ARMy Christian JourneyI've lost my zeal. I'm down and in a spiritual rut. Where is God when I need Him? Do any of these sound familiar? Have you been feeling down and out recently about your relationship with God?Bro. Erickson shares his testimony of how God guided him through the years, and how the Lord Jesus led him to find the true church. His Christian journey is one that is full of trials and pain, yet with the thirst of Christ motivating him, he never lost sight of the greater prize of gaining Christ.
AN UNHAPPY PAST
Many years ago, in 1968, I made a commitment to Christ. I was truly zealous for the Lord but I had no knowledge of the Truth. Anything I tried to accomplish for Him came to no avail. I spent many years trying to tell others about Jesus, but it was very frustrating to me.
Even though I made a commitment to Christ, I still had a lot of problems. I was able to stop smoking, drinking, and using foul language, but I was unable to rid myself of the darkness that was in my soul. Discouraged and despondent, I entered into a period of depression.
If somebody was to ask me what it felt like, the only way I could describe it is the feeling of being at the bottom of a hole without any place to escape. I could not make rational decisions, and accepting responsibilities became a monumental struggle. I was desperate. At the time, I was also married with four children, but my marriage was a shipwreck.
A Second Chance
A little over eleven years ago, I got remarried. We both came with extra baggage in our lives. About six years ago, we determined that we must seek after the Lord.
We started to attend church. We realized that we really didn’t know each other, so we took three days off of work to spend time with one another, to read the Bible, and to learn how to communicate with each other. We also set some goals, one of which was praying together every morning. This may be common with some people, but it wasn’t common to me or my circle of friends. Another goal was to read God’s words everyday.
My wife worked the afternoon shifts from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., and I worked night shifts from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. She would wake me up in the morning, and we would have devotions. After she left for work, I’d have nothing to do, so I began to spend my afternoons in prayer.
As we kept up our devotions and prayer, we felt the Lord moving upon us and instilling in us a desire for a closer relationship with Him. He slowly began to show us our need to be baptized in Jesus’ name.
This was not acceptable to the church I was attending at the time. So we kept seeking God, praying to Him for His guidance. While we were seeking God, I became sick and unable to work a five-day week.
Dealing with Sickness
I knew that something was drastically wrong with my body. I went to a specialist and he discovered that I had bladder cancer. We kept seeking God.
We went through minor and major surgeries, and I entered a new phase in my life with a tolerance for pain I never had experienced before. I was unable to take the prescribed medication, so I cut the dosage down as much as I could.
The most painful time of the day was at night, after my wife went to bed. During this period, however, because our direction and goal were to be nearer to God, I felt as if His Spirit embraced me, even in my suffering. His grace truly is sufficient for us.
As time passed and I healed, that closeness I felt with God suddenly disappeared. I almost wanted my cancer back so that I could regain that closeness. But through my wife’s and my reading of the Bible and praying for our children, our relationship with our children improved.
Dealing with Loss
On occasion, I tried to talk to my youngest son, even though he didn’t have a desire to communicate. One day, we felt impelled to intercede for my youngest son in prayer. At the time, I had not received the fullness of the Holy Spirit, so we prayed for our son but didn’t receive any specific direction.
On September 8, 1999, I received a phone call that my son had killed himself. It is so true that we do reap what we sow. When you are young and have your life ahead of you, you have a great opportunity to be an example to your family. You have a great opportunity to serve God. You have an opportunity to affect your neighbors.
When we seek God and worship Him, we have to do so with everything within us. We must walk in His love, be obedient to His word, and be in contact with His wisdom and apply it in our lives. But I had not yet reached that point of my life when my son died.
COMING HOME TO GOD’S TRUE CHURCH
After this incident, my family rejected us, but we kept seeking God. We knew that there must be more to serving God than what we were experiencing. This went on for a period of time, and we began to attend another church.
I thought this was the one: “Finally, I’m going to find fulfillment and peace.” And yet, by what His word declared and the way He was filling my heart, I knew that this church was not taking us where we wanted to go.
I began to search His word diligently and used the Internet to look for more knowledge concerning the Truth. I searched hundreds of websites and read many doctrinal statements from different churches, but I failed to find what I needed.
One day, a woman at our church lent us a book. That book had a description of many churches, including the True Jesus Church. I liked what this church had to say. I was so desperate that I emailed the General Assembly of the United States (USGA).
I knew that they were very busy, but I wanted an immediate answer. I went through the list of email addresses and found one for Southern California, but I should have emailed the one for Northern California, which was closer to where I was living.
I got a response within a couple of days. This person invited me to the True Jesus Church. The thing that struck me so profoundly was what he wrote: “I will be your servant guide.” I thought to myself, “This must be a true Christian.” They referred me to the local church at Pacifica, California.
Brother Stephen Ku emailed me and invited me down for the church’s spiritual convocation. I was so excited. I was so hungry. I was baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. I came and I found peace.
Even though the Spirit came upon me in times past, it was never as powerful as it was on the day that I began speaking in a new tongue as I came out of the water. I had found hope for my children, because the great Comforter, who abides within me and intercedes for me, is also dealing with their hearts as I pray.
I’ve learned not to be selfish but to lay down my life. I am older. I don’t consider myself old yet, but I’m older. I don’t know how much time I have left, but with what strength that I have, I give it to the Lord. There is no greater calling, no greater blessing, than to serve our Lord. Seek God. Serve Him with all your heart. Be an example. Walk in purity.
FELLOWSHIP IN GOD’S WORD
The summer of 2002, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the National Youth Theological Seminar at Pacifica Church. There are a couple of things that I learned there. The first thing I realized, after a couple of days, was that I was no longer a teenager and that I could only do what was within my capabilities. I learned and gained a new determination to pray and to seek God.
During those two weeks, there was a closeness and a fellowship that I had never experienced before. When we prayed for the fullness of the Holy Spirit, I knew that He heard our requests and our prayers. I knew that He was preparing us for something.
We live in Coos Bay, Oregon, in an RV park. The RV park in Coos Bay is a field that is ripe and ready for harvest.
I know that I have neither the strength nor the courage to confront the challenges of presenting the gospel to my neighbors. This has caused me to cry out to Him for the fullness of His Spirit, to enable me to proclaim His word.
A Call to Action
That’s a change in me because before I came down for the NYTS, my wife, who is a truth seeker, was bolder than I in certain respects. I was always trying to calm her down, even when she was right. But I’ve changed.
This has been the greatest experience of my life. It has not been easy. What I’ve gained and experienced I will never forget. I ask that you to pray with me for my precious wife. We have one other truth seeker who comes over for Bible study, during which we listen to sermon tapes.
I recognize the need for change in my home. I also recognize where that change must begin—with myself: the way I conduct myself, the boldness with which I would proclaim his word, and the perseverance to swim against the tide.
Jesus came to speak to them…all authority has been given to me in heaven and earth. Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all things that I command you. And I’ll be with you till the end of the age. (Mt 28:18)
So, no longer can I take lightly any Bible study. Nor can I take any shortcut in prayer or water down the gospel. We must speak the truth. Amen.