I often get questions about how my life was before I came to Christ. And about the difference between now and then.
After I became a Christian, my whole life changed. Literally everything! I started to see my life in a different light. The light of a Holy God.
It is important to understand that, while I was living from a New Age perspective, in my mind I wasn’t a sinner. That I wasn’t acting rebellious against God on purpose. I genuinely thought that I was living a good life. I thought I was a decent human being and that I was doing the right things, in pursuing wisdom and truth.
I genuinely thought that I, by working on self-improvement, I would be a valuable human being and able to serve others with my ‘wisdom’ and life experiences. I was social, I had good relationships on a personal and professional level, I was friendly, peaceful and thoughtful.
Of course, deep down inside I knew it when the things I did were somehow wrong, but I thought: at least I now have learned from it and I can advise others on what NOT to do. It didn’t feel like terrible, extremely wrong, but rather as an innocent little bit wrong. Something that could happen to anybody. It felt as a part of the process, of the way I had to walk.
Looking at myself through His eyes.
After I gave my life to Jesus, I had no other choice then to look back on my life and to look closely to what I had done in the first 52 years of my life. In the beginning I thought that it was altogether not THAT bad, apart from a few serious wrongdoings. I repented for all the obvious sins from the past I could see back then: the marriages that had failed, the adultery, the false teachings I had passed on to others.
But after a few months I was pushed by the Holy Spirit to look closer to the life I had lived. And then … I saw sin everywhere! I saw sin in my life every day! I saw sin in my thoughts every hour! I discovered that I breathed sin!
I saw that I had broken all God’s commandments, not once, but continuously. Not on purpose, but more or less as a way of life! Again, not because I wanted to be rebellious, but because I had chosen to be my own God. My life was about ME, myself and I, and I thought that was normal and necessary. I had a lot of idols. In my striving to become a wise, knowledgeable and respected woman I was eating from the forbidden fruit. This fruit was presented to me in so many ways, by so many people, teachers and the media. And I accepted: it looked, smelled and tasted great! Back then I didn’t know that I had to reject that food, I really had no clue.
When I looked again at God’s commandments I saw more …
I saw that I had lied in so many ways, I had committed adultery, I had murdered by being angry or hateful, I had used the name of my God in vain so often as if His name was nothing, I had longed for things that were not mine. I didn’t love my neighbors as myself.
And then … I saw that a lot of sin was still there ….
The shock of being broken
It was a complete and utter shock. I felt the burden of brokenness on my shoulders. I felt overwhelmed with grief about what I had done. About my disobedience to God. I knew that through Christ I was forgiven for everything I had done, but I had to go through this realization first. And I had to get down on my knees. And ask the Lord for forgiveness. Again and again.
After being confronted with my own brokenness on so many levels, I had to dive deeper and deeper into Gods word. When you have been in New Age and post-modern teachings like I have been, the whole idea of being intrinsically good is ingrained in your being. Humility, obedience and the awareness of sin are not really developed.
I had to make it a daily conscious activity to watch myself closely: what do I say, what do I think, what do I believe about myself. How do I look at others, how is my heart? Do I love my neighbors, my brothers, sisters? Do I serve them? What does God say about me? How does God look at people? What does God ask from me in relationship towards others? What does God say about specific situations?
A changed heart
Over the past 12 months I’ve had some great examples of how to live a Christian life. My heart and my life are changing, slowly but surely. I think I’m still the friendly and thoughtful Ingrid I always was. But I know now that I’m a sinner. I now know that I have to watch my heart. To constrain my tongue (which is very hard for a Dutch woman).
I know I have to be very careful with my thoughts. I know I have to check everything I think, say or do against the Word of God. I now know that if I want to be in communication with the One True God I have to obey HIS rules and not make up my own.
I know now that I have to die daily to who I was and to who I am as a sinner, to be able to rise and live in HIS light.
I know now why I need Jesus …. Because there is ONE thing that I never want to experience again, and that is being separated from God.