazing, but I really
think she’s amazing, as both a manager and a person. Unfortunately, a
few weeks ago (as of this writing) was her last day at the company, but I have
been so blessed to have known her.
God sent one of my other managers, Chris,* to
save my physical life by discouraging me from working for him when there was a
snowstorm ensuing outside. I wanted to work a double shift for him because I
felt bad when there were hardly any associates to help him, since most had
called off due to the storm. However, he said that he cared about his
associates, and did not want me to have an accident due to fatigue + a
snowstorm, especially since I lived more than a few minutes from work. I ended up listening to him, and going home
at a decent time. I even had to call off the next day because the storm was so
bad. Had I worked for him and had he not
said anything to me, I don’t know if I would be alive today.
God has provided us with a new pastor when our
current one had announced that he was leaving. Though I love our current
pastor, it is clear from God that he is going to be on a different journey.
However, even through all that, our upcoming new pastor is not only familiar
with the congregants (He grew up at my current church), but it seems that he
will continue the legacy that the pastor that is leaving has worked so hard to
God has continued to use my blog and my writing
to be able to bless and encourage others. He has even provided an opportunity
for me to join a writing group in order to improve my writing skills and to
reach and minister to even more people through the lessons (or, whisperings)
that God has taught me.
These are just a few of the blessing that God has bestowed
on me, in His goodness and love, this year. How has God blessed you this year? What has He done to help
you see His love and grace in your life? Please feel free to discuss in the
*=Names changed, in order to protect the privacy of the
Everyone who has ever lived will go through at least one experience that will influence the trajectory of their lives. I am no exception. Several days ago, I was talking with some work friends about how each of us was like when we were children. I attested to them that how I am now is almost nothing like I was when I was a child! Yes, there are still a few similarities to my personality today, for I am the same person, but there has been a lot that has changed as well. The experiences that I feel changed my life the most are these:
Becoming a born-again Christian
My brother moving away
Getting my current job
If you have read my blog for very long, you know that I am a born-again believer in Christ. This event has by far influenced and changed the person I am and has given me much purpose in my life. Right before I became a Christian, I was on the brink of despair and depression. I wanted to end it all, but right at about that point, I felt God’s presence and the need to know more about Him. I started attending my childhood church, but quickly found out it wasn’t a good fit for me, and eventually found another church that more satiated my spiritual needs. In the past two years or so, I believe God led me to my current church, where I grew significantly in both knowledge and closeness to God. Being a Christian has not only helped me to overcome most of my depression, but also improved the way that I relate to others. When I was younger, I used to be very rigid and selfish. In addition, since social cues have been sometimes a challenge for me, I didn’t know what exactly I was doing wrong! This led me to feel very lonely and depressed. However, when I learned about God’s love and how to cultivate a more unselfish lifestyle, that is where I learned the value of sacrifice. Thus, God was able to bless me with great friends that I didn’t deserve and, most of all, joy in my life.
Another event that changed my life is my brother moving away for school about two years ago. Up until then, my brother has always lived with me, or if he lived somewhere else, he would eventually always come back home at least on the weekends. Now, that he lives in another state, I have been forced to be more active socially. I am in several online support groups, and I am more active at my church. A more negative thing of having him move away, though, besides not being able to see him as much as I would like, is that if I need help with something that has to do with technology, I either have to handle it myself, or contact him via phone or Skype when he is available. Since he is often busy with his life, this makes fixing technological and mechanical problems in the house much more difficult.
Yet another event that has changed my life is getting my current job. Before my current job, I was not working full-time, but only part-time. Not only was my current job graciously offered to me, but about seven months later, I was able to get full-time! Since then, I have learned so much from all the people that work there. Most of my managers have been very gracious and kind to me, and they have taught me so many things about my job and how to do it even better. They have also helped me be a better person. I now have the support of many of my co-workers and they, too, through their unique personalities and work styles, have taught me a lot about life and work. Most of all, the managers and many of the associates as well, have believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. This has helped me to be motivated to do my job even better than before and has given me the confidence that I need, in order to continue to learn new things and do a good job.
These are the three experiences I believe changed my life the most. Of course, many smaller events also have influenced and changed me, but these ones have had a tremendous impact on my life. What experiences have changed your life the most? What did you learn from them? Please feel free to share in the comments below.