By Fiona Grant
As yet another vehicle passed by my main road home slamming the newest soca songs, it dawned on me that 21 years ago on a carnival Monday, just before my CXC exams, I became a Christian.
It was the first camp I had attended with that particular church; the church at which I would eventually become a member and even get married. It was held at the Mason Hall Government Primary School, and I had decided to attend for completely self-serving reasons. See, my house, in fact my entire village, was usually so involved in carnival that it would be completely impossible to acquire any quiet time to study. I concluded that in a church camp, studying for exams would be definitely a possibility. To attest to my level of confidence, was the additional knapsack of books and past papers that I happily toted to camp.😅
On the fated Monday, an evangelist called Herman Castellaño came and talked with us; he was engaging and relatable, until he started to ‘mash corn’ I didn't even know that I had planted.
He said, "you are a good person: pleasant, helpful, respectful, diligent and smart; nobody have nothing bad to say about you. And you think that is enough! Well, let me tell you, unless you confess your sin and repent, and ask Jesus Christ to be Lord over your life, and live according to His way, then you will be a good person … in hell."
Now, I honestly thought I was good enough and I loved me the correct, ‘non-narcissistic’ amount, and I did attend church often enough and my family couldn’t complain about my attitude or behaviour, and I was absolutely certain that I was not as bad as many other people I knew; so yeah, I say I good! However, the evangelist’s words tore into my heart and though he had moved on, I can earnestly say I did not register anything he said afterward. I began to feel the weight of what I now recognize as conviction from the Holy Spirit. I sensed a divide within myself that was complicated: a longing to be safe, but leaving all I trusted in to find that safety. I received the revelation that neither sin nor salvation was a group project: one must work it out on an individual level. My teenage mind began to race, and being at the peak of my CXC game, it did not take long for me to calculate the depth of my error thus far in my life. And that calculation broke me.
The brokenness poured out in countless tears streaming down my face. I cried so much, that I could barely see a path through the cramped-up school benches to the front of the room. I was guided into a prayer of repentance and salvation and as I prayed, I immediately felt so loved and special and accepted and free...mind you, I didn't know that I didn't know those feelings in sincerity.
When I returned home from camp, I told my mother and a few village friends that I was now a Christian. Subsequently, I began to lose interests in certain activities, or limit my contribution in certain discussions, or purposely avoid certain situations. The scripture in 2 Corinthians 5:17 became my testimony and indeed the confirmation I needed to stand in the salvation I had gained through Jesus.
Can I say that it was all a cool, Grange Bay breeze? No, I cannot. The first 6 or so years were littered with enthusiasm for God, then struggling to leave one or two deep-seated, old habits. Unfortunately, I had even adopted some brand, spanking-new bad habits in that time, that really put a licking on me for years! But thank God for His grace and deliverance and for the humility to learn the lessons as they came.
I learnt to live the word of God and I learnt His voice through frustration, isolation, grief and even in the jolly good times; I learnt to trust His hand, even when it seemed undeniably ridiculous, ineffective or plain crazy; and I learnt how to genuinely, without regret or ill-will, let things go when he said I should.
At the time of being saved, I didn't think in terms of, “Well I’ll see how this goes in 20 years”, and I never had any laid out Christian timebound goals; meaning I never said in 5 years I must have some position in church, or in 10 years I have to have read the bible ten times or anything like that. My life goals and my Christian goals became inextricably knitted. I was a Christian, and that would be my life.
Years later, as I discussed my salvation account with my husband, I understood why I wept so deeply on that primary school make-shift altar:- in my heart I knew that the prayer was ushering in a new me, this would now be my life and there were things I enjoyed, that would never comfortably be part of my life...as long as I live. I cried for what I would miss, comprehending that those things were now banished, and I cried in anticipation of the glory I would see in this Jesus.
ON carnival Monday 2022, I felt so honoured when I considered my path and my faults and my growth, because I could see God's keeping power and I have known His forgiveness.
I have grown from milk to meat and not noticed...until I realised how my daily routine now includes things I had to ‘find time for’ in the earlier years, or when I respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit (almost) all the time without hesitation, or when I hear how the youths at church watch and admire my walk in Christ; or how I still impact strangers by the light of the Holy Spirit and the gospel of Christ...thank you Jesus!
This memory of rebirth was cause for much celebration because of the twenty-one years serving God with gladness, sure; but more so for the opportunity to even access this level of mercy and the daily love and faithfulness on display from my Heavenly Father for keeping me.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, my growth will continue in humility and in honour to God. Will I live to see 40 years as a Christian? I am not sure. Will I ever be able to identify each scripture reference I quote? Maybe not. But, I know whom I have believed in and I have been persuaded that He is well able to keep what I have committed to Him against that great day. I know that I will continue to press toward the mark of His high call; and that I will love Him with all my everything! I believe in the Trinity of God; I have committed my soul and its salvation to Him, and He has preserved me for His glory.
Have you chosen to commit yourself to Him, and allowed His grace to keep you?
Will you choose Him today?
Then prayer this prayer:-
Mighty God, I acknowledge your authority and majesty. I have come to understand that I have fallen short of your glory and that I am a sinner. I also realize that there is not enough works that I can perform that can earn me a place in your kingdom. With this knowledge, I ask for your forgiveness O God. Jesus Christ would have died and risen again to set me free from sin and I am now humbly before your gracious throne to receive that mercy. Cleanse me O God by your power and create in me a clean heart. Lord, make me over as a vessel of honour for You and conform my will to Yours. I accept Jesus as Lord of my life, and I thank You God for Your grace. Let me live according to Your will from this day until my death, or Your coming, through Jesus Christ, amen.
If you have said this prayer in sincerity, you have been forgiven and you are redeemed by the blood of Jesus. Make contact with us here at imaniblog, get yourself a bible and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to a trustworthy assembly. God is with you and He will never leave you; just do not walk out of His hand. We’re so glad you are a part of the family of God! Amen.
By Fiona Grant