There are many people in this world who, unfortunately, don't have God in their lives; however, God waits patiently for them to hear His message and share in His love. People have many pretenses as to why they don't accept God in their lives, such as their negative image of Christians. Sometimes Christians are viewed as people who can do no wrong or who are judgmental against others, or just plain out know-it-alls. The truth is that sin causes everyone, including Christians, to fall short of the glory of God. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (I John 1:8). No one person is more deserving of God's grace than another because it is given freely to each and every one of us through the sacrifice of His Son, Christ Jesus, our Lord, and Savior. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
God loves everyone and wants everyone to love Him too. For those who have found God and share a life with him, God expects them to not only share His word but also their experiences with others. "Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you" (Mark 5:19). Sometimes that is difficult to do, especially when others don't want to hear about God. Furthermore, some of us are reluctant to share our own past mistakes for fear of being condemned by others. However, showing others how God has changed our lives can help spread His word without sounding commanding.
As reluctant you might be, through your story you can set an example that may help others make personal changes in their own lives, and maybe help them find their way to God's love and ultimately their salvation. The formerly demon-possessed man of Gennesaret shows us that it can and should be done.
Therefore, I would like to briefly share my own story with you.
As a child, my brothers and I lived in an environment of alcoholism and a multitude of drug addictions. We had to endure both mental and physical abuse. As a young man, I had no job, no car, and no hope. Desperate to feel better about myself, I searched out the company of other miserable and morally corrupt people. I continued in the same lifestyle I was taught by my parents, even as I watched others, including loved ones, lose their lives to drugs.
I remember clearly the day the sheriffs kicked in my front door, looking for me, a newly turned adult. Arrested, placed on trial, imprisoned, stripped of my rights, and forced into confinement within a small space of 23 hours a day, I felt I was almost inhumanely treated. This event was the worst and best part of my life. I had finally hit rock bottom, which became the turning point for me and my life.
In jail, I benefited from forced sobriety. As that drug-induced cloud lifted, I thought more clearly and thought about important values, like the importance of family and being a good role model. I started to learn what was really important, and I knew I never wanted to come back to this place. While in jail, clear of drugs and alcohol I completed my G.E.D., which helped change my life and made me ready to face the world, or so I thought.
As a free man, it didn't take long to fall back into old habits with old friends. I quickly returned to alcoholism, but fortunately, I saw I was headed down the wrong path again. It was at this time I reached out to a good friend of mine, my next-door neighbor when I was growing up, George. George is the type of person who was always there to encourage us kids. He never condemned us but, instead, wanted the very best for us. It was George who first taught me the good news about Jesus and the sacrifice he made for sinners; sinners just like me.
I was skeptical at first, but George was able to show me irrefutable evidence that God, Jesus, and the Bible were true. When I finally allowed Jesus into my life by being baptized into his death, the changes were amazing. The void I felt in my life was filled, and my desire to do what was right because I wanted to increase a hundredfold. I continued to progress by leaps because I continued to seek out the strength and love of Jesus Christ.
The eight years of sobriety I enjoyed, since that first talk with my friend George. I've enjoyed a life I once thought I would never have. I share my life with my wife and my beautiful children. I have a nice home, a job, and a wonderful growing family all made possible because of God and His greater plan for us fulfilled through His Son, Jesus Christ.
But then I fell away from church and back into old beliefs and habits. Repeatedly I found myself crawling back to Christ and each time whupped by sin; yet He has always been faithful to forgive me "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9). Each time I turned back to God, my life would start taking a turn for the better. I now wait again to see what the future in Christ may bring me. Though trials still exist, as they do for anyone, I am able to overcome them with the help and guidance of God, knowing they will only make me stronger if I stick with them. "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:2-4).
Thanks for listening to my story. God has saved and continues to save my life. I encourage you to share your story. Don't be ashamed of your failures but learn and teach from your mistakes. You never know when one of your shortcomings may encourage another leading to the saving of his soul. God finds unique ways to use events, including the bad, to make beautiful results in people's lives.