Holy Happiness (My testimony)
I grew up in the Southern Baptist denomination ever since I was adopted by my aunt and uncle at the age of seven. My experience in “church life” did not begin until I was 14 when I first professed my faith in Jesus the Messiah. I would live the next seven years with an inner desire to be holy but would wind up frustrated many times due to a lack of a spiritual father. I was always told to do this and to do that and don’t do this and don’t do that and I was so frustrated with myself in my inability to do things and not do things that I wanted to kick a porcupine. There was a 1 1/2 year span that I became a die hard legalist. I was determined to get this holy thing right I wanted to be the living example of Christ… how wrong I was I will never know. But, what it did in me was sow seeds of pride and hate and no manner of the fruit of the spirit in my life so after that bout I swore I would never travel down that road again. I was never going to force myself to do anything. But… what about holiness unto the Lord.
Needless to say I fell away from the faith after that. I started a very physical relationship with a girl that lasted 6 months. When that was over I was so angry with the whole world. My happiness was in that girl. I wanted so bad to be happy and I felt that I had no way out. So for the next 3 months I resigned myself to think that legalism was the only way I could make this work. But, one night I just threw up my hands and was about to give up. I bought a six pack of Corona and was determined to go home and get wasted on it. I have never been drunk a day in my life but I was determined that I was going to do it. I walked in my apartment that night and lo and behold I have company. My best friend, my brother, and a few other friends and a girl that I didn’t know at all. I wound up sleeping with this girl that night. The next morning I became a raging demon. I don’t know why but now I remember that a battle was being waged over my soul and I was being given over to demons.
For about a week I raged against anyone and everyone who said that I couldn’t live my life this way. I raged against all wise counsel. Proverbs 18:1 says “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire and rages against all wise judgement.” I was that guy. But one night I was spewing poison at someone who had prayed for my salvation the moment I stepped in the JCJC BSU. Brother Frank Porter. I was so angry at him and I was letting my best friend (Paul) know it. Then Paul asks the question, “Tim are you saved?” But at this time I was almost convincing myself that I was saved, so I said yeah. Fortunately for me Paul wasn’t convinced, he asked me again, “Tim are you really saved?” For the first time in my life I looked into my heart and I saw that there was something truly missing. Something I thought I had and people told me that I had simply because I prayed a prayer. God had truly sent his Holy Spirit to convict me. That night I got right with God as seriously as I could be in my heart.
Now, I have heard stories of salvation experiences where people get delivered from their habits and sins almost immediately. Not so with me. My salvation experience (which I’m living right now) is one of God’s patience with me. I was saved from my sins now I have to be saved into something better. There has to be more to this than just a prayer. So, I start reading my Bible. I was hungry for Jesus and my faith was fresh and new and I was a bit zealous. I would go around campus witnessing and just trying to start conversations with people about God. There wasn’t much else. I was a true testimony of God’s patience with me. Even though I didn’t realize it at the time.
College ends. I move back home and I start to realize that the experience at JCJC was over and if I didn’t guard what was in me I would fall back into the same legalism that had ensnared me before my salvation. That was the last thing I wanted. So, what do I do? I start going to a Charismatic church. Go figure. Everything I was raised into, these guys were the exact opposite. My church had pews, this one had chairs. The services were stand up, sit down. This church was crazy. In my old church the youth got as far back as they could. This church’s youth danced up front. I mean EVERYTHING was different. This was bizzare to me. But not too surprising because I went to this church on Wednesdays for a while before and I knew a few people in here. So it wasn’t an altogether new experience to me.
It was a Wednedsay night at the youth service that I recieved the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. I know this because I started speaking in tongues. This was a bit weird to me. But, It was something cool at the same time. This was a humbling moment for me simply because I mocked any Christian who spoke in tongues simply because I was convinced they were faking. So I did eat a little humble pie that night and swore to myself that I was going to do this Christian thing. I was going to be all that God wanted me to be.
It was here that one of my new friends, a chap by the name of Chris Castanza starts inviting me to Bible Studies at his girlfriend (now wife’s) apartment. I was zealous, but teachable. So, I went. For the next 8-9 months, I never missed a prayer meeting or bible study. I wanted as much as I could get. There were alot of kinks in my spiritual life that needed working out and sometimes I frustrated my friends with my lack of fascination. But I wanted God anyways and I did not want to travel down that road of legalism and trying to prove my Christianity. I wanted to be real more than anything.
Looking back on those experiences I am grateful to God for his patience with me and the things he has shown me since then. I do not regret them at all although I don’t miss them either.
The most amazing revelation I recieved during those times is that a person can truly live a life of holiness and be happy doing it. An even more amazing revelation is that holiness is supposed to be happiness. This really lights me up knowing this. Being a part of the House of Prayer and trying to live a fasted lifestyle with all it’s difficulties makes one ask, “How is this supposed to make me happy?” To live this way takes a great measure of trust in the fact that God knows more than I do and he has way more experience with humanity than I. There is a reality to a life of happiness and holiness. The first word that Jesus said in the most famous sermon in the world was Blessed or Happy. I want to know what it’s like to be happy and holy.
Looking back on what I was before I cannot help but to praise God for his wonderful work in me. He has more patience with me than I do for myself. One time I was frustrated with myself and God had to encourage me with this word. “Tim, you are my masterpiece.” I simply repied, “Huh?” God had to tell me, “Tim, I could change you in an instant, but that would ruin my fun, I want you to experience the joy I am having in watching you grow and experience me. What fun would it be if you just woke up and everything worked right. A masterpiece takes time, effort and careful precision. You are too prescious for me to treat you like a rush job.” Needless to say I cried, because I can truly rejoice in my weakness and say that I am perfected and he is truly perfecting me. It took him 6 days to make the entire earth but he wants to take about 70 years on me… Praise God for his ways are past finding out!