I was baptized as an infant into the Catholic Church. I received all of the required sacraments, and thought that I was right with God based on what I did for Him. I still remember the day I went to Reconciliation for the first time: I told my mom I didn’t think I had any sins to confess. I thought I was a good person and had no idea how incredibly depraved I really was. I had heard all of my life that Jesus died for my sins, but as a child and into my teen years, I did not really understand that Jesus died for my sins.
One day, God put Michael (my husband) into my life. He loved God and openly spoke about how important his relationship with God was. I fell in love with Michael quite quickly and was astonished to find out that He loved God more than he loved me. This hurt – a lot. I realized at that moment that the god I worshiped and the God Michael worshiped were quite different.
I started reading the bible everyday trying to understand who this God was that Michael worshiped and loved so much. We spent many evenings talking about God – I was stubborn though and didn’t understand what was so wrong with my previous beliefs. After a lot of discussion and prayer, we agreed that the bible should be the sole source of our truth; this changed my life. God opened my eyes slowly; every single day I learned something new – a new truth, and even truths I had previously heard but now became true in my heart.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:18, we are “being saved” and sanctification is an ongoing process. I mention this because I am unsure to the exact day that I was saved – there have been many eye-opening moments. One specifically comes to mind though that I am sharing below:
I happened to come upon a Christian online forum (StudyLight) where various theological discussions were taking place. I would log-on every day and participate in many of the forum topics (I tended to enjoy the topics that were highly debated!). One day, however, God felt far away from me. I had been asking Him “into my heart” as I thought I should, but He didn’t seem to be acknowledging my prayer. I shared my frustration with some people on the board asking them if there was something more I could do to feel God. One of the board members asked me,
“Well, what do you think you should do?”
I responded by saying, “Well, I think I need to read my bible more, pray more, maybe fast or…listen to more sermons?”
He said, “So in other-words, you need to do something to gain His forgiveness? His presence? Samantha, do you not realize that HE did it all? You cannot work for your salvation. He saved you. You cannot do anything to make things right – He did it all on the cross.”
It was at that moment that the cross became alive! It was as if a veil had been lifted from my eyes and for the first time I believed “Jesus died for MY sins!” I remember sitting at my computer and thinking, “DUH!”. All my life I had heard that Jesus died for me, but HE really DID die for ME, didn’t He?! Suddenly, I had a new zeal for my life: my life wasn’t mine, it was His. I hated my sin; I started to see how truly vile and filthy I was. My supposed righteousness was a dirty rag to Him. How could I repay the Creator of the Universe when “In Him we live and move and have our being!”? (Acts 17:28)
I wish I could tell you that I now have great faith and love for God – but I don’t. I struggle every single day to believe He is who He says He is, and that He loves me and that He does “all things for my good” (Romans 8:28). He has used many trials to humble me and to sanctify me. After each trial, I see Him more clearly – but then I forget all that I had learned and start to run away again – and then He allows another trial and the cycle starts all over again. I often wonder if I will ever get it. What I have learned though is that He is faithful and true, and despite all of my unfaithfulness, He has never left me. He really does love me – how can that be? How can it be that the Creator of the Universe loves me and died for me? What did I do to deserve such a God? I ask myself these questions all of the time and am fondly reminded by Him that He did it for His glory and His fame. To God be the glory forever and ever. Salvation belongs to our God!