I Didn't Believe God Would Forgive Me
(By: Maria Davies)
'A couple asked me if I knew Jesus Christ as my Savior. I was a Catholic so I assumed I did. When they asked me if I wanted to become reborn (born again), I had no idea what they were talking about.'
I was born October 1971, in Johannesburg, South Africa. My parents couldn't speak English at that time; therefore my first language was Portuguese. My sister, Nela da Mata, is eight years older than me and when I was nine, she got married and left the house.
I was very spoiled in the sense that my parents provided me with everything (materially), but I remember feeling very lonely at a young age. I used to have many imaginary friends.
My parents were very strict and I wasn't allowed out often. We used to go to the Catholic Church every Sunday, but I always remember feeling bored and had a lot of questions about the religion.
When I was in high school, I started smoking through a friend who also lived on the same road as we did. Both my parents were non-smokers and therefore I would hide my smoking, until the day my mother caught me. I got in great trouble for it.
By that time I was becoming very rebellious, and at the age of 17 I ran away from home. I moved in with a guy who was 19. We had met only a few months earlier. His name was Tommy, and he became the father of my first child, Chantel. That happened a year after I had moved out of the house.
I was enjoying my new independence and loving life. I also had a daughter. She was six months old when Tommy was tragically shot dead on his 21st birthday. I was 19 at the time, and I moved back to my parents after that with my two children.
A year following Tommy's death I went through some pretty strange spiritual stuff. I couldn't sleep at night. My daughter would wake up at 3 AM (the time her father had died) every morning for the first four months after his death. I also heard his voice the first night after his death. All these things were confusing and it made me very scared.
My mother took me to what was called a "Spiritual Hospital" for the Catholics. I felt very weird in that place - very creepy. The lady who spoke to us was the medium and she described Tommy from head to toe. They put me in a room with other people in distress and in darkness.
About half a dozen people in white uniforms would pray over each person and "remove" any evil things around them. After the third time or so, I told my mom I wasn't going anymore. It freaked me out.
As time passed by, the spiritual experiences at night started getting less. I then met Audi Davies, and shortly afterwards, moved in with him. My parents wouldn't allow me to take my daughter with me and that's why still today she's with my mom in Portugal.
Six years later I became pregnant again and had my son, Luciano. After that, I had another son, Lorenzo, and then a daughter, Graciella, who is now five years old as of 2006.
I became known as the black sheep of the family - unmarried with four children, living with a man out of wedlock.
Audi got involved in crime, and after some time I did so also with him. I then started gambling. After some time, I was completely obsessed with gambling. We started falling into a financial crisis. I would take my whole salary and gamble it in a few hours. Afterwards, we would steal to get through the month.
Things continued this way for a long time. Five cars of ours got stolen in two years. In 2001, I stole money from the boss I was working for and we relocated. That money only lasted about six months.
We started stealing again. I got involved with many wrong people, which I don't even want to mention specifics.
By 2003 our lives were totally messed up. Between obsessive gambling and stealing, and the irresponsible parenting on our part, my three remaining children were taken away from me and Audi and I separated for about four months.
During that time of separation, I was convinced that there was no reason why I should become a better person due to the things I had been doing, and there was no way God would ever forgive me anyway. But I loved my children dearly, and after fighting for them in a children's court, they were returned to us six months later.
By this time we had nothing -- no jobs, no accommodation, no friends. Audi eventually managed to find a job, which paid very little, and with that we shared a flat. But life was tough. Six months later, the person we shared the flat with got married and we couldn't afford the rent. We moved into a caravan, which we are still living in today.
After moving into the caravan, Audi lost his job. We were virtually destitute. Then one day we were approached by a lady we had gotten to know. She encouraged us to visit her church. I refused, but my husband went, and after a week, he took the children. I still refused, but about two weeks later a couple who attended that church visited us at the caravan. They asked me if I knew Jesus Christ as my Savior. Catholics also believe in Jesus so I've always assumed that I did believe in Jesus. Then they asked me if I would like to be re-born (spiritually born again). I said OK, not really knowing what it really all meant.
I then started visiting the church on a weekly basis. At first, I felt very out of place. These people would sing, clap hands and I found that very strange. The devil still had me convinced God would never forgive me for all my sins.
