By : MARTIN E. WILLOUGHBY, JR.
I believe that we all have a story. While I am probably more of an introvert than an extrovert, I love meeting new people and learning about their life journey. In particular, I enjoy hearing stories about how Christ has worked in the life of believers to transform their lives. While I enjoy studying apologetics and the intellectual defense of Christianity, there is nothing more powerful to me than to hear about God at work in the lives of His children. There is no pill or self-help talk that can accomplish what God can do in an instant!
When people share their testimony, you often hear how God rescued them from the pain or struggles that they were not able to fix for themselves. That is who God is. He is in the fixer- upper business. He is a turnaround and recovery expert. I reflect on these truths as I think about the Cross and Resurrection in this Easter season.
My story is one of being resistant to God’s love. I was well into my 20s before I accepted the free gift of God’s mercy and grace. I accept full responsibility for my long journey to faith. My parents did an excellent job of raising me in the church and modeling a life of faith. My younger sister was a Godly influence on me. In college, I had a roommate who is one of the strongest men of faith I know. In spite of all of these positive influences, I shut God out. I wanted to be in control of my own life. My heart was hardened with a lack of faith and love. As a result, I was not leaving a wake of grace and peace in my life. Instead, it was one of pain and frustration.
During this period, I was in search of God. I read the Bible. I studied the life of Jesus. Unfortunately, I was a skeptic. I wanted proof. What about other world religions? Aren’t there a lot of Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus in the world? What about pain and suffering? Would a good god allow that? Didn’t men write the Bible? Did it just fall out of the sky? Why did God take my father from me at such a young age? These and many other questions led me down a long path of seeking to know the Truth.
God in his infinite patience allowed me to struggle with these questions. With a loving embrace though, He reached out to me in special ways and allowed me to finally bridge the enormous gap between my head and my heart to surrender to his love. Ultimately, Love Wins. For me, Easter is about hope and renewal. It is about recognizing the difference between a life with and without Him. It is about transformation. While a life in Christ does not remove pain and suffering, it provides meaning and a higher purpose. I know that I am here on this planet for a brief moment in time for a reason. I know that God doesn’t make any junk and that I can either be a steward of the life God has given me, or I can squander it. I know that Easter is about redemption and new beginnings.
I believe each of you has a story. I hope your story is one where you have embraced God’s love and surrendered to his goodness. If you are a believer, then perhaps this will be a season to reflect on how God has changed your life story. If you are not, then perhaps now is the time to allow yourself to receive his grace and experience the life changing power of His presence! Happy Easter!