I shared my testimony at a ladies study recently and I decided to share it here too. I have one concern in telling my story though: I in no way want to glorify the darkness that I came out of. I hope that my story will rather glorify God, whose power is infinitely greater than that of the devil, whose love can soften the hardest heart, and in whose light darkness flees.
Our family attended church when I was young and I had an immense set of Bible drama tapes that I listened to each night before I fell asleep. I could easily answer all the Sunday school teacher’s questions. I also was quick to memorize the verses assigned, and this led to spiritual pride early on in my life.
I remember listening to the story of the good Shepherd and the lost lamb. In this parable the Shepherd goes out to find his lost lamb, leaving the 99 behind. When he finds the lost lamb there is more rejoicing over the lost lamb that was found, than over the 99 safe sheep. The teacher explained that the Shepherd represents Jesus, seeking and saving the lost.
This story haunted me and left me feeling hurt and betrayed. Why would God rejoice more over the lost, found and saved, than over me? I knew that I would never stray from God. What is worse then being lost, is being lost while thinking that you are safe. I needed to learn that my own righteousness was as filthy rags, and that I was as in need of a saviour as much as the lost lamb. That lesson would turn out to be a very painful lesson to learn.
My parents separated shortly after, and I felt as though my world had been torn apart. I had been very close to my Dad and not understanding the complexity of the issue, I was very angry at my mother for leaving. And so, my relationship with both parents was severed. I was set adrift in the world. At first I questioned God’s love, and then his existence, before denying him altogether.
A world without God is a world without morals, and the consequences of that ideology became clear as I entered the teenage years and began a life of promiscuity as well as drug and alcohol abuse. I was at this time very troubled that without God there was no meaning to life. It meant that all the pain and suffering here was meaningless. I began searching for answers to the meaning of life in other religions and the occult. I started out by using a Ouija board and was soon delving into Wicca (witchcraft.)
Those were the two most terrible years of my life. Though I denied God and thought that I was free to do as I pleased, my conscience tormented me. Life held no joy and my soul had no rest. I became afflicted with terrible anxiety and depression. The frantic anxiety attacks left me feeling so out of control that I turned to cutting my arms to bring me back to some sort of calmness.
This was a time of secrecy as I tried to hide the scars on my arms and the wounds in my soul. I felt desperate to escape the turmoil of my life and suicide seemed the only answer left to me. At first the idea terrified me, but I dwelt on these thoughts more and more and felt strangely comforted while fantasizing about dying and what I imagined to be freedom from the chaos in my mind.
I cannot look back to those days of darkness without being eternally grateful that I didn’t take my life at that time. Oh precious Saviour, thank You for saving me from myself!
While in my darkest hour I began spending time with the man who would later become my husband. I was 16 at that time and had made a tornado out of my life. I knew that Kevin was a Christian and I started asking him questions about God. One day he said to me, “God loves you Rachel, and He wants you back.” The words stunned me. How could God love me after I had turned my back on Him? And yet I knew that it was true. God did love me! I wept before my Lord. His love was so great, so beautiful that I felt absolutely broken by it. I was the lost lamb and Jesus had found me!
The battle had just begun though, and the next few months would try the genuiness of my new faith. I had gone so far as to covenant myself to being a witch before coming to God, and Satan would not let me go without a fight. I had previously been comforted by demons and I now saw them for what they were, and I was terrified by the reality of the darkness I had been walking in.
I was tormented by day by thoughts of condemnation and by night with reoccurring dreams. In one dream I was picked up out of my bed and swung wildly around the room by a creature I could not see. This dream came back night after night, but over time things began to change. I began to pray in my dreams and I would wake up still praying. My fear began to wash away as I learned to put my trust in God. Though I was absolutely powerless to stand before Satan and his demons on my own, I was more than a conqueror through Christ who loved me. I learned that nothing, nothing could separate me from God’s love! (Rom 8:31-39)
It has been 15 years since I became a Christian, and though there have been many trials and sorrows, I have known through it all that Jesus was with me, leading me through. I have hope and peace and joy that can never be taken from me and I know that there is an eternal purpose to my life. I know also that I have value, not because I am a great person, but because Christ’s blood was shed for me.