Growing up as the oldest of nine children has its share of challenges. I can remember my parents insisting that I should be patient and to always give way to the wishes of the younger ones. These things I tried to do as best as I could but I find myself asking Jesus in my prayers before I went to bed that night to forgive me for failing so miserably. I also remember the many do's and don'ts that seemed endless and overwhelming.
It was during our family worship time when I would be asked to recite my favorite memory verse and was told that if I were to ask Jesus to forgive my sins before I went to bed that night, and if I were to die in my sleep, I would be sure to go to heaven.
The most difficult time in my life was when I experienced a death in the family for the first time. My grandmother had died and it was at this time I remembered the conversations I had with the neighborhood boys regarding death. Now that it has happened to my family, I feared about the ghosts and other supernatural things that can scare and frighten me. I dared not being alone at night nonetheless watchful lest I be surprised by their unexpected appearance. Needless to say, I did not sleep a wink for several days.
It was from this experience that brought to mind several questions about heaven and hell, death and the hereafter. It seemed that these questions came a lot faster than I could find answers. My sincere desire was to make sure I would see my grandmother again. I was told that I would see her again in heaven and that she would be waiting for me there. To me, that idea brought comfort from the grief of losing her.
Answers such as these satisfied my inquiries and I readily accepted the suggestions and explanations from my well-meaning parents and relatives. I remember making promises such as "I promise to be good and to not provoke my brothers and sisters to anger."
My daily life took on quite a turn in my attitude. Although I continued to have growing pains, I became aware of something I desired so much. Just before going to bed, I'd ask for forgiveness of all the sins I may have committed that day and I would feel a certain peace of mind that somehow enabled me to sleep peacefully that night. What I longed for though, was to have that same peace of mind during my waking hours as I have at night. But somehow that desire was replaced by the preoccupation of the knowledge of my miserable failures. I noticed that my prayers for forgiveness were for the same sins day after day that I began to doubt my sincerity. Not long after that I threw my arms up and desperately exclaimed, "Oh, what's the use!"
This may seem like I was giving up so easily, but no! My prayer that very night was: "Lord Jesus, please have mercy on me, a sinner in need of a Saviour. You have cared for me and provided for my needs in the past and I feel that my future looks bright only because You have promised to be with me to the end. Please help me build sufficient faith in You to believe that You can keep me from sinning. Thank you Jesus for answering my prayer. Amen."
The Lord in His mercy answered my prayers over the next several years and continuing until the present time. Learning about Jesus, His life and holy history on this earth and His will for me has always been my constant activity. Although life still presents it's challenges, and I can assure you there is plenty to meet, I feel the peace in the midst of the storm.
Without feeling the least bit presumptuous, I am able to face the world around me every day with a quiet confidence in the God I have learned to love and serve who only can give me the assurance that if I were to die suddenly, my first waking moment will be to see Jesus coming in the clouds of heaven to be reunited with my grandmother. Oh, what a happy occasion that will be.
Learning about God and Jesus from the Holy Scriptures has led me to discover His plan for me and has given me a sense of security, encouragement and hope for the future. Although life's challenges continue to be abrasively cold and harsh at times, God gives me the strength to face these when they come my way.
If somehow you find that my experience is something you could relate to and wish to know what I found to be what God has planned for me, I have written them out for you in the next section.
DISCOVERY No.1: God is Love - By reading the Holy Scriptures, I discovered that God is love. (see 1 John 4: 7-8, 16). I also learned that His love is the basis of His plan to save me. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. " John 3:16; "But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, He saved us, it is the gift of God. " Eph 4:6-9; "But God commandeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners and His enemies, God sent His Son Jesus to die in our stead. " Rom 5:8; "God demonstrated His love for us by sending His Son to be the our sin bearer. " 1John 4:10.
DISCOVERY No.2: God wants me to know that I have eternal life - "These scriptures were written so that you may know that you have eternal life. " 1John 5:11-13; That eternal life is a gift. "The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. " Rom 6:23; It was also declared in Eph 2:8-9 that "For by grace, you have been saved, and not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. "
DISCOVERY No.3: God wants to save me but I have a serious problem - I am a sinner. "For all have sinned, and are continually coming short of the glory of God. " Rom 3:23; "There is none righteous, no not one, and there is none that seeks after God." Rom 3:10-11; I am subject to die because of my sins. "The wages of sin is death. " Rom 6:23; The Lord will have to punish me even if I had only one sin. "God will by no means clear the guilty. " Ex 34:7; Therefore, I am condemned, placed in death row, and have to suffer the consequences of my sins. "I have been condemned already " John 3:18; "Because of one man's transgression, there resulted condemnation to all men. " Rom 5:18; Even the righteous good works that I do, the Holy Scriptures says, it is not good enough to present to God to show I am worthy to be saved. "And all our righteous deeds are as filthy garments " Isa 64:6. I quickly realized that I am in a great dilemma, "Oh wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death. " Rom 7:24.
DISCOVERY No.4: God did not leave me in my desperation very long, He lead me to His solution, Jesus Christ - for God already delivered me from my dilemma, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord who only can deliver me. " Rom 7:25; "God so loved me that He gave His only begotten Son " John 3:16; God initiated my reconciliation to Himself through Jesus Christ, "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their sins against them. " 2Cor 5:18-19.
DISCOVERY No.5: The qualifying question - "Who is Jesus Christ? " I learned that Jesus is God. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. " John 1:1-2; Jesus was the creator of this world and the universe. "All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. " John 1:3; "For by Him all things were created, both in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities; all things have been created by Him and for Him. " Col 1:16; see also Heb 1:2.
DISCOVERY No.6: The Son of God, became the Son of man. When God gave His only begotten Son, it did not mean that Jesus was to be a missionary to this earth, do His good works, show man how to keep God's laws, then return to heaven. NO! That was not what happened, Jesus joined the human race in His incarnation to be man forever, a self-imposed limitation to be a man. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. " John 1:14. "An angel of the Lord stood before the shepherds and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. And the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring to you good news of great joy for all peoples; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Saviour who is Christ the Lord. " Luke 2:9-11. It is recorded that "The Child Jesus continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom and the grace of God was upon Him. " "And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. " Luke 2:40,52; When Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan, God the Father showed His approval of the life of His Son Jesus and declared with an audible voice to the hearing of those around Him, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. " Matt 3:17. It is only through Jesus Christ that I can find salvation, "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man can come to the Father, but by me.'" John 14:6; "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved." John 10:9; "Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved. " Acts 2:21; "There is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved, the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. " Acts 4:12.
DISCOVERY No. 7: (to be continued)
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