Growing up as a Catholic I thought I knew Jesus but I always felt so bad that Jesus had to die for me. I didn’t understand my faith, salvation or Jesus’ sacrifice – how very sad. Something inside of me wanted to do more for God but I could never seem to ‘keep up’ with the holy lifestyle that I thought was expected of me. Caught in a cycle of guilt and remorse my life seemed to be literally stuck at the crucifixion, never reaching the resurrection. What a waste!
One February afternoon I turned extremely yellow and found myself being admitted to hospital with a trapped gallstone (that blocked my common bile duct and liver!) The consultant said my liver was so infected that if I’d left it another 24 hours it would have been fatal. Praise the Lord!
Some weeks later (and minus a gallbladder) the realisation of where I’d spend eternity really impacted me. I wrestled with the idea that my eternity may have been spent in a far hotter place that I’d have liked – in hell!
I knew I’d been given another chance and I knew I needed to make some changes – what or how I didn’t know but God did! The following Sunday evening I found myself on my knees in St Mary’s Catholic Church and from the deepest recesses of my heart I surrendered my life to Jesus: inviting Him to be Lord over every area of my life. It was such a profound moment for me and I really did expect lightning bolts to come through the ceiling haha! Yet I felt nothing! Nothing! I was so disappointed and reasoned that God hadn’t heard me, I remember standing up and thinking ‘well that was a waste of time.’
Romans 10:13 ‘For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
God hears every prayer and just 2 weeks later I met Jesus. I was Baptised in the Holy Spirit and from that day forward Jesus wasn’t just head knowledge, Jesus was in my heart. For the first time in my life, I had a relationship with the author and finisher of my life.
I was ‘born again’! I love this phrase as it truly depicts what happened to me as I embraced the new creation I was in Christ Jesus and this insatiable hunger I had for all things, Jesus! But the ‘old me’ kept creeping in trying to pull me back into old ways, and I found myself in pits I couldn’t climb out of – I then learnt that our fight is not with what we see but what we don’t.
Ephesians 6:12 ‘For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.’
It was during this season that the Holy Spirit told me ‘He was the Gardener of my life and was going to start pruning.’ I didn’t actually know what He meant because at the time I didn’t read the Bible but I knew He had His work cut out!!
John 15:2 ‘Every branch in me that bears not fruit he takes away: and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bring forth more fruit.’
He has faithfully pruned me ever since. Before I knew Jesus I lived in constant fear, worry and anxiety, had rejection issues, deep hurts, was shy (unless I knew you!), insecure, low self-esteem and the shame that gripped me was painfully toxic. But God has faithfully delivered me and keeps delivering me!
God doesn’t just reform us, He transforms us far better than we could ever dream or imagine!
How Great is our God!