I wrote this originally several years ago and have not updated it. It’s still unfinished as Jesus is still working on me…
I was raised as a Protestant, attending church in NJ. I can say I was raised in a family that believed in God but were not very Christian in attitude. I was about 10 years old when I stopped attending church.
Over the years until I dedicated myself to Christ, I experienced situations that led me to question my own faith in God. Not that I stopped believing in God, just that I periodically found myself in a situation where I had to question just how strong my belief was. For years I owned a Bible that I would never read and my only prayers were for solutions to my problems. Never did I pray for others or simply praise God through prayer. Even during my combat during Desert Storm I don’t remember praying for any forgiveness. I prayed for protection and courage but that was it. I did read the entire book of Revelation during the time building up to the war but I failed to follow that nagging feeling that I needed more in my relationship with God.
Then I met CPL B in 1995. He was saved in 1994 and it was very obvious his purpose was to be an evangelist. He was very proactive in his desire to lead as many people as he could to God. At first my desire was to just be left alone because I did believe in God but didn’t need to be led to God. But over time he and I talked a lot about God, the bible, and salvation. Over the weeks he had taken a step back from his pressure on me and began to just let me approach him when I had questions. He challenged me to evaluate my faith with God, question God for guidance through prayer and eventually made me see the meaning of salvation. How just saying I believed in God wasn’t the only thing I needed in my life.
During this period in my life, my wife was also going through some situations that led her to pray to God for solutions. I watched her begin to read the bible more and put her problems and life into God’s hands. In just a short time her life and our life as a couple began to take a turn for the better. I could see how God was working in our life, specifically in her’s. I began to question more and more the quality of my own faith with God.
I was saved in April of 1995, in Hohenfels Germany. We had completed our 3 weeks of training and had time to relax while we prepared to return to our home station. During this time Cpl B and I began to talk more about salvation and life as a Christian. This life was what I wanted, or at least desired more then any other time of my life. I found that my desire to read the bible was only the beginning of my need to learn more about God. I also began to pray more comfortably with God. I learned the meaning of praising him through prayer as well as just simply talking with him. I asked God for understanding while reading the bible and for Him to help others during times of need.
Over the years my life as a Christian has had its highs and lows concerning the quality of my faith. Times when I find myself drifting away from God I have experienced situations that caused me to look to God for help. Something as simple as God coming up in conversation has led me to realize that I was drifting away. I would realize the fact that I hadn’t picked up the bible in quite a while, or that I hadn’t said a prayer at all.
The last few years of my life has begun to be the strongest I have had in my faith with God. My desire to follow His word and live the way I need to live as a Christian has become very important. Not only for me but for my family also. We all made the decision to declare our belief in God by being baptized once again. My daughter just prior to the baptism prayed with Pastor Mickey for her salvation.
So to Pastor Mickey… THANK YOU! With your guidance, her understanding of what it meant to pray for her forgiveness and accept Christ into her heart was another that God is still working in my life.
Now, when I originally wrote this testimony about 4 years ago I avoided the fact that as a child I was raised in an abusive family environment. I was both physically and emotionally abused by my mother. My father had divorced my mother when I was five years old and moved away. Short of a few visits each year for the next three years I then never saw my father until I was 26 years old.
Living with my mother until I was able to get away was an extremely difficult period of my life and brother’s life. Looking back it seemed my mother took all her frustrations out on us. She would lash out at us and if she wasn’t doing it in a physical manner, it was an unending barrage of screaming and verbal abuse.
The physical abuse slowly ended over the years as I grew older but the emotional abuse really never ended until I was able to get away from her by moving away once I was able. This, however, didn’t end the memories and all the damage that had been done over all those years.
Shortly after I moved out my mother was diagnosed as schizophrenic after being committed to a hospital. My brother was placed in foster care until he was old enough to move on.
At this point of my life I was still new to the Army. I was newly married and living in Germany and even though all this was happening to my mother my thoughts at the time was SO WHAT! The ocean between us kept me from having to deal with her and even if I could see her, my feelings for her would have remained just as distant. There was nothing that would ever get me to love my mother, let alone forgive her for all that she’d done to me and my brother when we were kids. The fact that she had been mentally unstable all those years fell on deaf ears and never entered my hardened heart.
Even as time passed over the years I avoided my mother to the best of my ability. Never called her, never wrote her, I could care less when my wife bought Christmas cards for my mother. I would get angry at my wife when she pressured me to call her, or remind me of the fact it was her birthday.
When I returned from Germany four years later, I did see my mother while she was still locked up in a facility that was treating her because she still wasn’t capable to be out on her own. I can’t recall if it was a promise to my wife or my grandmother to go see her. After this visit I do remember that I still had no love to offer my mother. Any help I offered was due to the fact that it was my responsibility since I was her eldest son.
