My testimony is not very long, nor is it very exciting, yet it is an honest and accurate account of God working in my life. I pray that my testimony challenges you to ask, “Where did my faith come from?”
I grew up in church and I also attended a catholic primary school, so I always had a knowledge of God but there were no clear indicators that I was a follower of Christ. I understood sin and what Jesus did on the cross. I identified as a follower of Christ but was heavily shaped by culture. This was because my peers were not Christian, and so they really influenced what I did with my life outside of church. Consequently, I was not living for God and I was chasing after acceptance, wealth and success.
Still, I was consistently forced to attend church by my parents and this is where I was taught scripture. I went on Christian camps, I attended Christian events such as Rice Rally and KYCK, and often I got confused as to whether or not I was a true Christian or not. At these Christian events, there were huge crowds who would be responding to Jesus, and when people were “choosing to follow Jesus for the first time or recommitting their faith”, it was always associated with some sort of special emotion that convicted them to live for Him. I never felt that feeling or emotion to walk down at an altar call or choose to put my faith in Jesus and it left me frustrated wondering if I would ever “truly” become a Christian. It never happened to me at these events and in hindsight it was hard for me to discern between knowing Christ and following Christ. Although it seemed like I knew God, my knowledge of Him did not transform me to live for Him. I had a lot of head knowledge from church and His Word but this knowledge did not change my heart…yet, because God had decided to work differently in my life.
The Spirit softened my heart over the course of year 12. This was a time when you make your first major decisions in life, such as picking a career. I really struggled to see what was beyond high school. I didn’t know what to do with my life or what career I wanted to pursue. All I had in the back of my mind was that I should live for Christ, but my current life was not reflecting that. I wrestled with this idea throughout the busyness of HSC. Even before the final HSC exams, I was still thinking about what I was going to do with my life. I saw that there was this burden that was placed on me by my parents, friends, culture and society, and also myself, to be something or to do something with my life, but slowly God allowed me to see through the illusions of satisfaction and security that wealth and success advertised. I saw how easily you could put your identity in something, and how easily it could be taken away. In that moment, I realised that I was so finite and sinful, and I remember that I prayed a prayer asking God to soften my hardened heart, and that I might live for Him, for his glory and that His will be done in my life. So I put my trust in Christ who became my identity, and I was satisfied in Christ alone. Colossians 3:17 puts this perfectly,
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him”.
This passage helped me realise that in this world there is so much corruption and wickedness – people only think of themselves and they seek only to build themselves up. But in Christ I am free to serve wherever. He has placed me where I am, that I should do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, and in believing dependence on him, know that God has a good plan for me.
That was 5 years ago, and my journey since then has been full of ups and downs. God has certainly continued to challenge me and I’ll share one major moment in my life which really shook the foundation of my identity. Three years ago, I was put face to face with severe depression. I doubted God’s love and sovereignty in my life because it was hard to see the light amongst all the darkness. My mind was clouded and I was confused about how God could allow me to suffer in such a way. I grew increasingly bitter towards God which led me to leave Sydney for a short while. During this time I reflected where I stood before God and by His grace he brought me back to church community.
Being afflicted with depression has been a humbling experience, I’ve learnt that I am nothing without God and He has grown me to be more close and dependent on Him. I often think of this affliction as a thorn in my flesh, similar to the apostle Paul’s. I wouldn’t wish this away, because it has allowed me to bless others in ways I couldn’t imagine. Finally, it has allowed me to anticipate the promises of Christ’s second coming, where all brokenness will be wiped away. Even though I long for that day to come sooner than later, my prayer is that God will continue to use my efforts in loving and serving Him and His people.