Monday, February 25

From Amber's Pen :: Concerning Her Conversion

The following was taken from the journal of conversions at our Church. Amber recorded her account in Spring 2003.

I first came to Christ Community Church in a miserable condition. Though most of my past consisted of morality and religion, I had spent the months prior to coming in open rebellion to the commands of Jesus Christ, which I had claimed to know so well. Therefore, when we came to the church I was already asking the question, “Is it possible to sin in such a way and really be a Christian?” As I kept asking this question I realized that I only wanted God to answer me with a simple “yes” and to allow me to move on with my new life at a new church in a new town, away from all that tempted me before.

However, God chose not to answer me in such an easy way. Instead, He increased my anxiety by giving me glimpses into my own heart and by showing me that my problem was much deeper than I had first imagined. I began to see evil in everything I tried to do. My terrible state before God was not a result of my outward sins, but of my evil heart that sought to satisfy self in every action. The lives of others at the Church also troubled me as I saw a real humility and selflessness in their walks with God.

God also used Richard Owen Roberts’ book Repentance to deepen the anxiety I already felt. In one chapter Mr. Roberts exposes seven myths of repentance, stating clearly that sorrow over sin, self-preservation, and reformation did not equal repentance. Upon finishing the chapter I thought, “If repentance is not summed up in those seven points, then I have no idea what it is.” As I continued to seek, I began to understand further that my problem was not merely my actions but my heart and I began to agree that I was fully deserving of hell with no right to expect mercy from God on the basis of myself.

Feeling some of the danger of my condition I began to seek counsel from my pastor. Through his counsel and teaching, God showed me that repentance and faith are gifts and that I could do nothing to earn them. I read the following hymn by Horatius Bonar daily to remind me of this:

Not what these hands have done
Can save this guilty soul;
Not what this toiling flesh has borne
Can make my spirit whole.

Not what I feel or do
Can give me peace with God
Not all my prayer, and sighs, and tears
Can bear my awful load.

Thy work alone, O Christ
Can ease this weight of sin;
Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God
Can give me peace within.

Thy love to me, O God,
Not mine, O Lord to Thee,
Can rid me of this dark unrest.
And set my spirit free.

Thy grace alone, O God,
To me can pardon speak;
Thy power alone, O Son of God,
Can this sore bondage break.

I began to pray this hymn to the Lord and to ask Him for these gifts, believing for the first time that I did not deserve them and that He did not owe them to me just because I asked. Suddenly I was overcome with the fear that God would choose not to grant these gifts.

I turned again to my pastor who kept pointing me to the One who was able to rescue my soul from death. I can still hear him say, “Look to Christ.” He told me that I was spending too much time looking inward to weigh my thoughts and motives. He once said, “If you are seeking to know Christ, do you really think that God will allow you to miss salvation?”

That thought was freeing to me, and God used it to shift my focus from myself to Him. Not long after that he recommended the book The Inner Life of Christ by William Blakey, wherein I saw the beauty of Jesus. I was caught up in His humility and perfections yet still doubting that He was willing to save me.

One morning I awoke in desperation and fear, and I begged God to use the books that I was reading to help me. The chapter that I was reading in The Inner Life of Christ pointed me to Luke 5 where the man with the leprosy looked to Jesus and said “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus responded, “I am WILLING, be cleansed.” The Holy Spirit spoke these words to my soul to erase my fears of being rejected by Christ. The same day I also read the chapter on faith in The Anxious Inquirer by John Angell James, which again confirmed God’s willingness to save me because of the righteousness of Christ.

That afternoon God put in my heart the song that my soul still sings with joy:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ Name.