“Since we believe that Christ died for everyone, we also believe that we have all died to the old life we used to live. What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!”
2 Corinthians 5:14,17
Sunday, May 7th, 2006
My journey began about two years ago. I had always believed in Jesus Christ due to my Catholic background, but I was limited because of what I was taught in school. I never really understood what it meant to be a born-again Christian. Like most people, I understood it in literal and physical terms, and wondered, “How can you be ‘born-again’ when you haven’t even died yet?” However, over the past two years, I decided to keep an open-mind to learn more about it. I had just come out of a serious relationship and for the first time, I was having real difficulty in nursing school. In fact, I doubted that I would even be able to pass the class, let alone finish the program. I was really unsure about where the direction of my life was going.
On Ash Wednesday 2004, I went to see “The Passion of the Christ.” Some people called it anti-Semitic, which made me do some research, and I found out that historically, the level of brutality that the Roman Empire used before crucifixions, was very accurate to the movie. Even though the Jewish religious leaders demanded Christ’s crucifixion, I didn’t really view it as anti-Semitic, since it was the Roman soldiers who tortured Him. Yet, no one referred to it as “anti-Roman.” That is like saying “Schindler’s List” was anti-German, even though the Jews were slaughtered by the Nazi’s. The comment that really intrigued me the most was when Mel Gibson stated that the Jews weren’t solely to blame for Christ’s death — we ALL killed Him with our sins, and that He took on the sins of mankind in order to save us.
Later, I watched the movie “Left Behind,” which is based on the book of Revelation from the Bible. The main point I took away from the movie was that no matter what you have done in your life, no matter how bad, as long as you believe in Jesus Christ and His teachings, and genuinely repent for your sins, you will go to Heaven. This astonished me, because my Catholic background always taught that you got to Heaven based on faith and good deeds. This led me to begin reading the Bible to see if this was true. One of the first Scriptures I read, that I was somewhat familiar with, was John 3:16:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
In the late summer of 2004, I reluctantly attended a Bible study group. I was on guard because I didn’t want to be considered one of those “Bible Thumpers” or “Jesus Freaks.” But, I have always had an interest in learning about the Bible, once I realized that I hadn’t been taught the Bible accurately. The thing that amazed me the most was how knowledgeable the leader of our Bible study group was about the Bible. The main concern I had was, “With all the different religious views and interpretations about the Bible, how do I know that this guy was teaching the Bible accurately?” Catholics have one view, Protestants have another, Jehovah Witnesses believe something else, and they all consider themselves “Christians.” Well, the thing I began to notice right away was how he backed up the Bible with historical and archaeological evidence. For instance, what certain words and phrases meant 2000 years ago, compared to what they mean today. This led me to do my own historical research, which correlated to how he taught.
As time went on, I began to learn that good things don’t always happen to you just because you become a Christian. Jesus taught that you can pray for anything, but it doesn’t always coincide with God’s plan. Once you begin to trust in Christ, rather than thinking you can do it all on your own, you have truly accepted Him. I found this to be very true with all the trials and tribulations I went through in nursing school. At times, I didn’t even know if I would be able to pass certain classes. In fact, I had to drop a couple of classes and ended up receiving a marginal in one of my skills lab competencies (i.e., academic probation). If I failed a class or received another marginal, I would be expelled from school. I had a student loan that would have to be repaid to the school if that happened, I had a year to go, and I had doubts about my ability to finish the program. However, I decided to put my faith and fate in Christ’s hands, just as Christ did right before He was arrested prior to His crucifixion:
“Father, everything is possible for You. Please take this cup of suffering away from Me. Yet, I want Your will, not Mine.”
When I read this, it inspired me. Realizing what I was experiencing paled in comparison, with what Christ knew what He was about to endure. I spent a lot of time praying, always ending my prayers with “Let Your will be done, not mine.” Although it took me an additional year and lots of patience, prayers, and faith, I FINALLY graduated. During this time, I found a church that taught the Bible similar to the way my Bible study teacher taught it. Unlike many Catholic and Lutheran services I have attended, this Community Fellowship church spent a great deal of time on the Bible, and how it applied to everyday life in today’s world. I was really impressed with the Pastor and the genuineness I experienced from the church members every week.