As the weeks passed, certain things started happening. Audi started selling Open/Closed signs door-to-door, and the little money we got I appreciated it - something I never felt before. People would bring food and clothes. I was very embarrassed of where I stayed (the caravan), and would avoid inviting anyone over.
We attended a beginner's Bible study and only through that did I start realizing that God could forgive me, and would forgive me.
At the end of the Bible study course, the pastor said he was going to lay hands on us and pray for us, to receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Upon so doing, that was the first time I ever felt the presence of God! It was awesome, indescribable! It felt as if God was talking directly to me.
I have never been the same since! God has become so real and alive in my life! He has become everything to me! All I want to do is please Him now! Before, I just wanted my sins forgiven and didn't even believe He would or could forgive them, they were so bad. I was so blinded to the truth of the Bible, that God will forgive anyone's sin, no matter how bad they may believe it is, or how many times they committed that sin and 10,000 others just as bad! The devil does not want people knowing that, let alone believe it! It took the work of the Holy Spirit in my life to break through the lies the devil had brainwashed me with. I thank God so much for the Holy Spirit! When we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit is given to us freely, the Bible promises, to live in proper relationship with God.
After being prayed for to receive the Holy Spirit, I immediately knew that I had to get married. Audi and I had been living in sin. Two months later we were married. We had no money, yet I was blessed with a wedding dress right down to the food catered for on the day of our wedding!
My children, who had become very disobedient, started changing as well! For the first time as a family, we shared love and peace, even though in our circumstances we were far worse than we had ever been financially.
I remember one day after praying for food and finances to cover our rental for the caravan . . . later that day, a couple we barely knew came to visit and the husband said he had had a dream and was told to come and give us R400, which was exactly what we needed for our rent!
A few months later we were blessed again. It may sound coincidental, but I know for sure now that only God made that possible.
I have since been water baptized and even though the 'straight and narrow road' is very tough in the sense that you have to sacrifice many things your old selfish nature wants at times -- to be able to do the 'right thing' -- this life is far more tranquil than what I ever knew before becoming born again. Living the life of sin is living the life of selfishness. Living the life of selfishness is a one-way trip straight to hell upon dying.
For the first time in my life I have direction and purpose in my life. I am a part of the family of God and God has work for me to do to help others find their part in the family of God. I don't take life for granted anymore. I have eternity to live for, and until I cross over into eternity, God wants me helping others to find their place in the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. I still live in a caravan, but I now have faith that in God's time He will take us out and put us in a more comfortable home.
And yes, there are still times when I may do wrong things, but it's very different because I no longer choose to live a rebellious and destructive life like before, which Satan wants everyone to do, but I choose life through Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth, the life and only when he touches your life can you fully understand the truth. It's something I can't fully explain but I know it's real. Thank you heavenly Father for your Son, Jesus Christ!
The Open/Closed signs Audi started selling increased as the months went by, and last month we registered a signage business. He started with no money, but God has made it possible that we could make the business grow. Even though the money we get from the business just helps us to survive, I know God is always there for us, just like a loving Father.
Two months ago, I got a job as a receptionist. I believe God opened that door for me, because during the time of December our business was very quiet and we couldn't use the vehicle (loaned to us Mon-Fri) because the owner was on two weeks leave.
You see, God knows everything before the time and He makes provision for you without your even knowing it. When you don't put God first in your life, things keep going wrong and I believe that God allows those things to happen to you so that you will sooner or later turn to Him. It takes a great deal of suffering before most people will turn to real spiritual truth instead of counterfeit 'religion', to those who are willing to become truly spiritually born again, who are willing to put the Lord Jesus Christ first in their life and allowing everything else to have secondary importance. That's the way it is going to be in heaven for all eternity, so what is wrong with starting to practice it now? The truth is, if one doesn't start practicing it now, you may never get the chance to practice it in heaven, because you may not get there. You don't know if you'll be alive on this planet tomorrow. None of us do.
I pray that my testimony, to God's glory, can help someone out there who feels desperate - just as I was a few years ago. I now know that I am special and unique, just as each and every one of you are too! No matter what you've done . . . Jesus Christ already paid the price by dying for each and every one of us on the cross so that we can have a new life and have all of our sins forgiven, no matter how many there are to forgive, or how terrible we think they are. Jesus Christ forgives all sins! All!
