My Story (Part III) - Rebirth: How Jesus Transformed my Life
Speaking to God for the first time, after a long time
Driven by the despair and hopelessness that I was feeling, with the seemingly tiny crack of hope I saw, I felt compelled to talk to God again. It initially felt incredibly stupid, as if I was talking to a figure of my imagination, but the Spirit supernaturally amplified the mustard seed size faith I had that God was real, true and would hear. I can’t remember all the specifics of what I said at that moment. All I remember is that I spoke to a God who I have not talked to in any way since I was a child.
At the time, I saw no way out of the mess that I drove myself into. My university grades suffered from my waywardness, I accumulated financial debt from poor spending habits, and I had a lot of anxiety about how I was to survive after I graduated (if I graduated). I had a lot of fear about consequences and threats from my past relationships and the fear that ex-partners might try to sabotage my future.
In one incomprehensible groan, my spirit expressed the whole weight I felt on my shoulders at that time to God the Father. Consumed with guilt and regret, I asked God for forgiveness and help.
The moment the Spirit dwelled in my heart
As I sought God in quiet tears, I saw no bright lights and heard no thunderous voice, but I felt a gentle and quiet change come about me. The anxiety that had shadowed me for so long seemed to have dissolved, the physical weight I felt on my shoulders was lighter. In place of what was taken, a sensed a series of promises somehow took root in the core of my soul; promises that thoughts that I never had before seemed real and concrete to me. At that moment I recognised the cycles of depression that I had gone through and felt a truth placed upon me that affirmed that I would not suffer from depression in the same way ever again. The second promise was that the men who have harmed me would not be permitted to harm me again. The third was that some things that I have been inflicted with would be healed and would never return.
Those promises remain true even after the two and a half years on that I’m writing this.
New Desires and Old Desires
A week later from that day where I spoke to God I realised that there had been a significant change in my behaviour and desires that I did not intentionally pursue or try to chance. Habitual thought patterns and fantasies that I indulged in seemed to vanish overnight. Even my spending habits had changed.
Instead, I had a new burning desire to read the Bible for the first time; not just to read it but to study it. I had in my mind a book full of notes, handwritten annotations, highlights and underlinings. I was no simple desire, but a real hunger, appetite and thirst.
And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. (Ezekiel 11:19-20 ESV)
God's Protection and Provision over me
In that same week that God spoke to me, my aunt asked me to her office to show me a church she suggests I check out. The church was located just a 2-minute walk from the new apartment that I was due to move into in a couple of weeks; I could not believe the coincidence. More incredibly still, my Missional Community Group that I would later attend also gathered just across the road from me in the heart of the city centre. God seemed to have planned everything out for me.
A New Ability to Say "No," to Things
Having now returned home to the UK, I was a month old Christian and was now living with my friend in the city apartment near my church. It was around this time that I was contacted by an old hook-up; a handsome and wealthy cosmetic and facial surgeon whom I would typically not say "no" to. We met up for drinks, and I invited him back to my flat anticipating that he wanted sex. Despite my hesitations, I fell back to old habits and allowed things to get physical. Usually, when things had gone as far as this, I'd normally try to save myself the embarrassment and go through with it as I have done many times before. This time was different, I felt different, and I felt like I could say "no". Half dressed, I stopped and told him that I didn't want to go any further and that I was a Christian now.
Awkwardly, we dressed, and he left with some parting words. The next day I menstruated. In my spirit, I felt that God allowed it all to happen to show me something and to assure me of a legitimate change and work that He had accomplished in me. He showed me that His Spirit held me now and that He has taken old desires away from me and has truly given me new ones. More importantly, that the work He had done in me gave me the ability to say "no" to things that I had no power to say "no" to before. He showed me there and then that I was a changed person, that I was reborn, and my salvation was real.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV)