With the girls, we like to celebrate milestones in their spiritual lives. We passed on about a week ago. Here is Bianca’s account of what God has been doing in her life over the last year. It’s a bit long, but I wanted to share it with you all. I was especially encouraged to read the end because it showed me that the study I did with the girls about assurance of salvation in 1st John actually did sink in! Praise the Lord for all he’s doing!
“This is the first time in my entire life that I’ve walked with the Lord a whole year, not so perfectly that I feel like an apostle or anything, but I did it. Last year you all remember that I was really, really lost in every aspect of my life. I had a lot of problems, I hardly talked to anyone in my family, I was argumentative, I did what I wanted, I kept escaping from the house, I listened to demonic music and was very rebellious. You knew me then. But on January 3rd, something really powerful happened to me and gave me the power to change. (A group of Christian ladies ministered to her and prayed over her until she was able to give up a lot of the things she’s been holding on to.) And after that happened, I really wanted to give myself to the Lord. And that has not been easy at all. I have had a lot of discouragement, testing, and even “deserts” in my life, and these things have marked me and made me strong to continue forward. But this month, I complete a year of being in the church, despite all the bad times, even though I didn’t always pray and sometimes wanted to go back to my old life. I don’t know why I wanted to go back, but sometimes you think you were just better off then. But today, I’m still in the church, and I keep growing every day and trying to read my Bible. For example, this week I read something beautiful in Jeremiah. When you come to the Lord, you have to be restored. This is in Jeremiah 15:15-21, and it says:
“O LORD, you know; remember me and visit me, and take vengeance for me on my persecutors. In your forbearance take me not away; know that for your sake I bear reproach. Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts… Therefore thus says the LORD: “If you return, I will restore you, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth. They shall turn to you, but you shall not turn to them. And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you, declares the LORD. I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.”
And so this taught me that even with everything that I’ve been through, God has been with me. And even though sometimes we feel that he has not been with us, He’s always there in our most difficult times. And we’re always going to fall; God knows we’re going to fall and fall and fall again. But God’s word says that seven times the righteous man will fall, but he will get up again with new strength (Proverbs 24:16). So God is there to restore you. The text says that if you repent and if you reconcile with God he will be there to restore you. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, even if it was really bad, or if you think that you’ve lost everything, or something very precious. God is always there to restore you and to take you by the hand and lead you on. He erases your sin, He erases your past and a new tomorrow begins.
And so I’m very happy to be here today with God. At the beginning, like January through September, it was really great, I was praying all the time, I was fasting, and I practically lived at church! Then it was different. I got discouraged and I didn’t want to go to church or pray or read my Bible, and I did some things that I probably shouldn’t have done. But God was always there telling me “Here I am. If you turn back to me, I will restore you and my hand will always be with you.” Many times he told me that he was with me. What God does with a person… he always finishes his work. And when he puts his eye on someone, when he seals that person, there is nothing that can tear that person away from his hand. For example, if Amy (another girl in the group) is destined for God, even if she runs in one direction or another, she will always be with God. Because the Bible also says that whether in the heavens, or under the earth, or under a rock, or in the deep places in the ocean, God will be there. There will be no place to hide yourself. And that is what happened to me. I wanted to run and hide, but God called me, and here I am and I give him thanks.”