There is something that has been heavy on my heart all week that I want to share here tonight. It is my testimony…how the Lord Jesus Christ found me and saved me.
I don’t remember a day in my life when I didn’t know who Jesus Christ was. Just as a little child learns his letters, numbers and colors, I learned about God, what Jesus did on the cross, and that the Bible was true from my earliest days. I don’t remember ever not knowing.
I remember being 6 years old and having been in Sunday School/church and then a Christian school, I heard the gospel shared every week. One night, I sat thinking of what I had heard…that I was a sinner, the penalty for my sin was hell, Jesus died to pay for my sin, and I could go to heaven to be with Him someday if I just asked Him to save me. So that night, I prayed and asked Jesus to forgive my sins and save me.
I’m sure I was sincere and I know I did not want to go to hell and I did believe in my head that Jesus had died for me, but it did not reach my heart.
Romans 10:10- For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness
I was always what people would call a “good” girl. My parents taught me to work hard, and I did. I got very good grades, did my homework, did my chores, and stayed out of trouble. I was active in church…Sunday school, Awanas, choirs, playing piano as needed. Between Sunday School, Christian School, Awanas and the encouragement of my parents, I memorized hundreds of Bible verses. I was taught to read my Bible every day and pray and most of the time I did. As I got older, I went on short term mission trips and later went to work with a missionary during my college years. I attended Bible College.
But I was lost. While I thought I knew all about God and would easily tell you that I believed in Jesus, I did not know Jesus. He did not know me. He was not my Savior because I did not need Him. And I didn’t know it.
From the outside, most anyone who knew me would say things such as, “Jaynee is such a good young lady…She serves the Lord…She loves the Lord…She has such a good, clean life.” And I would have agreed. I thought I was good. I thought I was serving the Lord. I thought I loved the Lord.
Man looketh on the outward appearance but the Lord looketh on the heart (I Sam. 16:7).
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. (Matthew 23:25 and 27)
Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:21-23)
I do remember being in church and trying to feel close to God. I thought that I “was saved” and was taught not to rely on my feelings for the assurance of my salvation, but I would see people that seemed to have such a sweet close fellowship with the Lord. I saw their eyes fill with tears as the gospel was told; I saw them kneel down in brokenness. And I didn’t know what that was like. I remember trying to cry because I felt that I should. I remember trying to be very sorry over my sin, because I should. But I didn’t really feel I was that bad. Even when I did wrong things, I sort of pushed them out of my mind. After all, they weren’t as bad as the things others had done. Besides, overall, I always obeyed, was almost always good, and nobody is perfect. I would just try harder.
When I thought back over my life, when those foggy memories of dark times would pop up, I never dwelt on them…I didn’t like to think about them. I was sorry I ever did them and usually it wasn’t really my fault anyways. I had been pushed into doing something I didn’t want to do. I had been provoked. It wouldn’t have happened if the circumstances had been different. I always did good. It wasn’t in my nature to be mean or immoral or to deceive or to hate or hurt another. I was good.
I remember hearing testimonies when I was younger of those whom the Lord had saved. They would share how lost they were…they would share how sinful their heart was…they would share how far they had gone from the Lord…and then when He found them and they came to Him, the amazing, undeserved, wonderful joy and grace that filled their hearts. I actually thought to myself that it would be neat to have a testimony like that…to have needed the Lord that much. Because I never had been that bad, so it wasn’t as special to me. I often wondered what it would be like to have that much love for the Lord…
And while I never knew it, He was still seeking me. And He was going to give me that testimony that I had always longed for…
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us. (Ephesians 2:4)
I got married, I had children, and 8 years later, we came here to Mexico. And here, out in the middle of the desert, away from all I had ever known, for the first time, I began to seek the Lord.
I came to realize how much I needed His provision, His protection, His help. And He just wanted me to see how much I needed Him. He wanted me to be His. He wanted to save me.
One day, I remember thinking and imagining, “What if I were to stand before God someday and He were to say to me that I was not His child…that He never knew me. And he was to condemn me to eternal punishment in the lake of fire.” And as I thought of that, the first thing that came to my mind was, “That isn’t fair. I’ve served you my whole life and I don’t deserve that.” And as soon as I thought that, a fear came over me. Did I really think that?
