By Miguel Martinez.
I already lost count of the times when I was little, people said "Miguel, you have so much grace". I never understood what "grace" was, I always confused it with sympathy or luck.
Since I was little my mom taught me to pray before eating, I remember singing a worship song with her before going to school so as not to forget that God goes first. Still, I did not understand who God was. Since he was a child I had questions that were not easy to answer; I remember asking my mom and my grandmother "How do I know that my God is the real God?" and the answer was "Because He is”.
When we lived in Cobán we attended a Nazarene church, and I remember listening to the pastor and saying "I want to do what he does, I want to talk about God", it was a dream that I kept in my heart because I did not see it possible.
Time passed, we moved to Antigua, I finished high school and I remember the horrible feeling of not knowing what I was going to do with my life afterwards. All my friends wanted to be engineers, doctors, lawyers, have businesses and I had not the slightest idea what I was going to do tomorrow.
Then I started studying Marketing, simply to say that I was in school, and almost at the same time I started a relationship. The problem of a relationship when you do not really know who God is that you DO NOT KNOW GOD (obviously).
I went to her church a couple of times and felt like crying during worship. I thought maybe it was nostalgia or something else; I did not understand that it was God wanting to touch my heart.
During the relationship I wanted to please everything she wanted, I felt insecure, I felt that the purpose of my life was only to be with her. I had fears, resentments, anger, but I tried to hide them out of fear to share them and cause the end of our relationship.
After about a year or so in that relationship something happened, I remember arguing with her and feeling ignored and that all the anger that I had accumulated was about to come out. I just remember moving my elbow a little, but it was enough to push and hurt her. It was not a big blow, there were no punches or insults, but it was enough to hurt her.
I remember begging for forgiveness, not knowing what to do. I never imagined that I was going to do something like that. We had big problems, we reached a point where we argued all the time, she had personal problems and I did also, but nothing could and cannot justify a physical aggression.
Love should never be begged for or demanded. Either it exists or not.
Shortly after this event, we broke up.
That's where the depression started, the feeling that I did not know myself anymore; that had no purpose. I thought that I would never forgive myself for hurting someone.
I did not find satisfaction in my family, nor in my friends, nor in my work, nor in my studies.
I tried to go to a church, but again, it did not impact me.
After a year with depression I remember that I prayed and said to God: "All my life I have heard of you and that you apparently take care of me, if that is true, show yourself in my life, I will not look for you or look for other gods, you have to reveal yourself".
A few days after that prayer I received a message on Instagram from someone I did not know, we started talking and she invited me to a youth event ... EVERYTHING in me began to tremble and I said yes.
I remember that there were 30 days until the event and I began to count them down.
When I was 1 week away, I started to get quite nervous, "What if I do not find God?" "And if I'm just disappointed again?" "What am I going to do if God does not show up as I asked?"
The day of the event I remember entering the church, I was very nervous and quite skeptical. Worship had already begun, I did not know any of the songs. It was dark because they were going to play a video. I remember thinking to myself "Did I come to here to watch a video?!", I never imagined that video would be God's tool to change my life.
The video is called "The power of the Cross". It is a message from Billy Graham where he talks about the meaning of sin and what the sacrifice of Jesus means in our lives. He presented testimonies of people who went from depression and suicidal thoughts to giving their lives to Jesus and serving him.
From the first second of the video I started crying. God began to break everything in my heart.
When Billy said "He loves you and is willing to forgive all your sins" I felt like everything inside of me began to tremble again.
At the end of the video, Billy makes a call to accept Christ and as that happened I heard in my heart a voice that said "I already forgive you, why don’t you forgive yourself?". I could not do anything but get on my knees and I cried like I had never cried in my life. I will never forget that moment.
I will never forget the feeling of gratitude, that every fiber of my body could feel the presence and love of God, his forgiveness.
Although I had never read it in the Bible, I knew that I was born again that night and my first words were: Whatever you want to do, I will do it.
When I got up from the floor, I was not depressed anymore. I no longer felt empty, but I felt this great love in my heart.
God looked for me when I did not look for him.
God loved me when I did not love him.
God loved me when I did not love myself.
God forgave me when I did not forgive myself.
He gave me courage and purpose.
Jesus saved my life and showed me my identity in Him.
As I write, I have tears in my eyes and I cannot stop thanking God because he gave me his grace.
Now I understand that his grace is what I do not deserve: his care, his love, his opportunities, his identity and mine.
Today I am married to the most wonderful woman I have ever met; my job is to serve Him with people who feel passion for Him.
Jesus redeemed every aspect of my life and I can only say: This far the Lord has helped me.