I have been a Christian for almost 10 years now, if you told me when I was a wild child or during my 20s or 30’s that in my 60s, I'd be a born-again Christian, I would have laughed out loud. Hilarious! But God had a plan for Jan, and the laughs on me.
I've looked back at how this all happened and even now it surprises and delights me. 10 years ago I was in network marketing and I had strife in my business and although I reached a level that most people don't reach, had a free car and lifestyle bonuses, I wasn't happy, there were too many things that didn't feel right and I had to sort out the strife.
My friend and mentor who I'd been watching for many years, was right there for me. She was the highest ranking leader in this company and so calm and so loving and I wanted what it was that she had. I didn’t know that it was having God in the centre of her life, that made her so special.
I decided one Sunday to visit her church. I told myself that I wasn't going for any particular reason I was just ‘checking it out’ and to be honest I’d heard weird things about how different it was to ‘normal’ church but I had noticed that the most loving and kind of my MLM related friends, were a part of that particular church.
I wasn’t aware at that stage that I belonged to the largest Christian organisation in that particular company. They were taking out all the accolades and achievements year after year and a lot of that can be attributed to the Christian values shown and taught in their organisation.
I was also told, by someone not in the church, that I didn’t have to be a member of that church to do well in life or in the business. I took that onboard for a while and stayed away but then when things got worse and I felt I was at rock bottom, I decided I would find out for myself.
The only good thing at that point was my home-life. We had a very strong marriage and our son was wonderful but everything else around me was driving me crazy, sucking the joy out of me and making me unhappy.
The strange thing was that nobody that had suggested visiting the church, was actually there that Sunday. I texted three people to say that I was 'thinking’ of coming, I wanted to get some moral support but in the end I had to go on my own. As I look back now, I realise that God wanted me to take responsibility and admit to myself that I was looking for something.
I cried through the whole service that day, I had no idea what was going on at the time, but looking back I see that God was showing me what overwhelming love felt like, He was offering me something that I didn’t even realise I was missing and I had absolutely no idea why I was crying but at the end of the morning, when the Pastor asked if anyone would like to receive Jesus, I almost ran to her side!
I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and I can honestly say, it was the best thing I've ever done. It was as if a big burden had gone. I can’t even name that burden but I knew it had been lifted.
I was very fortunate to be with a group of Christians who were so loving and accepting and to be a part of a church that was free and Holy Spirit led, because I had been in Church of England / Anglican / Catholic services and found them really hard to enjoy with all the ‘repeating after me’ and the overly formal settings. None of them actually taught me the person who is Jesus and the importance of Holy Spirit.
The Bible scared me – I had tried to read it before and started at the beginning and the God I saw was angry and mean and was always killing or punishing His people. There were so many rules and commands and I didn’t think it was for me.
I think the mistake people make is starting at Genesis and ploughing through the Old Testament, really tough going for a newbie! I did discover later that the Old Testament tells or 'points to' what will be coming in the New Testament. It’s fascinating to learn about, but that came later.
I was advised to start at the gospel of John in the New Testament first and really discover who Jesus was and what happened to Him, why He was sent to earth and what His sacrifice on the cross was all about. As I read about Him and watched some movies, old and new I actually fell in love with who He is. Sound nuts, I know. The very graphic crucifixion scene in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ changed me for ever. I sobbed through it all. The sight of Jesus's mother kissing his bloody feet while he was on the cross, was the most difficult part for me.
At the River of Life church people just did what they wanted, there was a formal agenda during the service but some people would be down the front dancing, others would be clapping and swaying in their seats, some sang and prayed in tongues, others put their hands in the air and some were just lost in their own thoughts, it was such a joyous atmosphere and I loved it!
I recognise that the 'something in the air' I was feeling was the Holy Spirit.
The following week after I got saved, my husband and son came to church with me and they are both saved too.
