I was asked by our Minister Nik if i would share my Testimony in yesterdays parade service. The theme was ‘Faith through Adversity’, Nik said “i can ask you some straight forward questions, it will only take about 5 minutes(or so we thought)” “Yeah, ok, if you think it will help?”.
Sunday 8th May 2016…
Walking into the church building Sunday morning, it was quite full, as it was parade service, the scouts and other uniformed groups were there, but Nik found us seats at the front, then showed me up the steps and where i’d stand to speak, after testing the microphone i remembered the steps and sat back down.
As i’m blind, i can’t use any notes, so i spent a little time trying to etch some answer headings into my mind, hoping i’d not veer too far off track. I then prayed that i’d use this time to Glorify Him, as i talked about the Truth that sets us free, and how i’m not ashamed of the Gospel, it’s the power of God unto Salvation to all who believe…please make it real(be careful praying this).
Steve, we are looking at people who have showed faith in difficult circumstances and I have asked you to share some of your story with us.
Many people here, even those who have seen you around at various church events may not know that you are blind.
Nik stood next to me at the microphone and started with the first 2 questions:
Have you always been blind? How and when did you loose your sight?
I explained i’d been fully sighted until i was 24, and after 2 brain haemorrhages(March 2000) that burst my optic nerve, i’m now registered blind and have Severe Hypertensive Retinopathy.
“How did that change your life?”
I said “I can only scratch the surface this morning, but if ever you see me walking around here or in town, please ask me anything. But now i’ll try and sketch you a quick picture and give you a flavour of what happened…”
“I went to the gym 6-7 days a week, played football most evenings and was quite violent, acting the tough guy. I wasn’t a Christian, i hadn’t been born again, or even been inside a church building…so… as i stepped out of the eye consultants office after being told i’d be blind for the rest of my life, i collapsed on the floor crying out….and this was the easy bit”.
“Following this was pure isolation… all my football mates left me, i lost my job, my car…everything, i was completely broken, and on top of that i was left to my acusing thoughts “Nobody wants you, you’re useless now, unwanted, rejected, unloved and unlovable!!”
It was about this time where my mouth was silenced, an image of Jesus in Glory(Revelation 1) filled my mind, it was so clear(not blurred by my blindness) I could see His flaming eyes of judgment…then…the image changed, it was Jesus on the cross, now His eyes were filled with Mercy, Compassion & Grace, and while looking down straight at me he said “I did this for you, so that you can live. I…LOVE…YOU!!!
I started sobbing uncontrollably…i’d never sobbed like this in my entire life, and it took a couple of minutes for me to try and start talking again….but more sobbing…i was completely undone.
I knew He’d given His life so i could live. He’d come down so far to save me it is immeasurable. His blood washed me clean, white as snow. He’s forgiven me all my sins, past, present and future, and there is no more condemnation for me(or you), it is finished!
I’d been praying for so long for God to “Break my heart for what broke His” and sang the songs many times, but never had i caught a glimpse of the true cost of His Love, and His free gift of Grace to those who Repent and Believe in Him. I knew He wanted me to share the True Gospel to people listening(and now reading), as it alone is the only Hope. It is the Power of God unto Salvation for anyone that believes.
Still sobbing, i continued…
My every word was a different pitch but i said “My pit was so dark, my accusing thoughts were too heavy, and this led to a daily cycle of waking up and trying to kill myself…failing, which made me feel worse…then drinking so much i could drown them out for the rest of the day, until i woke the next day, then it started again.
I didn’t have the strength to kill myself, and i didn’t have the strength to live…i was without God, and without Hope!
Nik, who’s hand was rested on my shoulder asked question 4 “I know you were deeply unhappy at the time, what changed that?”
The world followed it’s pattern and sent me to Counselling, then Psychotherapy & finally Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, they didn’t work, they all had no answer for me, they couldn’t reach far enough down to pull me out. I needed a Saviour, I needed the light of the Gospel!
The Good News & Lovely Sarah…
Meeting Sarah changed my life! I have no idea how she’s put up with me. She’s been so patient and long suffering as i tried attacking her Faith and this Jesus! But she kept on loving me. Sarah always seemed to have a rock she was standing on no matter how bad things got for her, she always had this Blessed Hope that i didn’t,
Jesus worked through Sarah to shine the light of the Gospel, the Good News i was dying for.
Words failed me as i was trying to describe how much i love Sarah, so when my mind filled with thoughts of how far we’ve grown together in love…i broke down again.
I then wanted to talk a little of what John Wesley describes as “Prevenient grace”, but the sobbing was still making me pause every few words, but mentioned Jesus doesn’t want to see anyone perish, but he pursues you, He loves you and wants to save you, and no matter how bad or hopeless you think you are, He’ll keep coming with His free gift of Salvation!
Nik asked Question 5 “some people would say that your life must be worse now, would you agree with them?”
I’d gone way over my time slot, and i was almost pulled away from the mic as i was so overwhelmed…BUT i knew these tears were not about me, or my losses. I had 1 focus and that was to share the Truth that sets us free. I had no feeling of sorrow or pain. I knew it must have seemed like this to the congregation, and i thought they’d stick me in a counselling room when i’d finished!
The Holy Spirit was filling me like never before, and made the Power of the Gospel so real to me i almost exploded.
I continued “I wouldn’t agree with anyone who thinks(or measures) life by how good our circumstances are. I’d lead them to 2 Corinthians 4 & 5 where it talks about living by Faith, not by Sight, and now that we are born again in the Spirit, we should walk by the Spirit. Not living for things that are seen which are temporary(like my sight loss), but living for the unseen which is Eternal”
“I used to hate this song, but now i’d play it every service if i could…have you heard Amazing Grace, the Chris Tomlin version? If you pass me in the street you’ll normally hear me singing or humming these words:”
“Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see. My chains are gone I’ve been set free. My God, my Saviour has ransomed me. And like a flood His mercy reigns. Unending love, amazing grace”.
Nik then walked me back to my seat next to Sarah. The church was completely silent, it had been silent since i first started sobbing. I could feel Sarah was upset as she didn’t react for a while, then she said “People kept on running up and passing me tissues”. Nik sat down next to Sarah, and Sarah said “You’re not borrowing him again to speak”.
After the service people came over and said they really connected with the things i said, although i think everyone thinks i’m back in dark depression again.
He showed me the reality and Power of transformation in His Gospel, and how vital it is to share it, as Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and no-one gets to the Father but by Him. He’s the forgiver of Sins, breaker of chains, and the only Salvation for Eternal Life in Heaven.
John 3:14-21 New King James Version (NKJV)
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but[a] have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
I felt i needed to share this post to try and explain a little more of what was happening to me, and maybe reach out to someone who is struggling with the creeping death called Depression,or who is just simply lost and without Hope.
Captivity of Negativity