However, my next trial was unexpected. I had spent exhaustive hours preparing for State Boards, knowing that I had always had difficulty passing standardized tests. Although I spent a lot of time praying and asking God for knowledge and guidance, while others prayed for me, after answering all 265 questions (the maximum number of questions you can be given), I ended up failing Boards. I was devastated. All that hard work over the past 3 1/2 years seemed to be all for nothing. However, I remembered a passage that I had recently received in a card — “We don’t always know what the plan is, but we always know there’s a plan.” The card included a photo of a Bible with a crucifix on it. This reminded me that God’s plan doesn’t always coexist with ours, and that God makes things happen in HIS time, not ours. Even though I was upset, I didn’t let it shake my faith. I continued to pray and prepare to retake it. The night before the exam (May 3rd) I asked the Lord again for knowledge and guidance. I knew that didn’t mean I would automatically pass. When I took it again, I thought I had failed it again. In fact, I honestly thought I did worse, and I received all 265 questions — AGAIN!!! Although I was saddened, it didn’t last long, because I knew that God had a plan for me, and I decided to accept that plan, whatever it was.
On May 5th, I had my official graduation at Rosary Cathedral, where I spent a lot of time in prayer, with the thought, “Let Your will be done Lord, not mine.” Upon exiting the church, a fellow graduate came up to me to congratulate me on passing. I thought she meant passing classes and graduating. She meant passing Boards. Apparently, she had been checking the Ohio Board of Nursing Web site after I took it, and found out prior to coming to graduation. I didn’t even know! At that point, fellow graduates, who kept me in their prayers, came up to me congratulating me. Even with all the excitement of my accomplishment, I never lost site of the fact that the Lord was responsible for allowing me to pass, and I gave Him thanks at that moment. He answered my prayers in HIS time, not mine. THAT was His plan! Just as I never gave up on Him, He never gave up on me.
On Sunday, May 7th, I participated in my adult baptism with some of my Community Fellowship church family members. Although I had been baptized as a baby either by having water sprinkled or poured on my forehead, and had my confirmation as a child, I decided to be baptized since I had a better understanding of what baptism was. It was explained to me that baptism isn’t required to enter Heaven — only faith and acceptance of Christ as our Lord is enough. I decided that since I am a genuine follower of Christ, I wished to be baptized the same way that Christ and His early followers were. Baptize comes from the Greek word “baptizo” meaning “dip” or “immerse.” As mentioned before, as a baby, I was either sprinkled or poured with water. I was never dipped nor immersed, nor do I have any recollection of the experience. Many Scriptures describe people emerging from large bodies of water after baptism took place (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:9,10; Matthew 3:6; Acts 8:38). Baptism identifies you with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-10). As I stood in the waters of baptism with my Pastor, in a pool inside a neighboring church, I pictured myself with Christ hanging on the cross. As I was lowered backwards into the water, I pictured myself being buried with Christ. As I was raised from the water, I pictured a resurrection to a new life with Christ. At this moment, I had publically identified myself with Christ saying that I was dying to my old way of life. I symbolized being buried with Christ and rising to live a life dedicated to Him, because I am now His “disciple” — a born-again Christian (2 Corinthians 5:14,17). This symbol of baptism, which was explained by my Pastor, makes much more sense and has so much more meaning to me, than the baptism I “experienced” as a baby. I hope it makes some sense to you as well. Through this whole experience of being baptized, the thing that meant the most to me was that I was able to share my experience with my mother — another born-again Christian who was also baptized that day.
After experiencing God’s Grace, the song “Amazing Grace” has become much more meaningful to me:
How sweet the sound
That SAVED a wretch like me.
I once was LOST
But now am FOUND.
But now, I SEE!
This experience doesn’t mean that I can’t or won’t sin. I am basically the same person on the outside, and will continue to sin and make mistakes. The only difference is that I am living my life for Christ based on His teachings in the Scriptures. This doesn’t mean that I am a martyr or that I can’t enjoy life. I’m just not self-absorbed in fulfilling my own selfish desires, if I know they won’t make God happy. I don’t know what God’s plan is for me, or where He will continue to lead me, but I will continue to follow Him and trust in Him for the rest of my life.
Thank you for taking the time to read my testimony. If you would like to read a truly inspiring testimony, click here — http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/testimony.html. It inspired me so much, I decided to create my own.
May the Lord bless you always!
Steve Christie, RN
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
C. S. Lewis, author