In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul reminds us that the gospel is the message which we “received,” in which we “stand,” and by which we are “being saved.” The Scriptures push us to not only look back to when we were saved but to press forward knowing God is still at work in us.
Last Sunday, Sam (pictured above with his wife Rachel) shared his testimony of how he was saved and is still being saved by God’s continued work of grace. Read along below.
The Lord saved me when I was about 7 years old. My dad was a pastor and church planter, so I heard the good news of Jesus regularly. I remember riding in the car with my family on a rainy day, when the Lord opened my eyes to my need of a Savior. So, I prayed in my heart, and asked Jesus to forgive my sins and save me. Subsequent to that miracle, God began the long and slow process of heart transformation.
When I was a teenager, I loved sports. I was particularly drawn to basketball and strongly desired to play college ball. God had other plans for me, though. I injured my shoulder in a game, and missed out on the last 2 years of high school basketball. I really struggled with that situation, as I felt like God had taken my dream from me. Ultimately, He did, but for His bigger purposes. I remember my parents counseling me to trust God, even when I don’t understand. Later, I realized that my real problem was that basketball was too high a priority in my life. Like an idol.
When I entered college, my focus shifted from basketball to academics. I had to work a job to pay for college, so I was either studying or working all the time. It is a wonder that I ever got married. Rachel and I had the same major, and nearly all the same classes. So, God literally had to put her right in front of me, and I am so thankful for that. During my senior year of college, one of my friends asked me why I worked so hard. At that time, I honestly did not know. Looking back, I realize that I was looking for my identity in something other than Christ. That thing was Achievement. Another idol to me.
After we got married, I finished up my training. Then we ended up here in Athens by God’s leading. That was almost 14 years ago. At that time, I put all my energy into work. But it wasn’t as fulfilled as I had hoped it would be. I started to become depression and continued to feel this way for several months. I started hating my work. My parents advised me to pray that God would either change my circumstances or change my heart. I prayed that prayer daily for months. I believed God would change my circumstances and move us to another job. But thankfully, God did not change my circumstances. He opened my eyes to the opportunities of ministry and fruitful work all around me. Once I took my eyes off of myself, the fog of depression began to lift. I realize now that work has been another idol in my life.
The main point I am trying to make is that God has consistently and patiently removed distractions (or idols) in my life over the years and called me seek Him first. I wish I could say I am complete. I wish I could say the gospel is always the center of my life, but I still battle with sin and these distractions. Yet, God is so patient, kind, and gracious with me. He continues to transform my heart. He has given me a loving wife who gently points out my pride. He has given me several godly friends that keep me accountable. And we are so thankful for this church that consistently preaches the Word and the gospel. Praise the Lord for His transforming grace!