What my life was like before I met Christ.
I am DG, short for Divina Grace. I knew Jesus since I was a kid. And even if I really didn’t understand, I call Him “Papa” just like the other kids. I pray every night and I knew by then that He loves me so much. And because of that, I’ve always believed that He will never get mad at me.
I grew up in Nueva Ecija and basically lived a simple life together with my family. My father was in the military so we just got to see him once in a month while my mother is a plain housewife who never stopped taking care of us and loving us. We’re not rich, but we’re happy and contented. We’re happy and contented, but that didn’t stop us from having big dreams. We, my brothers and I, went to school and gave our best to have not just good grades, but honors.
I am not that intelligent, but with perseverance, I had good grades all throughout my grade and high school years. I also have many friends who are approved by my parents since they were not just my classmates, they were also my churchmates. Since I grew up in a religious environment, I grew up serving the Lord at church. I’ve always thought that they (the church) need good kids like me who will be in church every Sunday and serve. And that’s what I did. So basically, I was a good girl.
I realized I needed Christ.
But despite that good life, I felt something was wrong. I had a loving family, I had many good friends and I did quite great at school. I had a good life. But during the latter part of my high school life, I felt something was missing. I craved for attention. I longed for love. I couldn’t understand it since I was surrounded by people who love me. So I thought I just needed something different. I needed to try something that I haven’t tried before. I was a good girl, so I thought maybe it’s time to be not-so-good. Maybe, just maybe, my craving will go away if I’d try “new” things.
I graduated from high school and I started my “experiment”. And during that two-month vacation, many things happened. I had my first boyfriend. I made a promise to my parents that I won’t get into a romantic relationship until I finish high school. And since I was a good girl, you see, I didn’t break that promise. But our relationship didn’t work out; it ended up after two months just before I left for college. It was also that time that I first tasted hard liquor and I enjoyed it.
I was the youngest in the family and I was the only girl, and so my father was so strict with me. But that didn’t hinder me from going to different parties and going home very late. I learned to say dirty words and if I won’t say it thru my lips, I’d say it thru my finger. I will never forget those times because I intentionally did it for the sake of my experiment. But even during those times, the longing didn’t fade away.
Then things even turned worse. I took entrance examination in three universities, – CLSU (one from our province), PUP and UP. I prayed to God that it’s fine with me if I’d fail in CLSU and PUP, I wouldn’t mind. Besides I just took those entrance exams for my parents. All my high school years, I’ve dreamed of being in UP Diliman studying Journalism. I took the UP entrance exam with UP Baguio as my first choice because I knew that UP Diliman has a higher passing rate requirement. And so my plan was to take any course in UP Baguio and then transfer to UP Diliman by the second semester. It was carefully planned. But life became cruel and God didn’t hear my prayer. I got the results from CLSU and PUP, I passed; but the UP result didn’t come. The end of enrolment period came and I’ve got no choice, I enrolled in PUP. My brother took care of everything I needed – the apartment near PUP, the school supplies and even the necessary orientation since I was a newbie here. Everything was settled. And then, the UP result came. I passed. But I couldn’t cancel my enrolment in PUP and enroll again in UP for it means a big hassle for my parents and my brother. We’re not rich to afford costly adjustment. Oh yes, I am a frustrated UPian, and I felt like God was so unfair.
I entered PUP with the firm decision that I will totally break the good-girl-rules and continue my experiment. What will I lose anyway? I was already a loser just being in a university that I hate. I was thinking of joining any fraternity or sorority by that time. I’ve thought of joining the Anakbayan, those who always lead the rallies, but I thought I wouldn’t fit there so I trashed the idea. I wasn’t totally focused on my studies and I was just thinking of the things I will “try”. That longing for attention and love didn’t fade away. I became even more thirsty. I knew I needed something. I knew something was really missing. And when I was about to totally wreck my life, God came to my rescue.
How I committed my life to Christ.
One day during our History class, a man came to us and introduced himself as “Kuya Carlo”. He said he’d share something. After a brief introduction, he started talking about God. I lost the interest and I began chatting with my seatmate and didn’t listen. When he asked us to write in another piece of paper if we’re interested to join their bible study, I can’t remember what I’ve written, but I can remember what I was thinking – “Hindi ‘bago’ ang bible study sa’kin kaya hindi ko na ulit susubukan. Wala namang magandang nangyayari eh. Lahat naman ng nagsasabing lingkod sila ng Diyos, hanggang salita lang.. akala mo mabubuting tao, pero hindi naman. Puro mga ipokrito’t ipokrita lang naman.”
But I have this friend, Jo Anne, who was so persistent in inviting us in bible study. Once in a while I joined them, but most of the time I didn’t. I would think of any possible alibi just to avoid that bible study time. If I’m not mistaken, it was August 2004 when I first attended the bible study.
That weekly bible study continued until second semester. Maybe I’ve attended once or twice a month. Then February 2005 came and kuya Carlo invited me to attend a church service in Horizon Ministries. He said there would be a mini party for youth as a pre-valentine celebration. It was February 13. I’ve turned down kuya Carlo’s invitation many times so I’ve thought of saying ‘yes’ by that time just to make him stop inviting me. So I came that Sunday. And to my surprise, for the first time in my whole life, I felt I was truly and genuinely worshiping the Lord. I was just singing; I didn’t raise my hands or clap just like the other people, but in my heart there was that joy I couldn’t explain. That church service ended with so much joy in my heart. But on the other side, there were many questions.
