I was born in the 1960s in Germany. My parents were what you may call average normal Christians: they went to church whenever there was a (baby) baptism, confirmation (protestant), wedding, or funeral. Until I was about 10 years old, my parents prayed a formal prayer (Müde bin ich, geh zur Ruh) with me every night. After that, I was left to decide whether to pray or not – on my own.
Being a good Protestant, I had confirmation at the age of 14. In the weeks before, I attended the confirmation classes that the pastor taught. The class was required to attend church on Sundays, or at least every other Sunday.
This was a crucial time in my life. I was very curious about God and God’s world, and I was searching for answers to many questions I had. So I kept asking the preacher about things. Sad but true, I was left hungry. His answer, for example, to my question about where God is, was, “God is not in the world. God is the world.” That answer did not make any sense to me.
Growing up, I became rebellious and more and more bitter. I was scared. All I wanted to do was escape the madness at home. My parents were constantly fighting and threatening to take their lives.
I became pregnant when I was 20—just shortly after I graduated from vocational school. And what else was there to do but get married and start a great family? But what followed were many years filled with abusive behavior, tears, hardships, screaming—you name it—and the marriage ended in a divorce!
Yes, the LORD was always there for me. But I was blind. I did not see or hear Him. What I did see was the faith my little boy had back then. One day, when he was about 3 years old, he said to me, “Mom? When Jesus comes back, I want to give Him a BIG hug!”
A dramatic experience that changed my life forever
It happened during an evening when I was alone at home and my son was already asleep. That evening, I yearned for God so desperately. I needed some answers! “Why God? Why?” I asked. The Holy Spirit led me to a few pages in my Bible that opened my eyes. No, I didn’t hear an audible voice, nor did I see an angel or a vision. It was more than that. Page numbers (during that time I wasn’t familiar with the books of the Bible) kept coming into my mind, so I opened my Bible and kept on reading and reading.
I read words in my Bible that seemed to have been written just for me. Words that pointed me to nearly all the times I had sinned in my life. I felt so bad and thought I was going to die—right there and then! I was ready for the big thunder and lightning to come down on me and kill me.
Then I heard a soft voice (again, not audible but within my heart), “Open your Bible to page…” Again, I was afraid. At first, I did not want to open my Bible because I was scared to read more about myself and my sinful life. I answered, “No. Please, no.” But the gentle voice kept on telling me to open my Bible, and so I did.
What I read then still touches my heart every time I tell or write down this story. The words are found in Isaiah 43:1
Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
By that time, my knees were on the floor, as was my face. I was sobbing, having problems handling all the thoughts and emotions inside of me. To me, it was hard to believe how the LORD could save a person like me.
That was more than thirty years ago. All that happened in my living room, with nobody else but the Holy Spirit present. I know that to some people this may sound strange, but this is my testimony—how I came to know the LORD.
Bless the LORD, O my soul
I’m glad my born-again experience happened at home, in His perfect place and timing for me. Some of you may have been led to say “the sinner’s prayer” and then been left to find out the rest for yourself. Some of you may have been misled to believe that, once you become a Christian, your sorrows and problems will just vanish.
The new life isn’t explained within a minute or two. Let me tell you this much, though: As believers in Christ, we can face the same problems here on earth as non-believers do, but with one great difference: we live in the knowledge that He is faithful and will:
forgive all our iniquities,
heal all our diseases,
redeem our lives from destruction,
crown us with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
satisfy our mouth with good things so that our youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
(see Psalm 103:1)
It does make a difference!
Yes, the Christian life isn’t always easy here on earth. Here we will face times when our tears are just running down our cheeks: when a loved one dies, we grieve; when our children go the wrong way, we have sorrows; and when our aging bodies ache, we feel the pain.
We know, though, that one day…
God shall wipe away all tears …
and there shall be no more death,
neither shall there be any more pain:
for the former things are passed away.