I am reading a biography about John Wesley and how He eventually was brought to saving trust in Christ. I ti s interesting-the book has some parts of the letters and things that he had written, regarding his spiritual struggles and doubts prior to coming to know Jesus Christ as His Savior.....and since it has been less than three months since God changed my life by Hid grace, I sit here and read thinking, "yeah, I used to think that way."
And I am not sure if I can totally quote things, since it is from an official book, but one big thing that John Wesley seriously struggled with before he came to know Christ was a fear of death. He noticed that it was something that his father did not struggle with--as well as many others around him. They had an assurance that he himself did not have.
I so totally remember thinking that way myself--and being frustrated to death that others around me had that assurance whereas I did not--BUT WAS extremely scared to ever say so, because of what pride and fear of what others would think of me.
But NOW because I trust in Christ alone for my salvation and I know that I am His forever, the thought of death no longer holds power--because Jesus conquered death and the grave by rising from the dead. I might not like thinking about the process of dying (no one likes to suffer), but the thought of dying itself does not scare me---I KNOW WITHOUT A SHADOW OF A DOUBT WHERE I AM GOING.
So back to John Wesley. He had gone to America to preach to the Indians, but he began to discover more of the reality of where He was or better said Wasn't" with God by that process.
John Wesley wrote: "It is almost two years and four months since I left my native country, in order to teach the Georgia Indians the nature of Christianity. But what have I learned in the meantime? Why, what I least of all expected, that I, who went to America to convert others, was never myself converted to God." (Heroes of the Faith: John Wesley---Founder of the Methodist Church, by Sam Wellman, published by Barbour books, page 96.)
Yes, John Wesley, I totally can relate! Just substitute "Mexico" and "Mexicans" in a few blanks, and you've got my story. I totally had those same thoughts!!! Isn't it interesting how God works? Sometimes it still boggles my mind that I am writing all of this, but YET I KNOW IT IS REAL!!!!!!
And He would read passages like these. Galatians 2:20-21 "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" Or he would read 2 Peter 1:4 "....He has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you might participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires." And he would think, "If only that were to come true of me." (Heroes of the Faith: John Wesley---Founder of the Methodist Church, by Sam Wellman, published by Barbour books, page 103.)
I CAN TOTALLY RELATE!!!!!!
For years and years, I did the same thing with Bible passages. (hated Ephesians for that reason of "wanting it to be true of me.") Reading the Bible was a frustration because I wanted it to apply to me, but didn't have any assurance that I bel9onged to Christ and therefore the "good stuff" that we all cling to as believers nearly drove me crazy. Things like the wrath of God totally applied, but nothing else seemed to. AND I GUESS THE REASON FOR THAT WAS OBVIOUS!!! I can't even express how devastating it all was to be in that turmoil.
And one more thing that the author mentions is that John Wesley sought faith so hard and yet was not given it.(Heroes of the Faith: John Wesley---Founder of the Methodist Church, by Sam Wellman, published by Barbour books, page 103.) And He did do just that apparently.
Again, I would do the same thing. I wanted to know what it was to trust in Christ SO BAD that I was trying to earn it and conjure up trust in Him by my own efforts rather than to simply trust Him. I would listen to "Unshackled stories" from Pacific Garden Mission, totally jealous and very frustrated, thinking, "Where is MY moment? How come it is so easy for them? ("them" was whoever's testimony I had just listened to.) Again turmoil is the only word that even comes close to describing the real feelings and reasoning behind it all.
THAT IS WHY THE JOY OF NOW KNOWING I AM HIS (Jesus Christ's child) IS SO WONDERFUL AND I CAN'T STOP TALKING ABOUT IT.... The desperation that I felt and was TRULY STUCK in was deeper than words could ever express!!! AND BEING FREED FROM YEARS OF FRUSTRATION AND TURMOIL IS A BIG BIG DEAL!!!!!! I struggled much longer than anyone realizes. (Again that is partly due to the fact that I was too proud and scared to be honest and say my fears of where I was really at.)
And I can't tell you WITH WORDS WHAT IT IS LIKE TO READ passages like Ephesians 1, or Galatians 2:20-21, or 2 Peter 1, or 1 John (the whole Book is AMAZING), to name buta few, and to TRULY KNOW WITHOUT ANY DOUBTS that they at last do apply to me!!!!!
BUT IT IS OVER IN THE SENSE OF MY "ASSURANCE OF SALVATION" struggle being over. I still have struggles, but they are very different kinds of struggles--and yes, my life with Jesus Christ is wonderful, but it isn't perfect, and nor am I perfect.
So, Lord, thank you for John Wesley and others out there that I haven't heard of yet, that have similarities in the way they thought before knowing you, and that they were honest to admit it.
It is so neat how God works!!!!!! We really have an AWESOME GOD!!! All of the glory IS His!!