I asked myself if that’s what I was looking for. It’s like: “Eto na ba yung hinahanap kong kulang sa buhay ko?” But I didn’t know the answer. I was thinking that if it was the thing missing, then I had to change my religion. And changing my religion would mean going to different church. It would mean that I’d no longer attend Sunday services with my mother and other friends. There will be a big difference and adjustment in my life. And I couldn’t take such adjustment. I’ve decided that it will be my last attend in Horizon Ministries.
Then Jo Anne invited me again to bible study. I kinda hesitated. I was thinking that I might end up arguing again inside me whether I’d change religion or not. But I attended anyway. And I haven’t thought that it would be the most unforgettable day of my life. I can’t remember what the exact topic was by that time. But there’s this question that will forever mark in my mind: “What if one day iwan ka ng lahat – ng pamilya mo, kaibigan mo, boyfriend o girlfriend – lahat ng taong mahal mo. Saan ka pupunta?” I knew the answer of course. I knew that kuya Carlo wanted us to remember that God will always be there for us no matter what. But for some reason, it hit my heart. It hit my heart like it never did before. I’ve thought, “Oo nga, laging andyan si Lord. Lagi Syang andyan kaya hindi ko na pinansin. Lagi Syang andyan kaya binalewala ko nalang Sya.” And I felt so much guilt in my heart. I felt so much pain. I grew up serving the Lord because I thought He needs good kids like me. I never realized that it was me, a sinner like me, who needs a perfect Lover. That no matter what happens, whether I serve Him or not, whether I stay with Him or run away from Him, He will always be there for me, He will always wait for me. And I asked myself, who am I to be loved by this God? Who am I to be loved like this that He even died on the cross for me? And I realized how foolish I was. I’ve started my life with the perfect Lover, but I chose to leave Him. Buti nalang sobrang gracious si Lord at sobrang mapagmahal.. and He never stopped pursuing me..
That day, February 22, 2005, I went home and ran straight to my room, knelt down and told God I will never run away again and He will be my Lord and Master.
The difference it has made in my life.
“Why did you change religion?” That’s the question I’ve heard from relatives and friends who knew that I was already a Born Again Christian. And my answer: “It’s beyond changing religion, it’s being more in love with God and serving Him truly.”
It was amazing. Just after I made that commitment to God, I automatically stopped saying bad words and my appetite for wine/hard liquor has gone. I couldn’t explain how it happened, but I knew that God was really working inside my heart. And I knew that there were so many works to be done inside me.
My whole family didn’t agree with my decision. It was not an easy journey. My brothers always tell me not to go to church. They were my guardians here in Manila and so they were accountable with me. But I told them they don’t have to worry. I didn’t ask for extra money during Sundays, I used what I’ve saved during the whole week. I didn’t argue with my brothers whenever they tell me that they don’t really like what I’m doing – attending Sunday service and weekly bible study. I just told them that I want to continue serving the Lord just like when I was a kid. And I don’t know what exactly happened, but in time they stopped nagging me. In fact, my eldest brother even started giving me extra allowance so I’d have enough money until Sunday.
My life was not perfect, my problems didn’t go away and just like you, I have my own ups and downs. But with God, my life became easier and more exciting. Maybe if I didn’t commit my life to Christ, I wouldn’t be who I am right now. With God’s help, I am now a certified public accountant. Maybe if continued my “experiment”, I wouldn’t even graduate. And now I realized that God really did everything just to win me back. He didn’t let me receive the UP result in time so that I’d go to PUP and there I’d meet the people He would use to get me away from my sinful and wasted life. God is really amazing.
Now, I’m privileged to work as a part-time accountant in a Christian School – Messiah College Foundation. And two years ago, May 2011, I committed my life to Christ as His worker. Some call me “pastora” since I also get the privilege to speak His word in pulpit. And I can say that it’s the greatest privilege I can ever have. To be used by God and be His servant will never compare to any position in any big companies in the whole world.
Once, I decided to destroy my life. But God reminded me of His beautiful plans. Now, my life is fully surrendered to Him. It’s not perfect and it will never be, but having a perfect God beside me makes it wonderful and beautiful beyond limit!
Invitation for YOU
God said, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). It is a beautiful promise, isn’t it? I’ve always hold on to that promise. But I’ve realized that I’d never get that gift of beautiful future unless I have in my heart the Giver of that gift.
God is always there. He is always offering that beautiful gift. And all of us, that’s what we want – a beautiful life. But you know what? When you have the Giver of that gift, it will be more than enough. Walking with God everyday is already the most beautiful life we could ever live.
I know you have your own struggles and problems, I have my own too. And I’m sure that once in a while you also want to try something new or something different just to have a satisfied life. But why don’t you try Jesus? If you’re willing to do anything just to have a good and beautiful life, why don’t you give God a chance? Just try Him my friend. He’s longing for that chance. He is knocking at the door of your heart. And I hope that TODAY, you will choose to open it 🙂
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with, and he with me.”
– Revelation 3:20
- A testimony given from the heart. (pnburling.wordpress.com)
- What does it mean to bear testimony? (standinginholyplaces2013.wordpress.com)