The Goodness of God Led Me to Repentance
I grew up in a Baptist home and attended the same Baptist church from infancy. I was surrounded by God’s blessings, learned all the Bible stories, and acted like a good kid for the most part. Behind the scenes, I was a really good liar, stole small items from the school’s art closet, and was verbally unkind to my siblings. But at church, I put on my good manners, and I thought that nobody could tell that I was a sinner. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Even if I had hidden my sins perfectly from everyone, I wouldn’t have been fooling God.
I never took into consideration how wrong and sinful my actions were. I just assumed I could do what I wanted and get away with it. I had heard the solid Gospel preaching at church, and recognized that all people were sinners, and that all of us needed to repent and trust Christ. I knew it as a general thing, but had never applied it to myself.
“After all, I hadn’t seen any terrible consequences for my sins, and everything in my young life evidenced the goodness of God.”
One afternoon, I found a Bible belonging to one of the church ladies, and on the inside was a handwritten list of prayer requests. I was surprised to find my own name written for salvation. That was the first time I personalized the Gospel. It wasn’t just a generic falling of the human race. It was me, Amanda, who had sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
In October of 2002, our church was having a Bible conference, so there was preaching every single night of the week. Of course, being the good church girl that I was, I attended every single night. During several of the messages, I felt very convicted of my wrongdoings. I knew my actions were hurting those around me, but I had never considered how God viewed them. “The wages of sin is death.” The stuff I’d done, as petty as I tried to make it seem, was breaking God’s law and had literally earned me a spot in hell. I had committed sin, and just like earning a paycheck after working, I earned death after sinning. But the Bible verse doesn’t end there. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
“At the end of the last message on the last night of preaching, God spoke to my heart, and I cried out to Him with a simple prayer, ‘God, I need you!’ “
I asked God to forgive me of my sins, once and for all, and to please grant me the gift of eternal life through the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross. The night that Christ saved me was a turning point for me! Instead of always succumbing to my penchant for lying and stealing, I did what God wanted me to do. Oh sure, I still mess up. But I can never lose the free gift of eternal life.
Throughout high school, I continued reading my Bible, attending church, and becoming strengthened spiritually. But when I graduated, I sadly neglected God and began to curiously pursue sins. I made mistakes that I’m not proud of, and I started spiraling out of control. Instead of turning back to God, I tried to fix the mistakes I made, resulting in further personal chaos. I shudder when I think of all the things that could have gone wrong in my life while I was pursuing my own selfish desires.
My parents recommended that I speak to a Christian counselor to get some scriptural advice. I was expecting the counselor to give me a list of things to fix in my life and advise me on how to fix my mess. Instead she told me to go back to reading my Bible and praying daily. Initially, I scoffed and thought it would do me no good.
I started reading, slowly at first. Even though I’d grown up with the Bible in my life, it somehow felt new. Instead of just reading because it was recommended to me, I started reading God’s Word because I wanted to.
“Once again, God tenderly drew me towards Himself and away from the sin that was ruining my life.”
I so vividly remember the wreck I was while I was trying to push God out of my life. I am reminded every day of the goodness of God that gently led me to salvation (Romans 2:4) and led me back to Him when I strayed. I am so grateful that God has never given up on me, and that He continues to change me to be more like Christ.