Thursday, June 2, 2016

When I Met Grace

NOTE: The following article is a testimony of Camille Faith R. Enriquez, a PhD student at Doshisha University in Kyotanabe City, Japan. - Pastor Joseph


When I Met Grace

By Camille Faith R. Enriquez

It was winter’s night. I was trudging back home when the trees surrounding me started to sway and rustle as the wind blew hardly on them. I lifted my eyes upon the skies while bending beneath the strong wind, and at that moment... I heard a whisper. It was when I first encountered grace – God’s grace.

I grew up attending Sunday schools. I had my elementary studies in a Christian institute. Both of my parents are Christians. At young age, I was exposed to the do’s and don’ts of being a Christian.

It was a good discipline for me. Little did I know, my discipline caused me to drift away from the true gospel I once heard and believed. I continued walking in my own strength, trying to be right in the eyes of God. It was in college that the Lord had shown me my real frailties. Wicked thoughts I dared to conceive out of assurance that I could cast them out of my mind anytime because I knew they were wrong – became uncontrollable. My mind turned into a battleground. Every second, I would wrestle with my self, trying to block the recurring thoughts in my mind. There are times that I would be successful, but in the end of the day, my strength had been wasted away. I was so exhausted both mentally and emotionally.

I was too ashamed to share anyone what was happening to me. I learned that once the enemy tells you you have problem, the next thing he makes you believe is that you’re the only one with that problem. So, I kept it between me and the Lord. I would cry out to Him and ask why He had let these things happen to me. I was no longer living a normal life. It became difficult for me to think straightly, to concentrate, and to remembering things. I started to stammer and develop short attention span. Night and day, I would plead for a peaceful mind, for control, for sanity... it was when I learned to depend on God completely and unceasingly.

After several years, when I thought I had fully overcome my struggle, an event that deeply changed the way I see God came to pass. From fighting the thoughts, my heart chose to succumb to them. I let down my guard and committed wicked things in the eyes of God. I felt unworthy of forgiveness, of second chance... of life.

It was during that cold winter night, when I finally saw Him far greater than my sins and failures. My heart cried aloud when the wind assured me of His presence... of His unconditional love. That moment He whispered to my soul: “Let’s go home My child.” Tears started to fall from my eyes and from that time I surrendered myself wholly into His grace.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

I learned that my greatest challenge was not my discipline or my devotion. It was BELIEVING the gospel – that I have been saved by grace through Jesus Christ – and Him alone.

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”

Truly, Jesus is my righteousness, my holiness and my redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30)

By His grace and power, I am no longer who I used to be. His peace garrisons my heart and my mind. Yet, I am still far from perfect. Occasionally, I could experience anxieties, feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy. I can't help but ask the Lord every time when will be the day He will take all these away from me. It is in those moments that God had to remind me that His grace is sufficient for me. He is teaching me to depend on Him and on His grace in all situations that I may not boast before Him.

Paul wrote in his letter:

"...Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."

So whether it's depression or disease, whether it's criticism or cancer, whether it's persecution or pain, it is working in us for our ultimate good. For when we are weak and empty, we are dependent on God - revealing His glory in our lives. Ravi Zacharias once said that we are called “not to overcome trials in spite of it, but to overcome THROUGH it.”

I know that I need to remind my self of these truths day by day, perhaps for the rest of my life. Yet, I will not lose heart. I am holding fast to the hope that someday God Himself will wipe every tear in my eyes, the day that His Spirit will completely take over my flesh - and there will be no more mourning nor crying nor pain (Revelations 21:4).

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

Since that one winter’s night, every single day of my life began to be a fresh encounter of grace - God's unending grace.