Short version of my testimony. Republished from December 2014. Suzanne Kempf, Editor.
In 2006, two years before I gave my life to follow Christ, I used to sing songs like AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” out loud in the car thinking, yeah, no stop signs, speed limits, no one is going to slow me down! I sang those lyrics because I wanted to do things MY way and be “free”! I was Ms. Independent and I was free! No one was going to tell me what to do!
Although I didn’t want to go to hell, I wanted to be my own boss, and why take hell seriously anyway? No one else seemed to. However, I didn’t realize at the time I wasn’t free. I was a slave. A slave to people’s opinions, a slave to Adderall, a slave to feelings of worthlessness, a slave to laziness, a slave to cigarettes, a slave to depression and anxiety, a slave to performance, a slave at the time to a new illness in my life called schizoaffective disorder, and the list went on and on. I wasn’t free at all. My addictions and warped thoughts ruled me! My delusions duped me! I wasn’t my own boss because the things I loved (or thought I needed) owned and harmed me, leading me down a dangerous path of lies to self-destruction, and down the road to Hell. My sense of freedom was only an illusion.
Most of the time, I allowed other people, along with my own distorted self-image, to define me. I either thought too highly of myself or too little of myself. The worst part was I felt like I could never please others or myself anyway, so my self-worth became nonexistent. At times I thought, be true to yourself, but I couldn’t do that either because I wasn’t good to myself. Besides, to me, being true to myself meant being happy.
I finally realized life was not all about my happiness–that the things I thought made me happy were destroying me and they didn’t make others around me happy. How can you be true to yourself when you aren’t good to yourself? How can you be truly good to others and love them in a healthy way if you don’t love and take care of yourself? I was empty, trying to fill up with anything to make myself feel whole and worthy.
Changing circumstances sometimes helped me temporarily, but nothing could ever fill me or make me feel complete. As soon as things changed, which was by the minute at times, I was running on empty again and looking for the nearest gas pump.
People had always told me to be strong, but I didn’t come out of such a deep pit through my own strength; I had no strength left. Right after I began reading the New Testament and truly seeking Jesus Christ, I hit my rock bottom. God pulled me out of that pit when I was saturated in sin, drug addiction, agony, and mental disorders. I knew that night, the moment the Lord asked me if I was ready to follow Him, I had a choice to make. I hesitated for a minute because I didn’t know what He had planned for me, and I wanted to follow my own plans.
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
For whosoever would save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.” Matthew 16:24-25 (ASV)
He then helped me realize what a horrible job I’d done, being my own “little god,” and that my life could not get much worse. I said yes to Him and meant it. I also asked Him to take over my whole life, and I knew at that moment that if He had asked me to go to Mars, I would go, willingly. I didn’t know how I’d get there, but I knew deep down in my heart that He’d get me there. That night I finally stepped down from my illusionary leadership position and “gave” God the job of being my boss–not just my Savior, but the Lord of my life.
I had a repentant heart that night and turned from my way and turned to His. I never realized before that He had wanted a repentant heart and a relationship with me. I never knew that is what He wants from all of us. After He snatched me straight out of that dark pit and filled me up with His Spirit. I woke up and was changed.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5: 17 (ESV)
After giving my life to follow Jesus Christ, I felt such love, joy, and peace flow into me. The truth that I am loved and worthy to Him replaced the lies in my head that I was worthless and stupid, leaving an all-new feeling of deep worth within me because of my reconciliation to Christ.
I felt vibrant and truly alive and energetic like I never had before. I no longer wanted the Adderall that I was prescribed. I felt so much comfort, safety, and protection around me and I still do, even at night. I now know what it feels like to be alive! Before, I felt like the walking dead, an empty shell thirsty for Him. I needed Him to quench my thirst, change the desires of my heart, break me free from the bondage of sin, and give me eternal life.
Because of Him, my life changed instantly while I was weak and when I recognized that I needed a Savior and Lord. So I am no longer Hell-bound, but He defines who I am as a person. I have a purpose now. He tells me to love Him and to truly love others, even my enemies, and He helps me to do it. I could never do it on my own. He has transformed me but I am not perfect and never will be on this earth. I still ask Him for help all day long. I cannot do anything without Him. I did nothing good to earn His grace. I just sought Him out by reading a few paragraphs of the Gospel and called out to Him in total agony and desperation.
He heard my call and answered my prayer in a way that I had not expected, in the best way ever! I got more than I ever asked for! I now follow Christ and am His slave and servant, and He even calls me His friend. He loves me and wants good things for me. He drops down slices of heaven and fills me up with such immense love and peace. He gives me new eyes and new vision. He IS my treasure. I am rich in Him.
Hell is not like the AC/DC song “Highway to Hell.” There is no partying in hell. The rock stars are has‐beens, and they never perform. There are no gorgeous women or men, and there are no drinking games. People are in constant pain. The Bible says “cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth” Matthew 13:42 (ASV).
Will you repent from self-lordship and trust and agree to follow Jesus Christ today? He’s more than worth it!