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In Jesus Is True Joy!

Journey Into Darkness

This post is part two of a planned three-part story of my Christian walk.  In the first chapter, A Sinner Finds Grace, I wrote about how I came to know the Lord and the miraculous healing that I received at the time.  In this chapter, I will be writing about how I slipped away from a life in the Spirit and into a life lived in the flesh.  In the final chapter, I will be writing about God’s seeking and finding His lost sheep, and how He brought me back into His fold. (eventually titled, “The Road Back“)

After I received the gift of eternal life in the Lord through God’s grace in 1980, I began a lifelong journey of discipleship, fellowship, and later, backsliding and a return to a sinful life.

For awhile though, I was an eager attendee of Sunday and Wednesday Church services, Sunday school, and Bible studies.  I bought a good Bible and started highlighting it and writing in the margins.  I was married to my first wife then.  I know now that the marriage was a mistake from the beginning, and even my growing relationship with the Lord couldn’t save it.  We divorced in 1984.

This was a bad time for me, and I started smoking again.  I also started drinking again.  This just goes to show the depth of depravity of our sinful flesh.  Only four years after the Lord miraculously healed me of drug and alcohol addiction, I was throwing it away, leaning on alcohol and nicotine and not on my Savior.

All of that changed though in 1985 when I met Alice.  I knew from the beginning that Alice was the love of my life, my soul-mate.  Time has proven me right because we are still married today, and more deeply in love now than ever.  Over the years though I have come to think of Alice as a gift from the Lord and not a soul-mate.  She is still the love of my life though, and always will be.

Alice never smoked or drank, had never even tried either alcohol or tobacco.  I knew that if I wanted to win Alice’s affection I would need to clean up my act some, and quit both drinking and smoking at the same time, cold turkey.  To be honest, I was so in love I never even noticed.

After a 5 1/2 week whirlwind romance we married.  Crazy?  You bet!  But still, after asking Jesus to be my Lord, marrying Alice is the best thing that ever happened to me.

Shortly after we married we started attending Church.  It seemed that I was back on track again and what happened to me after my divorce was just a minor derailment.  We tried several Churches and after a while, settled on one we both liked.  It was an Assemblies of God Church.  This was a different experience for us as neither had attended a charismatic Church before.  But we did find it intriguing, and we soon thought of Bethel as our Church home.

We both grew in our charismatic Church home, and God was blessing us as we grew.

Getting married after only a 5 1/2 week courtship does have its drawbacks though.  Since we really didn’t know each other when we got married, there were a number of surprises for both of us, and more than a little stress.  So, within the first year of our marriage, I found myself both smoking and drinking, again.  We still went to Church, and God still blessed us, but things could have been so much better.  But reliance on substances was a personal trait of mine, as well as a family one, so it was pretty deeply ingrained in me.

It seemed that people considered our Church pastor a prophet, so when he shared the Church’s building plans and then prophesied that there would be an economic downturn in the early ’90’s, it only made sense that Church members should give over and above their normal offerings so the Church “upgrades” could be finished before the recession hit.  The Church finished the upgrades, but the recession never materialized.  In fact, a booming economy marked the 90’s, quite the opposite of our pastor’s “prophesy”.  A new position in Illinois awaited our pastor, and we got a new pastor for our Church.  Our new pastor did not carry the stain of having a prophesy turn out to be wrong, but our memory did not depart from us when our old pastor did.

We both turned bitter toward the Church.  It seemed pretty clear to us that our former pastor was no prophet, and his motivation had been money all along.  His actions did not shake our faith, but they did shake our trust in the organized Church.  Consequently, we decided to leave the Church.  And rather than find another Church home, we decided we would go it alone.  Our experience left us not trusting any Church, so we decided that we were better off worshiping, learning, and growing on our own way, separate from the unknown motives of a new Church.

Going it alone is most likely a mistake in every case.  Not only did we stop going to Church, but we also missed out of Christian fellowship.  Worse still, we eventually stopped reading our Bibles.  Though we were saved, we were living our lives in the flesh, quite apart from God.

But God proved his faithfulness to us, even though we failed miserably in our faithfulness to Him.  During this time I was able to quit drinking and smoking with God’s help, and God continued to strengthen our marriage.

We continued a long time like this, living in the flesh, but continuing to reap the blessings of our Lord.  During this time I was gainfully employed so we wanted for nothing.  And as I said, God continued to strengthen our marriage.  Looking back, I can identify certain events that I now feel sure were God trying to get our attention, but we weren’t listening.

But then, in May of 2009, He finally got our attention when I lost my job right in the middle of a seriously bad recession.  After accepting the Lord as my Savior and marrying Alice, I now consider this as probably the third most important event in my life.  It has certainly been the source of His greatest blessing.

Please stay tuned for my last post on this topic, which I will tentatively call, “The Road Back To God’s Grace”.

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December 19, 2011 - Posted by | God's Grace, Salvation | , , , ,

9 Comments »

  1. […] read chapters 2 and 3 of my testimony, “Journey Into Darkness“, and, “The Road […]

    Pingback by A Sinner Finds Grace « Worship The Lord Jesus | May 12, 2012 | Reply

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  3. […] read chapters 2 and 3 of my testimony, “Journey Into Darkness“, and, “The Road Back“. Share this:TwitterFacebookDiggLike this:LikeOne blogger […]

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  4. […] to know the Lord and the miraculous healing that I received at the time. In the second  chapter, Journey Into Darkness, I wrote about how I slipped away from a life in the Spirit and into a life lived in the flesh. In […]

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  6. Hi There,

    What an amazing story, it is very inspirational, I can relate to the bit about you going to many churches untill you felt you had found the right one, I had actually written a post a few days ago about the churches I attend, you see I have 2 churches where I have felt that are my home and have been so blessed in both of them.

    I cant wait to read the next one.

    God bless you both.

    Comment by Bernadette | December 20, 2011 | Reply

    • Thank you Bernadette, I’m glad you found it inspirational.

      To be honest, I wasn’t sure how it would be received or perceived. After all, apart from a slight glimmer of hope in the last paragraph, the story is mostly about my move away from Christ. I suppose the only positive (and it’s a big one) in all that negative is God’s absolute faithfulness through the entire episode.

      We do serve a great God, don’t we?

      Comment by johnconstitution | December 20, 2011 | Reply

  7. What an awesome post John!! I’m so looking forward to read the next one!! May God bless you and your wife in abundance!!

    Comment by Elzanne van Coller | December 19, 2011 | Reply

    • Thank you Elzanne, I I hope you found it a blessing.

      I have felt the Lord’s urging for a while to put down in words the story of my journey in Jesus. I loved writing the first chapter, my salvation testimony. This chapter was hard to write as it dealt with difficult times. It was good though as it brought me face to face with how badly I run my life in the flesh. I realize more each day how much I need Him!

      I look forward to writing the final chapter because, in its way, my journey back has been just as miraculous as my salvation was. And it is a story of victory rather than defeat.

      Comment by johnconstitution | December 20, 2011 | Reply


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