I eventually found God and was saved as I described in the first half of this testimony. As my relationship with God matured my relationship with my mother turned, very slowly. I still never wanted to call her or write her but did it because that was the ‘right’ thing to do. Yes, I had to be pressured into doing it. She had been discharged from lockup and was living as a boarding house for people in her situation and to this day still works with them even though she’s been living on her own for the past several years.
I visited my grandmother every time I was home on leave from the Army so this was once every three years. To do the right thing I also went to go see my mother because she did desire to see me and my family. I left these visitations feeling confused because my mother was what I’d expect a mom to be but my feelings and my heart would not accept her love.
A few years ago I wanted this confusion to end. It was actually starting to bother me how I couldn’t accept my mother. I’d say I loved her, I’d call her periodically, send the holiday cards but in my heart there was no love, no desire to talk to her or send her those cards.
Here I was on one end of my life doing God’s Will, talking the talk and because of this hurt; I was stumbling and tripping along in my walk. I’d tell people that forgiveness isn’t for the person that did you wrong but for you. Unforgiveness tears you apart, never effects the person who did you wrong. Yet I wouldn’t follow my own advice.
When I finally prayed for God to remove the hardness I had in my heart toward my mother…it was gone. During my prayer to forgive my mother, God removed it all from my heart and left me healed. Now my relationship with my mother is what I’d imagine a normal relationship between a son and his mom would be. Just last summer I even picked up my mom and brought her across the state to spend the Memorial Day weekend at my home and to have her meet her in-laws for the very first time. We had a great time!
12 Jan 08 – I will be updating this testimony with events in my life that required the prayers of a righteous man to help me through a heaviness that I have had for many years:
James 5:16 – Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
I have been asked lately, “How do you give it all to God and then leave it there at the Foot of the Cross?”
Our discussion was about sin that we struggle with. We all struggle and if we don’t, we’re just blinded or refusing to admit it. Many give their sin to God and don’t sin that specific sin anymore. They place it at the Foot of the Cross and leave it there. I look at it this way… we all walk a path that God has placed us on and along that path are struggles, some that we allowed and some that God has placed before us. The struggles that God places before us are not sin but instead are tribulations to help us learn, develop, and mature so I won’t elaborate on these at this time.
The struggles that “we” place before ourselves are usually something we’re doing that is sinful and separating us from God. Thus the struggle as we are convicted by the Holy Spirit that we are doing something wrong or holding onto something that is causing the struggle. I could list examples but it would be endless as we all have our own specific struggle(s).
So how do we “truly” give a struggle to God? So completely that we don’t take any portion of it back. For me, I have failed in doing this in the past concerning a sin covered by two words that we find in the Bible… Sexual Immorality.
Failure to give up this sin brought me to a place that God wanted me. Broken and crying out to Him, right at the Foot of the Cross where He wanted me to “truly” leave the sin.
That day I was led to this scripture: Proverbs 3:32
32 For the perverse person is an abomination to the LORD, But His secret counsel is with the upright.
As I wrote in my journal (yeah, I journal), “I grieve as I read the first part but I now fight to be upright!” I fasted that day and in the evening I placed myself once again before God with my wife and some close friends as witnesses. I was led by this: James 5:16
16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
I prayed to God and laid myself bare before God and confessed it all, nothing was held back from that deep dark closet I had always refused to fully empty out. I had in the past, picked and chose what to give to God and this kept Satan’s foot in the door to open later and restock the shelves.
I then received prayer from all with me that evening and I was delivered from my sin and it was “truly” left at the Foot of the Cross.
So, all this testimony you had to read through to reach the whole point of this blog. As I stated earlier, how do you give it all to God? Then, how do you leave it there?
Well, for me and I pray that this helps others out there understand how God will turn our struggles, even our sin into something GOOD! My struggle with addiction to fantasy lust and masturbation has enabled God to use me to minister to others who are presently suffering from this and various other sins dealing with pornography… Sexual Immorality.
But the main question is how am I able to leave this sin at the Foot of the Cross after so many years of being bound and chained by it? Good question and the easy answer could have been, “Because I gave it to God and I meant it that final time.” This didn’t satisfy even my need to understand. So I prayed and God answered me quite clearly…
“Tell people, confession, testimony, allow your failure to be known and be used by Me to help other people and I will use up everything you placed at the Foot of the Cross and there will be nothing left for you to take back”
So, this is how I “truly” left that sin at the Foot of the Cross and I have not taken it back. This is why I am so open about this and remain… free!