God Turned My Shame into Joy!
I grew up in a loving and supportive family, but I was also very independent. I didn’t have any formal religious upbringing, but my mother made me aware of God. She would tell us that God is always watching and to have integrity and to live by the golden rule.
At some point in my early teens, without knowing anything about the Bible, I rejected faith and the concept of religion. I began to put my efforts into my own self-awareness. I even felt out of place and almost guilty any time I would enter a church for a wedding or funeral. I felt judgment, and I felt like I didn’t belong. I was even averse to hearing my mother share her testimony or the Gospel. I had a strong desire to continue to serve myself in a life of sin.
I grew up playing music and spending time with friends and seeking adventure. I started to drink in my late teens. By my 20s and 30s, I drank excessively to have fun and let loose, but always felt I had some degree of control. My independence gave way to a natural course of everyday hardships, and I began to drink because I thought it helped me to deal with the anxiety and stress of growing up and facing problems. I also used cannabis and experimented with other drugs. I often justified these chemicals because I thought they aided in my enlightenment and personal growth.
"I seemed to sense the voice of God lovingly admonish me, 'You don’t have to live in shame.' I was humbled and ready to change."
At some point back in my teen years, my mother began to attend Bible studies and turned to God and professed her faith in Jesus. Although this didn’t have a direct impact on me at the time, I got to see the Lord at work. In 2020, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. My family began to constantly pray for her. Her prayer group was vast. I was terrified, but I felt comfort in prayer. I saw her strength and fearlessness through her faith. She didn’t seem afraid at all. I began to wonder if God was hearing my prayers. I wanted to understand more about faith and the Bible. My mother gave me her mother’s Bible, which I read a little bit, but it mostly sat on my dresser, as I continued to focus on praying for her healing.
At this point in my life, I had grown very anxious and had little desire to leave the house except for work. One day while browsing YouTube, a video of Ray Comfort popped up as a suggested video. I watched several videos of him preaching the gospel in open air settings.Praise God, He knew exactly how to reach me, though isolated at home!
It wasn’t but a few days later that Gerry and Eric from Lehigh Valley Baptist Church knocked on my door. They asked me questions and read scripture. I knew then that something was happening. I was so happy to talk to them. I can recall how differently I felt when I knew why they came. The “old me” would have kindly said, “no, thank you!” – but I gladly listened and was grateful to hear them share the Gospel. They agreed to come back the next day to talk more. Looking back now, I know this was a Divine encounter.
I agreed to start Bible studies on September 7th of that year. I remember feeling excited that I was finally going to understand what was in the Bible and be able to have the knowledge and historical reference for discussion purposes. But that preconceived notion changed when my studies began. The lessons explained what sin is and what it means to have a relationship with God.Having no previous understanding, I had so many questions. They were so patient and helpful in sharing their personal testimonies, and they always pointed me back to God’s Word. It became apparent that the prescription for life was indeed in the Bible, God’s Word.
I continued to study, working through the Gospel of John and a lesson called, “The Five Pieces of Salvation.” I began to feel deep shame for my sins. I thought a lot about what Jesus did for me and was so thankful for the gift of God’s mercy and grace. Meanwhile, God had healed my mother’s cancer, and I realized God was real and He was working in my life. This is the God that I so desperately needed.
"I knew I couldn’t control my life. The more I tried to control things, the more disappointment I experienced."
Soon after that day in February of 2022, I traveled to visit with a friend in Florida. All I wanted to do was talk with him about Jesus and the new spiritual rebirth I had experienced. He couldn’t understand all the changes in his friend. The Lord has continued to change me from the inside out, taking away my desires for alcohol and drugs and most notably my filthy language habits which changed overnight. God has helped me in relationships, my job, finances, and moving forward in obedience to his will. I pray daily for further deliverance and for God’s continued mercy and grace through repentance and faith in Christ. He truly has taken away my shame and given me joy and fulfillment!
Mathew 7:7-8 – “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”