Shortly after coming to know Christ, my now husband (then boyfriend) moved to the Bay Area. Which meant the one Christian I knew was out of town, and it was time for me to stand on my own 2 feet.
I was living with 3 of my best friends at the time I accepted Christ. Which made it hard because our favorite thing to do together was sit out on the patio all night smoking cigarettes and drinking wine.
When Santino moved to the Bay Area, the house he was living in was his grandparents, and I was able to move in (rent free, thank You LORD!) to sort of "house sit". I remember reading through the Bible at the kitchen counter wishing I didn’t have to go to work so I could keep reading! I remember thinking “I can’t believe that’s in the Bible!”.
The first book I read on my own was the book of James. Mostly because that was my dad’s name and since his death was what launched me into relationship with God, I thought I’d check the book out! So I started to read through it at night and fell in love with it. It starts off by talking about trials and suffering, which was so comforting to me. It was the first time I felt God's word speaking to me, I could relate to it, I was encouraged by it, challenged by it, and convicted by it!
The LORD used one verse in particular to challenge me in an incredible way! I knew many people who “believed” in God, but you would never know it by their actions. I came across the verse where it says “You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.” (James 2:19, NLT)
This verse absolutely wrecked me. It was through this verse that I realized merely the thought, the believing that God exists, etc. does not mean you are a Christian, a follower of Christ, a disciple.
James is saying here that there is much more to your walk with God than merely believing He exists. Your belief should change your behavior.
If I was truly a “believer” than I could no longer go on drinking and partying all night long. I could no longer use vulgar language and spend money like it was my own. This verse was the beginning to helping me see that there is much more being a new creation than simply just checking a box.
My life should prove that I believe! Otherwise, how do I know I’m any different than the demons, who too just believe?
Soon after, I had to call my closest friend and tell her I just couldn’t go out drinking anymore. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I just couldn’t do it and continue to go to church and pursue Christ.
I asked her not even to invite me because I’d probably go (because deep down I still loved to drink!) but I was just too weak to be in the presence of alcohol. She didn’t really understand why I was making such a big deal over this, but that’s okay, because I did.
I realized that I needed to surrender ALL to walk humbly with the LORD. I couldn’t stand living like a hypocrite who believed one way and behaved another.
I feel like this verse in James was the line in the sand for me. It was the beginning of a new life.
Soon a friend invited me to The Well. My first church experience on my own, where the pastor was teaching out of Revelation of all things! I had barely even read the bible and here I was going to a church teaching one of the most difficult books in it!
One particular week the pastor was teaching on the church at Laodicea. The church where God calls the people “lukewarm”. “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” (Revelation 3:15-16) These were people trying to live one foot in the world, and one foot out. It was me!! I was trying to maintain my partying lifestyle and grow in the LORD.
So the message was loud and clear. If I was to follow Christ, I was to seek Him and His righteousness, I needed to flee from my sinful lifestyle. The thought of God saying He’d want to vomit me out because of living like this just devastated me.
So I gave it up. I made a decision in my heart to give up the drinking, the partying, the lifestyle and seek Him and decided to live for God and pursue the life He had planned for me.
That was 8 or so years ago. Lots of moments of struggle and sin after the fact, I can’t tell you the exact time or day I “accepted” Christ but I can tell you the exact verses that led me to believe and live for Him!
Now here I am, nearly 10 years after losing my Father, still in pursuit of the LORD. And even working for our church! Who would’ve thought?
From party girl to church girl?? From being bound by sin, booze, and materialism to walking in freedom with Christ.
His grace abounds. Somedays I wish I had a much more boring story to tell. That I would've accepted Christ when I was 5 years old and never left His side. But this is my story. Because I have seen my sin and fallen so deep into the pit, I am all the more thankful of a God who reaches down from on high to rescue me (Psalm 18:16-19). My sin, my past, my regret, had led me to understand His grace in a deeper way and live with gratitude towards my Redeemer!
From the pit to the King's table. From death to new life. From sinner to saint. From losing an earthly father to gaining a Heavenly Father. That's my story.
*For the rest of my story, click here: