Testimony Of A Backslider
GLIMMER OF HOPE
I’ll never forget the first time the Pastor showed up at our front door. I had no idea what my parents were thinking. I really did not want to go. They must have known something that I didn’t know. For several years my parents would send me and my brothers on a church bus every Sunday and Wednesday. I had no idea then that this would be one of the best things that they would ever do for me. During this time I remember attending a church camp with my church. Every year my church would send the youth group to this retreat. It was at this time that I accepted Christ as my Savior. I was 11 years old. To this day I still remember how it happened and the feeling that I had when I asked Christ to come into my life. I was sitting in the pews and they had an alter call. I’m not sure why but I stepped into the isle and walked up to the front. I guess the Holy Spirit was tugging at my heart. The next thing I knew, I was saying the sinners prayer. I had a feeling of peace like I never had before. I became very emotional, almost to the point of crying. It was like having Gods arms wrapped tightly around me. I felt like I was floating on top of a cloud. So now I was living in the light of God’s presence; the light that would guide my every step on the path of righteousness. Several months later I was baptized at my church. By doing this I was showing my obedience to Christ. I felt at the time it was the right thing to do. To this day I still have the baptism certificate. The funny thing about it is that my parents didn’t know anything about it. They would find out some time a little later. I’m sure they were quite surprised. I’m also sure they were very happy. Despite all this, my desire to follow Christ was short lived. Not long after being baptized, I got away from the church. I soon found excuses why I shouldn’t have to go. I got out of going one week and one week turned into every other week. Before I knew it the bus quit coming. It was a relief to me when I knew the bus would no longer show up. There was a battle going on inside of me. It was a battle between good and evil. It was a battle between the light of God’s presence and the darkness of satan’s lies. The enemy was working on my mind. He did not want me to worship. I no longer had a prayer life. As I struggled with my inner self, I became blind to the word of God. Blind to the truth that keeps us from falling prey to the enemy’s lies. I begin to drift away from God’s truths. A path that was once bright was starting to fade into darkness. The enemy had me right where he wanted me. I was wandering into spiritual darkness and had no idea what I was getting into. The darkness was making me blind so I could not see the truth. I managed to make it thru school without getting into to much trouble. I basically kept to myself and coasted thru High School as though I had no cares in the world. I continued on blindly not knowing what consequences I would suffer. After completing High School I had no sense of direction. I felt like there was something missing in my life. I was lonely and I had an empty feeling inside. I felt as though no one cares what I do. No one even gives me a passing thought. A path that was once bright was now very dim, fading into darkness.
It was eight years later when things started to drastically change in my life. My deep sense of loneliness had made me vulnerable to the enemy’s lies. The enemy was working on my mind. I was becoming curious about the world and what it had to offer. The attractions of the world were crowding out God’s message from my heart. We cannot serve two masters. The Lord gives us freedom of choice. We can choose to serve Him and have the best that He has to offer. The enemy gives us temptations. The enemy seeks to destroy us. One bad choice can lead to years of heart-ache and ruins. I chose to take the low road. I chose the path that leads to destruction. I started running around with people who were caught up in the world. I felt as though I had been accepted. I felt like I was part of a crowd. People who I thought were my friends were not really my friends. These people were lost to the world, without God, without hope. Alcohol soon became a big part of my life. I had fallen prey to the enemy’s lies. What started out to be fun would soon turn into disaster. It’s like being caught up in a whirlwind not knowing what tragedy would come next. Fifteen years of my life would be filled with confusion and adversity. Almost every weekend I would put my life in danger. It was like playing a game of Russian roulette. It would start out with an innocent drink and before I knew it everything was totally out of control. What started out to be fun was now turning into a big problem. Alcohol was now controlling my life. The enemy would use this to his advantage. My weakness made it more difficult to resist the temptations. After a few drinks my judgment would become impaired. After a while I started to believe that nothing could happen to me. Sometimes I would get into my car and drive around from one party to the next party; not even taking into consideration the welfare and lives of innocent people. One bad accident could have put me in prison for many years. It could have even cost me my life. When you’re out into the world there’s no telling what can happen. Sometimes there was fighting. Many times I was hurt and even suffered broken bones. Other times I feared that the police would come looking for me because I had hurt somebody. Many times I would wake up the next morning wondering what I got myself into. There was fear because I was not sure what happened. At times I didn’t even know how I got home. Sometimes I dealt with it and other times I drank to forget about it. Sooner or later I still had to deal with it. And so I continued to walk in darkness with only a ray of light. The enemy rejoiced in my failures. Death was always just around the corner. At times I carried on carelessly stumbling thru life, not even aware of how close death really was. Other times death was so close that I could taste it. Sometimes I think about a time that I escaped death. One night I was out with a friend. We were arguing and he got out of the car and started walking. I followed him in anger. As we were walking across a parking lot a man jumped out of a car. He had a double barrel shotgun pointed in my direction. He said if you know what’s good for you; you will turn around and walk in the other direction. I turned and started walking and my walk soon turned into a run. Thank God nothing happened. I could have easily been gone from this world. What would have become of me had I not survived. God only knows how many times I escaped death. It’s only by the grace of God that I’m still alive. I managed to escape death but I didn’t escape everything. When you are living this life style you will suffer severe consequences. A couple of times I spent the night in a holding cell, which is a small room used to detain drunks. This one had concrete benches around the outside of the room. There were about a dozen men passed out on the benches and several other men who were sober enough to watch there backs. I would be caught twice for driving under the influence of alcohol. This caused me much financial difficulty not to mention the embarrassment and inconvenience with all of the running around that I had to do. The second time I was sentenced to twenty days in jail. There was a fear of being locked up in county jail. Fear of not knowing what to expect. Fear of the unknown. This life style is very depressing. Waking up with depression was a common thing. Sometimes it would last for days. Other times it would last for weeks. My disobedience led to disaster. My ways had brought all this upon me. At this point in my life there was only a glimmer of hope. I did not know if a glimmer of hope would have been enough to save me from the world. It was only a matter of time before my hope became total darkness. The Lord was angry with me because my heart was looking somewhere else instead of to Him. I failed to stay on the path that He wanted me to follow; the path that leads to righteousness; the path that leads to hope, and peace, and joy.
One day, out of the blue, the Lord softened my heart. I had a feeling of conviction that was so overwhelming. I once turned away from God, but now I was sorry for it. I was totally ashamed for the way I had lived my life. I was no longer blinded and confused. All I could think about was how much I hated living my life for the world; without hope, without peace. God wanted me to return to Him. I asked God to forgive me of my sins. So, He rescued me out of the darkness and gloom of satan’s kingdom and brought me into the Kingdom of his Son. A glimmer of hope was restored. A glimmer of hope became a desire to seek Christ again. Fifteen years in the world; without hope; was enough for me. It was the Lord who brought me thru the world with all its dangers and suffering. But, following Christ again would not be easy. I was set in my ways after being in the world for such a long time. I would have to gain control of alcohol which was now controlling my life. I would also have to make choices that would cause me pain and suffering. I had to separate myself from people who were caught up in the world. I would end relationships that I had for many years. Some of them were easy to end but others were much more difficult. I had fear of the unknown. I was not sure how I would be able to do this. The enemy would use this to his advantage. He wanted me to stay in my old life; a life in darkness and gloom with no hope. But there was no turning back. I had to put Christ first. It was the only way possible. I would be forced into a brutal custody battle. Despite all my efforts to get custody, I was forced to leave my son behind. This was one of the hardest things that I ever had to do. I trusted God that my son would follow. Still this caused me much heartache and loneliness. Many times I would shed tears as I sat alone in my room. I had an empty feeling inside. I felt as though I had been abandoned, even though it was by a choice that I had made. I wasn’t sure if I could do this, but I continued to trust God. I started attending church on a regular basis. Prayer became a part of my life. I started to read the word of God. I started to draw closer to Christ. A path that was once very dim started to shine again. But things did not change over night. There would be so many obstacles to overcome. I was very lonely at times and I had bad habits that I got from being in