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isaiah 64:6)
For the first time in my life, those feelings and memories that I had pushed down so far, began to surface. What I saw was so ugly and dirty! I saw far past just the outward things I had done, but saw deeper and deeper into my heart…and it was so wicked. My motives…so impure. My thoughts…so selfish. My heart…so proud.
The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it. (Jeremiah 17:9)
I read God's Word as never before. And while I found comfort therein, my heart was often pierced, for His Word is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
I went back and forth for months. Some days I felt fine, and then some days, I couldn’t shake the burden…I would wake up in the night so scared that I was lost. I wanted to do the right thing and tried all the harder. But then, when what was in my heart would seep out, I felt so guilty.
I thought about my life.
The scribes and Pharisees were the “righteous”, “spiritual” leaders of their day. They knew the Scriptures more than anyone. They "did everything right".
I was a scribe/Pharisee/hypocrite!
My entire life, I just wanted to be loved and accepted. But I felt my entire life that I had to do something to be loved. I had to be perfect. I had to do right.
I lived my entire life wanting others to think good of me, to love me. I lived my entire life to please man.
When I messed up, I felt unloved and felt like I had to do much to make up for it and to get back into good standing and to earn forgiveness and restored fellowship.
And that is how I viewed the Lord.
The Lord is so faithful, so good, so long suffering, so gracious. He never tires of calling us to Him. He never tires of looking for those who are lost. And so He sought me.
One day, I wrote down a list of all those things in my past that weighed so heavily on my heart. It wasn’t a huge list, but it was so daunting…a burden far to great to bear. There were things written that even my husband did not know about. And I knew that God knew. And as I looked upon those things, I felt hopelessly and utterly lost.
Shortly afterwards, I began to tell Daniel some of those things. While he’s never given me any reason to think this, I wondered if he would even love me anymore. I wondered what he would think. I was so scared.
And so I “tested” the water. I told him a little. And then more. And then the tears flowed and through sobs, I told him all that was in my heart. And he cried and held me and loved me. And I told him all my doubts and fears and the struggle that I had had for so long.
And he told me words I will never forget. I may not remember every word, but I remember most.
Jaynee, the Lord loves you so much. He loves you just like this. Your dirty, broken, sinful heart…He still loves you. You don’t have to be anything or do anything to make Him love you more. You can’t. He died for you just like you are. He stretched out His arms on that cross and they are there open waiting for you to come to Him.
Nobody had ever loved me like that.
I fell down on my knees that day and told Jesus everything. I pictured his arms open wide on that cross and I told Him I wanted to run into them. By His great love and mercy, I wanted my sinful heart to be cleansed by His precious blood.
And by faith, through His amazing mercy and grace, He saved me! I felt so much love; I felt so clean and forgiven! So much joy! And then as I knelt down crying with a heart full of thanksgiving, my doubts and fears were gone…completely gone! And I pictured Jesus in His glory with His arms stretched out to welcome me to His heavenly home someday. Someday, I will run into the arms of my Savior!
I will never forget that day…Monday, June 21, 2010. Three days before my 37th birthday. He gave me the testimony I have always wanted!
Ever since that day, I have had joy that I can’t even describe! While I have read and memorized so much Scripture in my life, it is as if I am reading it for the first time. Everything is so rich, so precious, so deep. So wonderful! Wonderful words of life!
Each time I sing, I either feel so joyful that I might burst, or I have to choke back the tears. I have sung these songs hundreds of times before…but they are now mine! They are now my songs for my Savior!
And my entire life, I have wanted to have a burden for the lost. I have wanted to love the unlovable. But as much as I tried, it was just that…my effort. A lost, unloving girl trying to do what only Christ can do. But now, it is as if I see everything anew…everyone with new eyes.
I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see!
If any man be in Christ, He is a new creature (II Corinthians 5:17).
Those very verses that convicted and condemned my soul, now bring me the most wonderful joy! I am a new creature in Jesus Christ!
This Sunday, 10-10-10, I shared my testimony with our church here and I, along with four others, was baptized in obedience to the One who saved me.
The Good Shepherd found His lost lamb. And the angels in heaven rejoice!
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. Luke 15:7