Two words that sum up my walk with God are grace and mercy.
I found Him 9 years ago, steeped in sin, lost, and with a broken heart. I grew up in a single parent home and experienced some of life’s traumas at an early age. I started self-harming at 12 years old, cutting and burning myself, but this brought no relief. By my late teens I was into drugs, living a very promiscuous lifestyle, had my first abortion at 17, and by 20 years old I had been addicted to marijuana, speed, meth, and cocaine, as well as using a lot of ecstasy.
I spent a year living a dangerous lifestyle abroad where I started my cocaine use at 19 years old, and it was overseas that I first sold my body to a man. By the time I returned to Australia, I was more broken than ever. It wasn’t long before I was into the bikie scene in SA, surrounding myself with dangerous men, getting heavier into my drug usage, and was constantly falling into relationships with men who would beat me. A bikie that I was infatuated with (who in fact was a very dangerous and violent criminal) got me a job working in a ‘massage’ parlour, which in reality was a brothel, where my already low self esteem began to plummet.
On the outside I appeared as a cocky and self-assured, shameless woman, but on the inside, I was just hollow, with the only emotions I was able to feel being pain, sadness, and shame. I always assumed that I would just kill myself one day, and that was that. In the mean time, I somehow drudged my way through, mostly thanks to the drugs I would be constantly self-medicated with.
After yet another messy breakup, I ended up staying at a man’s house whom I’d previously met, as I had nowhere to go. We were both using ice and marijuana, and our lives were in shambles. He had never hit me unlike previous partners until one night, during an argument, he started punching me in the face repeatedly until I was dizzy. Thank God I didn’t lose my eye that night.
In a strange turn of events, a couple of days later, he told me that he’d been raised a Christian, and he had sworn he’d never hit a woman, and that because he had done that he told me he felt he needed to ‘get right with God’. I now know that was the work of the Holy Spirit. He contacted his mum’s pastor and gave his heart to the Lord that week. As for me, I hated Christians. I thought they were just self-righteous and judgemental hypocrites who had no right telling people how to live their lives. I was into occultic practices, and had experienced very real and powerful spiritual experiences, so I thought it was the Christians who had no idea about true spirituality. So the even stranger turn events was the day my boyfriend was walking out the door to attend church for the first time a couple of weeks later, something in my gut urged me to go with him. He agreed that I could go with him.
This is the day my life was forever changed. I was nervous people would see me for the filthy wretch I was, or that I would catch on fire when I walked through the door, I went nonetheless. From the moment I entered that Baptist church in Modbury, SA, I was welcomed, I was embraced, and I was loved in a way that I never dreamed possible. I listened intently to the worship music, the words of praise directed to a kind and loving God, who loved sinful and lost people like me. What was going on? How was this so? Didn’t this God of the Christians hate me, and condemn me, and take joy in sending me to hell? Didn’t He only accept people with unattainably perfect lives?
What I discovered that day, was the gospel, that sinners like me were invited into a family and given a place at the table. I knew in my hearts of hearts, that I was totally exposed before this God, yet that He had called me, accepted and had received me. I wholeheartedly believed the gospel I had heard that day, and knew that I had finally found home, and this ‘home’ was in Christ; my saviour, my brother, and my King. I felt the love of my heavenly Father, something that my heart had so yearned for my whole life. It was this love that has held me, cleansed me, and strengthened me for the last 9 years.
I now know peace, hope, joy, love, and find no greater joy in life than when I am sharing this wonderful gift of salvation and hope with others. I love the Word of God and feel malnourished when I go without reading it. When I have felt battle-weary, or out of steam, my Lord has sustained me. His Word is true, and we can stand steadfast believing every promise He has given us.
Be encouraged dear Saints. Keep praying for one another. Fan the flame within yourselves. And share this wonderful gift of salvation with everyone you meet. He has said the harvest is ripe, so let us believe Him, and become a worker in His field. Be blessed, in the name of Jesus Christ.
The author, Bee, serves with a house church in Modbury, SA building sincere love-deeds and strengthening one another to bring this life-changing gospel to anyone and everyone opportunity offers.