By Karen Dauer
EDITOR’S NOTE: Having accompanied Karen’s conversion and growth in Christ, we had asked her to share her thoughts on this topic for our Portuguese-language magazine in Brazil. It was so good, we asked her permission to share it with our English-speaking brothers as well. The photo, above, shows Karen, center, with some of the Matheny clan in a recent visit of hers to the Mt Juliet, Tenn., congregation.
Sometimes I try to remember life before the love and grace of God allowed me to be baptized into Jesus Christ for the remission of my sins. After a recent period of intense soul-searching, and the realization that it was my sins that sent Jesus to the cross, I was able to surrender my life to Him and give up running from God. I became a new creation, a Christian, and a sister and daughter of royalty.
Although it’s only been a short time, the memory of the “old me” has started to fade into a few blurred images like one might see in an old photograph album.
Mostly, I remember a lot of spiritual and emotional pain. On the outside, I was alive and appeared happy, but inside I was slowly dying without hope or a future. Those dark pictures have been replaced now with brighter ones, but if I were to look back through the mental photographs long enough, I know I could still see and feel the ugliness I felt in my soul before I came to Jesus for redemption.
But why would I ever want to look back on that when Jesus covered all that ugliness of sin with his blood? He only sees me as beautiful now, and I try to do the same.
When I came to Christ, I died to the past. All the abuse, pain, hurt, and condemnation of sin are dead to me now.
Becoming a Christian was a life-changing decision for me. As a former Roman Catholic, there were many changes in my religious beliefs that needed to be made. There have been things to learn about the gospel, and many things to unlearn.
In many ways, I think I have grown a lot In a fairly short amount of time. In other ways I am still very much a baby Christian, and there are new things to learn about God and the Bible every single day. I’ve made new friendships, and found that regularly assembling with the church and Christian fellowship are as necessary for me as the air I breathe.
I’ve learned to pray from my heart, and that it’s sometimes better to listen to God rather than talk. I’ve found that trying to hide sin from God is not only futile but destructive, and that confession of sins to God liberates and brings peace to my mind and spirit.
I am so spiritually thirsty that it seems I can’t read the Bible enough, or worship enough, pray enough, or learn about God enough. I just want more!
I’m learning to trust again, and that there are those who really do love me unconditionally. I’ve learned to reach out for help, and that there are those who will catch me when I fall.
I’ve learned to rely on the prayers of my brothers and sisters to lift me up to the Father in times of need. I now know that their prayers are powerful and necessary to my success as a Christian.
I’m beginning to understand grace, and that no matter how much I try to do to win God’s approval, or make up for what I’ve done, He will never love me any more nor any less than He did when I was a broken mess.
I’ve discovered that I am actually capable of having peace and joy in my heart. Something foreign to me at a spiritual level for most of my life.
The only regret that I have in becoming a Christian is that I waited so long. I am a senior citizen now, and as I look back on the many wasted years, it saddens me to know those years could have been spent in service to my Lord.
The wonderful thing about God, however, is that He can redeem the past. It doesn’t matter where I’ve been, or how long I stayed there. The only thing that matters now is what I do for Him in the future. I now have hope. The good news of Jesus Christ has turned my broken life into one that only seeks to serve God and others, and to spread His love to everyone around me.
My prayer is that with God’s help, I will spend the rest of my life serving Him, and one day live with Him forever.
Randal and his wife Vicki have lived and worked in Brazil since Nov. 1984. They have three children, two daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren. He likes to read novels in his back-porch hammock. http://randal.us