In John 5:17, Jesus tells us that “My Father is always at his work, to this very day…” In Philippians 2:13, the Apostle Paul reminds us that “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” In our "Stories of Grace" feature, church members are invited to share a particular instance of how God has been at work in their lives.
Our contributor this month is Judy Bigby.
I was born in a culturally Taoist and/or Buddhist family that did not practice religion heavily. But they did practice it during special festivals, and lived within the worldview of a pantheistic Eastern religion. Ever since I was a little girl, I believed that there must be a lord of all the gods, the king of all the gods, the chief amongst the gods, and all the gods would have to listen to this greatest god of all the gods. I also would see ghosts. They would scare me by showing up in human forms out of nowhere, coming out of the wall, or just in a white cloud form, at first, and then turn into a white human form. None of the Taoist or Buddhist ways to appease these ghosts would work. Calling out the name of Buddha was useless.
One day, I asked my mother if she knew whether there is a God, or if she knew God. My mother answered me by saying, “I do not really know--some call that God ‘Buddha,’ some call it ‘Allah,’ and still some call it ‘Jesus.’ ” I thought to myself, “If she does not know, I will just ask him myself.” So I started praying to this lord of lords by myself, introducing myself to him and asking for his name and for his guidance in my life. I told him that I wanted to know him and follow his guidance, if he would reveal himself to me and show me the way to the right path.
Ever since elementary school, I had been blessed with very good Christian friends. This was true all the way up through high school, where my classmates formally introduced the whole message of the gospel to me, including sin, hell, and Jesus’ salvation available to me if I repented of my sins and received him into my heart. In the beginning, I thought it was crazy to believe that we did not all evolve from monkeys. It also seemed to be totally disrespectful to burn other people’s gods. This foreign God was definitely not for me! But the more I interacted with my classmates, the more attracted I was to the special kind of love they had between themselves and among their immediate family members. I envied it, and wanted it for myself.
After debating with them for at least a year, I had to admit that I was sinful like everyone else, that I had no righteousness of my own before God, and that I was heading to hell if I did not accept this Jesus they were talking about. As my friends prayed for me fervently, the Holy Spirit worked in my heart. Then, one day, when I was alone in my bedroom, I prayed to this God that I had been praying to my whole life and said, “God, if your name is Jesus, please let me know by answering three prayers of mine so that I would know for sure. And I will follow you all of my life, do whatever you tell me to do, and be loyal to you to the end.”
God answered all three of those prayers. One of them was for me to not have to see ghosts anymore. I stopped seeing them after that. As a matter of fact, when I sensed one, all I needed to do was call out the name of Jesus, and it had to flee from me. I then realized how powerful the name of Jesus was and how demons are terrified of his name. I did not know exactly what I was getting into, but God had mercy on me and helped me receive Jesus into my heart that day when I asked for the three things, and as I admitted to my sins and my need for a savior and lord over my life.
After that, as described by my mother years later, I was blissfully happy for an entire month. I told my parents that I had become a Christian, that God had answered my prayers, and that my sins were forgiven. What a relief to have all my sins forgiven! I personally do not remember that honeymoon month with God when I first believed, but I could imagine it to be a honeymoon high of the relief of the burden of my sin’s punishment and the start of having a personal relationship with God. After that first month, a constant joy has remained in me as I continue to walk with God in my everyday life.
I was not very well discipled after that because I had moved away from my high-school friends. But God’s grip on me never loosened. During my university years, I had a very good mentor from Campus Crusade for Christ who discipled me, challenged me to live for God, and changed me forever. All these godly friends and mentors shaped my spiritual walk, and I am forever grateful for these many individual witnesses that have made a lasting difference in my life. I would happily do the same for others, should God give me the opportunity to do so.