I spent the first few years in that church crying most of the time, tears of joy, gratitude and sadness as I dealt with so many things in me. My husband and I were baptised in the Holy Spirit and sometime later we were also baptised in water.
I had heard along the way that ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit’ was not for today's church, that it was in the Bible but not something that was for modern times. Well, all I can say is that Jesus said He would send the Holy Spirit to EVERYONE.....not everyone up to a certain date. It’s right there in the bible and it happened at Pentecost. There has been such a change in me. I literally feel Holy Spirit in me and on me.
I now try to live my life as if Jesus was sitting right next to me (very hard when I'm driving and come across idiots in their cars lol) and it might sound a bit weird and very cliched, but He is in the very centre of everything that I do.
I'm not a religious nut! In fact I believe in relationship not religion, I don't quote scriptures at people, I don’t condemn them or judge the way they live their lives, I don't tell them what they should or shouldn't do, I just share on a day to day basis what Jesus means to me, how I live life, my beliefs and expectations, no-one is surprised that I am a Christian. It’s obvious to all around me….I am here if they want to ask questions, tell me their story or give their lives to Jesus as I did.
I read once that when Jesus came to earth, there were around 600 man-made rules. When His disciples asked Jesus which commandment was the most important, He said to only have one God and love your neighbour as yourself. He came to set us free not only from sin, but from religiosity and ritual.
If you think about it, if you are living a life based around those two commandments, the rest just follows naturally. If you love God, you would also accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour because that's the only way to be with God in heaven and you wouldn’t kill, steal, lie and judge etc if you truly loved your neighbour.
When I was saved , all those things I'd worried about before – the rules I’d have to follow, the things I’d have to give up, became things I didn’t even want in my life and things that I didn't even miss when they were gone. It was a conscious decision to follow Jesus but the rest of it became things I really didn’t want to do anymore, they were not things someone told me to stop doing.
I have discernment in me, I know when things are not right, I feel it inside me and believe me, sometimes that can be very inconvenient!
I mean my hubby and I can’t sit and watch a movie that has nudity, sex scenes or swearing in it. Movies we liked and watched before, are now off the list. We cannot physically sit there. It’s a butterflies in my tum kind of feeling, an unease.
So I ask myself, would Jesus watch this movie with me? If not, we don’t watch but if friends want to watch, then that's OK. We'd never tell them not to...that's not what we are about.
I believe Holy Spirit is in me, Holy Spirit, God and Jesus are one. So where I am, what I’m doing and saying, it’s in front of God. I feel it in my spirit when it's not right.
If someone had quoted scriptures at me, before I realised I was looking, or told me that I was a sinner and was going to hell, I would have told them exactly where to go (and with some very colourful language and gestures) and I definitely wouldn't have explored who Jesus was or what others saw in Him. I dislike that type of religious ranting and much prefer the relationship side of Christianity.
This was the right thing for me because I really felt I was missing out on something that I saw in others, and there had to be something more to life than I was living. It was a God shaped hole! There's your cliche hahahaha.
Maybe you recognise that you have something missing too...if so, message me and let's chat....if not, then that's OK.
The most surprising thing I have discovered as I journal and chat to God on a daily basis - is that He was there all the time. I can recognise when He helped me in the past, took care of me, gave me an answer, kept me from making terrible choices and on a couple of occasions even saved my life.
He is not some secret part of me, but I understand that it's also not just words but actions that draw people closer. My most important desire is to be authentic, true to myself, so no matter where I am, no matter who I am with, if people don't like the Christian part of me and can't get past that, I do feel sad, but then that's their issue not mine. I will just continue to be the kind, loving respectful person I am towards them and their beliefs, and still be steadfast in mine.
I still have lots of questions, even after 10 years, it is a lifetime journey and I started very late! I still want to know 'why' all the time.... I imagine God saying ...."What? another 'why' question Jan?" even though I know He knows what I'm going to ask next!
This is also about believing what you can’t see.
That’s faith. I’d never go back. I like this me.