BY BRENDA LYSAK
I was miraculously healed of Crohn’s disease when I was twenty seven years old, eleven years after diagnosis. That was the first time I felt loved. Thus began about an eight year search for God. I started attending church again.
Remarkably I was invited by my banker, Dave to get right with God in an unusual way. This was about a three year business relationship. He treated me as an equal. I remember feeling normal around him, all the while on a downward spiral in my personal life.
I grew up in a home where we went to church three times a week but knew nothing of a relationship with God. It was an angry, abusive, and an emotionally neglectful environment. The only emotion I remember is hate. I hated anyone who might have had something to do with my existence.
One day as I sunk deeper into despair, I wailed to God to please help me to be born again; I felt too stupid to figure it out! Even though I had responded to alter calls in my youth, I was haunted by 2 Corinthians 5:17. “When you are born again the old passes away and everything becomes brand new.” The old had instead gotten older and there was certainly no sign of anything new. I experienced deep disappointment with this awareness. I couldn’t give or receive love, was devoid of joy, hope, and faith. I was a very depressed, negative person.
Not too long after that desperate prayer, Dave told me that he knew something that would change my life. Read Romans chapters one through six every day for thirty days. He said that about day fifteen, I would start to get it. And that’s exactly what happened. Romans 1:19 says “God has shown who He is in Creation and written the truth on our hearts. Therefore you have no excuse.”
My moment of awakening is still very fresh in my memory. As I was reading I realized that I had excuses. Suddenly they felt evil. I was filled with enormous guilt, which opened my eyes for the first time to God’s remedy. Every aspect of being saved is addressed in those early chapters of Romans and I fed on those truths day after day, learning that believing is what saves me. Proof or good works are the result of believing.
Dave then encouraged me to add the corresponding chapter of Proverbs each day to the six chapters of Romans I was reading. After I had that down he added five chapters of Psalms. The Word became my daily lifeline. My mind was being washed with God’s ideas. The grip of despair lifted the moment I confessed sin of disbelief and began to trust and believe in God, but I would not realize that until months later.
I became aware of my sin, and lost my preoccupation with other peoples’ sin. This renewal was happening in spite of continued miserable circumstances surrounding me. I was engulfed with shame.
About three months later I realized that I loved God and understood that I had a relationship with Him. This awareness was new to me in every way as I had not experienced normal bonding with a parent.
After reading the whole book of Romans I went to the ‘card catalog’ at the beginning of my Bible to find the next book to read, just like I did at the library. I chose a book in the Old or New Testament and read it like I read any book. Some books of the Bible were short so I read them in a day. Others took several days. I checked each one off with a date as I finished them until I had read each of the sixty-six books.
This resulted in a new measuring stick for truth. I was surprised at God’s take on religion. The gospels give a quick picture of who God is. What a surprise to discover that losers such as myself were exactly who God was particularly interested in. I experienced emotional healing during this time. I had been numb or shut down inside. I can still remember the place and moment I noticed the absence of shame.
Ever since I experienced God through his Word, I have been amazed at the fads of Christianity that sweep through the Christian community. One such fad is the idea that I can forgive myself. I hear people talking about the need to forgive themselves but have not heard of anyone actually accomplishing it. The Bible never speaks of it. Perhaps it is impossible. When we confess our sins, according to 1 John 1:9 we are promised forgiveness. Forgiving ourselves ceases to be an issue.
I am excited that salvation is not just getting my big toe into Heaven someday, but it is for today. I discovered from reading books of the Bible like a book, Salvation is multifaceted; I can be saved from myself, and from situations with people, and from my past. I have no excuse, nor do I need one. I can become healthy and whole in every way.