(My personal testimony presented to my Keryx Brothers shortly before I was paroled by the MDOC in 2016.)
My name is Tim and I attended Keryx 10 here at STF and I sat at the table of Timothy.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved.”John 3:16-17
God reached out to me, to each one of us, in an act of sacrifice beyond our comprehension, to save us from ourselves and our self-destructive acts of sin. A free gift with no strings attached, but He knew that if we accepted it our lives would never be the same.
I gave my life to Christ when I was a teenager at an alter call at the end of a Christian music concert. Once I became a Christian God promised that “He would never leave me nor forsake me” (Deuteronomy 31:6), that He would be my Shepard if I would be His sheep (John 10). But I was young and immature, and I failed to develop and grow in my faith, so in the course of time I wandered away as sheep are prone to do (Isaiah 53:6).
Through a series of bad life choices I found myself in a dark place, cut off from everything and everyone I knew. But God was faithful and found me in my cell at the county jail. He reminded me how much He loved me and I renewed my vow and earnestly repented. For the first time in years tears flowed as I poured my heart out to God, surrendering every area of my life, confessing every sinful habit and committing for faithfully serve Him.
One of the first Bible verses God gave me to memorize was Psalms 51:10-12, and for the last 8 years I have meditated daily on this prayer of King David:
“Create in my a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast (right) spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me by your generous Spirit.”Psalms 51:10-12
This passage clearly identified for me that after my act of confession and repentance it was God who must act to bring restoration and renewal to our relationship. It wasn’t something that I could do, because only God has the power to make things new (Revelations 21:5).
According to Webster to restore something is to put it back in its former position. And to renew means to make new again, to start over. Only God could restore that feeling I had first experienced at the alter call so many years ago. Now I have that experience of Joy in my heart every day. God has given me a fresh start, a clean slate, a new spirit within me. He is growing my faith and continues to reveal Himself to me in His Word and miraculous works on my behalf.
I have been transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2). And as a result God has given me new strength (Isaiah 42:31), a new attitude (Ephesians 4:23), and a new sense of purpose (Jeremiah 29:10).
Not only has He worked in me, but He has worked through me to share God’s love with others, to serve the church, and to encourage and disciple my younger Brothers in the faith. God has also been restoring my relationship with my family, and this prodigal son will be going home Tuesday. I can’t have back the life I had before and don’t want it if I could. Instead I am looking forward to my new life in Christ, and the plans He has for me.
In closing, my prayer for you my Keryx Brothers is:
“Do not lose heart. Even though your outward man is perishing, your inward man is being renewed day by day: for the light affliction you are dealing with will last but for a moment and is working for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Do not look at the things which are seen, rather at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”2 Corinthians 4:16-18
(An original poem I wrote in prison based on the promises of Scripture and inspired by reading “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren in April 2016)
Until I realized I couldn't do it on my own,
God could do nothing for me.
Until I asked for direction,
God couldn't show me the way.
Until I confessed my ignorance,
God couldn't teach me.
Until I laid down my burden,
God couldn't carry it for me.
Until I searched for Him,
God couldn't reveal Himself to me.
Until I died to self,
God couldn't bring me to life.
Until I emptied myself,
God couldn't fill me.
Until I surrendered,
God couldn't give me victory.
Until I submitted to His authority,
God couldn't free me from my bondage to sin.
Until I hungered and thirsted for righteousness,
God couldn't satisfy my appetite.
Until I obeyed like a child,
God couldn't treat me like a son.
Until I admitted my weakness,
God couldn't strengthen me.
Until I walked by faith,
God couldn't prepare me to run the race.
Until I acknowledged my purpose,
God couldn't use me.