Satan likes to distract us with everything he can to keep us from thinking about eternity. But if you think about it, compared to eternity, this life is really very short. There is eternity, and God the Father has made a way for us to spend it in glory with Him, by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to this world some 2000 yrs ago to take full punishment for the sins of every person ever to be born, or who ever will be born, not because we deserve it, but because He loves us.
GOD IS LOVE - and God created all of us in His image. You were created to spend eternity with Him, but you first must become spiritually born again (reborn) like I had to become. Just because you 'believe in Jesus' doesn't mean you'll get to heaven. It's what you believe about Jesus that will qualify you to get into heaven or not. If you don't believe that Jesus took full and complete punishment for all your past, present and future sins, you don't know (or yet believe) why He even died on the cross for you. He died on the cross for you and every person to take God the Father's punishment for each and every one of our sin, so we could receive full and complete pardon for them the moment we receive this free gift of Salvation (complete pardon for our sins) from Him. How does one receive this free gift of pardon? By admitting and telling Jesus Christ you are a sinner, ask His forgiveness for the sins you have committed, and tell Him you believe He died on the cross in your place. You and I are the ones who deserved to hang on that cross 2,000+ years ago, not Him! But, He purposely and willfully took your and my place, took all your and my punishment, so you and I wouldn't have to!
Be thankful for it, telling Him you're thankful for it, and ask Him for the gift of the Holy Spirit to help you start living like a disciple of Jesus Christ; this is the process of becoming spiritually born again that Jesus speaks of in John Chapter 3. You are 'Saved from your sins' when you tell God that you believe with all your heart that Jesus Christ took all punishment for your sins upon Himself, and because He did that, your spirit is now clean as freshly fallen snow. The Bible says when you do that, literally, God not only forgives your sins, but listen to this -- He remembers your sins no more! What an incredible promise! Who would not want to give themselves to a God who is so loving -- so merciful ' so forgiving?!
And what about any sin(s) you will commit after you put Jesus Christ first in your life? The Bible promises us in 1 John 1:9 that if we will confess those sins to Jesus, He forgives us of them! He never stops forgiving us of our sins, as long as we'll confess them to Him and receive His forgiveness! The devil will try to trick you into believing Jesus won't, but that's a lie! And, the Holy Spirit will help you to stop sinning the same sin over and over, if you truly are serious about wanting to be right with God. He's a whole lot more patient than most of us are, I've also come to understand, so if you don't get victory over the same sin you keep committing over and over, be patient with God. A time will come when He gives you victory over it, if you are serious about your standing with God.
I pray that you too find God's love and forgiveness through His Son, Jesus Christ - who is the only way to the Father, which is the only way any of us will get to spend eternity with God and others who are in heaven.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and may God richly bless you, and may the plans He has for your life be fulfilled. They will be, if you get serious with God and purpose to let Jesus Christ be first in your life in all things, and the Holy Spirit is the One God sent to help you and I do that. It's a process, and God is very patient, like I said. I am so thankful that He is patient. That's just part of His love for us as well.
Put Jesus Christ first in your life. He put you first in His life when He walked this planet. He proved that He put you first by dying for your sins on that Cross some 2,000 years ago. Do you know of anyone else who died for your sins and didn't even have to? Do you know of anyone else who would take full punishment for your past, present and future sins, when He didn't have to? Do you know of anyone else who would do such a thing ' totally free of charge, simply out of love and compassion!?
Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. You can even have that assurance RIGHT NOW! Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you...please don't make such a tragic mistake.
To get to know God, to be at peace with God, to have your sins forgiven, to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity, to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help you understand the importance of being reconciled to God. What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one. Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life, because in Christ, it is impossible to put a value on the worth of your soul in light of eternity.
PLEASE HELP US HELP YOU SHARE THE BEST NEWS GOD HAS FOR EVERY PERSON BECAUSE...
JESUS DID IT! and...
Remember: All that we do in this life comes back to our God-given purpose which is to serve and glorify God. The money and assets we accumulate, the fame and power we've attained or seek to attain - all of the things of this nature will one day pass away, but those lives of others we impact for Jesus Christ will last for eternity, and we will be rewarded for the part we helped play by impacting those lives ... for eternity. (Matthew 6:19-21 is our assurance)