the world. The enemy was shrewd. The enemy would use my weakness to try to bring me back to the world. I relied on my faith to stop the enemy’s relentless attacks. I continued to put my trust in Christ. I continued to worship and pray for God to help me. I asked the Lord to help me to overcome. Despite my efforts to follow Christ I would fall many times. My weakness made it easier for the tempter to over power me. Many times I would step back into the world. This only caused me more suffering. What I thought would cure my loneliness only made it much worse. Living with one foot in the world and one foot out is very dangerous. The world is a brutal place to be. All you have to do is be at the wrong place at the wrong time and you could end up suffering severe consequences. As time went on I became closer to God. As the darkness disappeared the light shined in. But for some reason I continued to make bad choices. I did not know where I was going wrong. Perhaps it was because I still had one foot in the world. I had been attending a small Baptist church for several years. I met someone at church and we started dating. I was thinking that everything was going pretty well. All of the sudden we were married. I really don’t know how it happened so fast. Before long my life was out of control. I was living a life filled with turmoil. I couldn’t trust her any more. I tried my hardest to keep it under control but I just couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I couldn’t live with one foot in the world anymore. I asked the Lord to help me. It turned out that she was still married to someone else. The Lord gave me a way of escape. I never thought I’d be so happy. The Lord showed his mercy to me. I did not want to live this way anymore. It doesn’t work when you have one foot in the world.
Nine years with one foot in the world was enough for me. I surrendered my life to the Lord. A path that was once very dim shined bright again. Now I would give it all to the Lord. Now I was living in Gods will for my life. I would have so many changes in my life. At times it all seemed so overwhelming. I felt like I had to look for a new church home. The Lord started to guide me in ways that I never dreamed possible. In no time I found a new church home. Within two months I was involved with a prison ministry. The enemy tried to put doubt in me but I new this was where the Lord wanted me to be. I soon found that I could relate to these people. Perhaps it’s because I was once lost to the world. I soon became involved in the usher ministry and have never looked back. You might wonder how a person knows when they are living in Gods will. I am so blessed to have the Lord show me in so many ways. I had been in the prison ministry for about a year, when I had a dream about someone who I partied with many years ago. The next day I found out that he was in prison in another state. I thought about it and I came to the conclusion that I should be praying for him. To my amazement he was transferred two months later to a facility that we ministered to. I didn’t recognize him but he approached me. I told him that I had a dream about him and that I had been praying for him. He had a look of shock and bewilderment. I knew then that this was where the Lord wanted me to be. I continued to ask God for guidance, and strength to overcome my fears. With each new day I became more confident. I faithfully served at my church home for three years; but circumstances with my family and my church home had me thinking about looking for a new church home. I continued to rely on God’s direction. I soon found a new church home where I continued to serve faithfully in the prison and usher ministry. Sometimes, in Gods power, I have the courage to do things that I would not normally do. Many years ago the Lord told me that I would be writing something. For many years I had no idea what that would be. But now it is clear to me as I am finishing this testimony. It’s been four and one half years since I gave my life to the Lord. He blesses me in so many ways. I have seen many miracles and experienced much answered prayer. The Lord is merciful to me. I awoke early one morning. As I awoke these words were coming out of my mouth—undeserved grace—undeserved grace—undeserved grace. He blesses me with grace which I do not deserve. He is no longer angry with me. He does not punish me as I deserve. He has removed all of my sins thru Christ. When you are living in God’s will, you still have to deal with being in the world. Persecution now becomes a part of life along with every other type of suffering you can think of. I continue to trust God to help me with all of my suffering. He takes care of my every need. I once suffered for the world, but now I suffer for Christ. A glimmer of hope saved me from the world. To be continued… ~Steve E. Lovato Sr.~
If you would like to rededicate your life to Christ or would like to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, it starts with a simple prayer. It goes like this… Dear Jesus, I repent from my old ways. Please be the Lord of my life. I ask that you come into my heart and help me live through you. Thank you for dying on the cross to save me! I believe God raised you from the dead and I thank you for the hope of heaven and my salvation. Amen…