The God I never knew versus the God I now know
The God I knew, or thought I knew, was alright. He suited me.
I acknowledged His existence but didn’t find Him particularly fascinating. I was a hedonist; life was all about me: ‘Eat, drink and be merry…’ Mine was a lifestyle of temporary pleasures, whatever made me feel good, despite the detrimental effects.
Throughout this thrill ride of pleasure seeking, be it alcohol, sex, clubbing or illicit music, I was aware of God’s existence.
I just didn’t care.
After all, God was there for me. To serve me. To please me. Living to serve and please Him was the furthest thing from my mind.
Pretty soon a pattern evolved. I would ‘act up,’ then turn to God. All good.
The God I thought I knew was a forgiving God. So I would get drunk, black out, be young and make a scene. If I felt bad, I would cry out to God to make me feel better. If I felt no shame or guilt from my actions, there would be no need to acknowledge Him. It was that simple.
My relationship with God was like a shampoo bottle: ‘Lather, rinse, repeat.’ I would lather up my sin to a foaming mess, rinse it off with a quick prayer and repeat.
The result? Self-loathing, guilt, shame and disgrace. I recognised the downward spiral I was on and that I was headed for destruction. That day would come when I would start experimenting with hard-core drugs. That scared me.
I feared death. I feared the extreme consequences of alcohol abuse, but I did not fear God. My goal was to stop hating myself in order to love myself. I never considered God loving me or me loving God.
Life inevitably catches up with you. I could no longer outrun the consequences of what I’d done. They were part of me.
As I looked in the mirror, I felt as if the person staring back at me was not worth fighting for. I felt used, worthless, hopeless and unwanted. I felt dirty.
I felt ugly and I did not believe that even God could purify me and wash me clean. I felt hopeless.
The first glimmer of hope was when a friend introduced God to me in a way that I had never
imagined. He explained that God was the One who was the artist of this painting of my life and only He could see the finished product. All the messy strokes of my life were part of an artwork that was still incomplete and that God was sovereignly in control over, but that ultimately would be beautiful.
He explained the Gospel to me. The good news of redemption. The fact that my sins were so vile in the sight of a holy God that I was deserving of His judgement and death. The truth that God loved me, in my sinful state, that He would send His only Son, who was sinless, to die on a cross to take my sin and Gods’ wrath and judgement on Himself, so that I could be made whiter than snow and be completely forgiven.
I had never heard anything so beautiful.
That God could make me new and show me grace even though I was so undeserving. There was nothing I could do to save myself. Christ did it all.
Christ fought for me.Christ died for me.
So that I could live.
John Piper explains it like this: 'The depth of our love is shown not just in the measure of our sacrifice but in whether we will give it to people that who do not return it...the love that overwhelms us is the love that comes from those who have deeply wronged us.'
I agree with him but would change his words slightly to say that the ‘love that overwhelms us is the love that comes from those we have deeply wronged.’
I had been a slave to Satan. He was my father. A father of lies. I had not been living for myself. I had been living for him. And by living for Satan I had sinned against the holy God. My sin drove the nails into Christ’s hands at Calvary.
BUT God, being rich in mercy and love, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ. It is by grace you have been saved. [Ephesians 2:4-5]
‘Because the sinless Saviour died, my sinful soul is counted free,
for God the Just is satisfied, to look Him and pardon me.’
These lyrics to the song, ‘Before the throne of God Above’ are full of truth and comfort. My freedom in Christ was granted by my death in Christ and He has taken on all the sin of man that we may know what eternal life is. My salvation is a gift. [Ephesians 2:8-9]
The God I know now, is the One who gave me the greatest gift that I will never deserve nor will I ever live up to.
The God I know now surpasses all worldly things and retains all heavenly glory that not even Moses was able to be in just a fraction of his presence.
This almighty and fearsome God, who moved mountains, burnt defiled cities to the ground, took the life of David’s and Bathsheba’s baby son for David’s sin and flooded the earth in judgement in Noah’s day could have left me to end my life in misery and allowed me to choose to remain a child of Satan for eternity. Instead, He saved me. He loves me.
I no longer fear death for I have been saved from eternal death and judgement. ‘There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.’ [Romans 8:1]
I can accept that my sin has consequences which the Pastor of my church put quite simply, ‘Salvation can wipe away the condemnation of sin but not its consequences.’ I understand that I will live with that knowledge forever but the consequences are a small price to pay in order to sit with the Lord our God in heaven who is now my Father.
God my father redeems, restores and renews. He has made me whole. I am adopted into His family. I am worthy. I am a new creation.
It is all of grace. Immeasurable grace.
I now live to please Him, serve Him and glorify Him. There is no higher purpose.
Kaluba is from Zambia and studied Public Health at Monash University in South Africa.
She enjoys cooking especially since she loves food.
She grew up in Japan and has a love for reading, writing and drawing.
She is currently living in Lusaka and doing an internship and studying her Masters in International Relations.