The lyrics from “All I Have Is Christ” so accurately describe the ignorance of my life before college, heart transformation in college, and current sanctification (of which I am an undeserved recipient).
I once was lost in darkest night Yet thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life Had led me to the grave
I had no hope that You would own A rebel to Your will
And if You had not loved me first I would refuse You still
I’m your typical pew baby—I attended church every Sunday with Christian parents since I was born. I “said the prayer” in elementary school and was baptized in sixth grade, though I don’t remember either of those moments. I had fun attending retreats, singing on music team, and even co-leading a small group. At school, I was that “good Christian girl” who never swore, partied, or cheated. I never had a reason to doubt God’s existence. I assumed that by doing the right things and being a kind person, God would love me, and I’d be fit to go to heaven. But I was so wrong! Ephesians 2:8-9 clearly states, “for by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” I thought that my works were the way to securing a spot in Heaven, so I was truly lost in darkness. I was blind to the reality of God’s perfect character and the rebellion of my own heart.
Growing up, I worked hard to earn leadership and internships and sought to find fulfillment from impressing my peers, parents, and myself. My mentality was me-centered; my identity was shaped by a long list of activities. Under a fragile facade of talent and confidence, I struggled immensely with self-esteem. My feeble attempts to be a “good” person were rooted in insecurity, shame, and envy. I wrestled with my identity. I tried to find my worth in grades, praise for my art, attention from boys, and the way I looked. Nothing worked, and my soul still longed for more. I knew the answer to this search was God, but stories I learned in church were just head knowledge. I did not turn to God until college.
But as I ran my hell-bound race Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state And led me to the cross
And I beheld God’s love displayed You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me Now all I know is grace
Despite the fact that I was running from Him, God in His mysterious sovereignty brought me to UCLA and this Christian fellowship, Grace On Campus. Since I’d been involved in church my entire life, attending a Christian fellowship was a no-brainer.
During winter quarter of my freshman year, God ordained situations which led me from intellectual knowledge to saving faith. First, I went out on campus to share the Gospel with strangers. I had major breakdowns and anxiety because I realized that I didn’t even know how to explain the very Gospel that I claimed to believe in. I discovered my deep fear of man and indifference towards truth—if I claimed to be a Christian, why couldn’t I articulate my faith?
Second, I was asked to write my testimony during that quarter. I was appalled because I didn’t know when I was saved… or even if I was saved. As I wrestled with assurance of salvation, I was alarmed at my insincere works that made me look “Christian.” If I claimed to be a Christian, why didn’t my heart align with my actions?
Third, God in His perfect timing brought me to full realization and repentance of my sin in tenth week of winter quarter. My eating and body image disorder which has relentlessly consumed my life for the last few years escalated in impure, dirty, and dark thoughts and actions. I had been mistreating my body by starving myself, over-exercising, then binging on food. I hated the way I looked, and thus hated God who not only created the universe but who made us fearfully and wonderfully. God literally brought me to my knees on the bathroom floor in the beginning of tenth week as I attempted to purge myself of food. I spent four days in numb terror over sin. My conscience ached with shameful guilt. I had been running a hell-bound race without even realizing it. I finally cried out to God, mourning over sin rather than taking joy in it, as James 4:9 commands.
During the GOC sermon at the end of my crazy week, the preacher challenged us to be overwhelmed by the contrast of my sin to God’s glory. I was struck to the core by this suddenly clear Gospel message. We have nothing to offer God, yet He atones for our sin. I can’t keep giving into sin and am called to repentance each day. The preacher ended by asking if God’s grace and glory is just an intellectual concept or a true knowledge which drives and sustains my life. I had no way of escaping the Gospel—I had to turn to God now.
We also sang Psalm 103 that night. That song awakened me to His grace, faithfulness, and steadfast love, as well as the assurance that “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” The Psalm commands us to “bless the Lord…and forget not all His benefits,” and I saw that I’d forgotten who God really is. I learned that godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation, 2 Corinthians 7:10. By entrusting my life to Christ, the burden of sin was lifted from my shoulders and placed upon Jesus Christ. I now fully trust that my sin is a personal grievance against God, true saving faith necessitates genuine repentance, and this calls me to love abiding in His Word.
Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands Could never come from me
Oh Father, use my ransomed life In any way You choose
And let my song forever be My only boast is You
We all worship something. It may be money, people, or fame; we may even call ourselves Christians but worship with a twisted view of God. After that night, my view of God changed. No longer was he a genie in a lamp that I only called upon in times of need, or a distant figure in the clouds. Now, I call him Father. And now, I serve in ministry, not because it’s fun but because I want to be used by God however He chooses. I read my Bible and pray because my soul delights in and depends on being fed by the truth. I’m baptized and a member at church. Now, I rejoice because Jesus is better—better than anything this world has to offer.
Through it all, the Lord is using this trial of my eating disorder to continually bring me to Him in active repentance. I’m going to be completely real with you: I still wrestle with this sin and so many others each day. The temptation to sin doesn’t just poof and disappear after you’re saved. Even if you don’t have an eating/body image disorder, the root sins of comparison, pride, selfishness, discontentment, and bitterness are probably something that you can resonate with. I am nowhere near perfect, so thankfully it’s not by my own strength that I fight sin. My salvation to an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, is dependent on His grace. In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, The Lord says, “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” It is by grace and grace alone that the Lord gives me strength to slay my sin. Praise God that now, I can say no to sin! Sin is no longer my master—Jesus Christ is my King!
Now, I know the Gospel. And the Gospel is this: Man is sinful and cannot earn his way to heaven because God is holy and justly demands punishment. But God is also gracious and loving so He sent Jesus Christ to die for our sins and pay the price that God’s perfection demands. If we repent from sin and have faith in this truth, God will forgive. I come with empty hands—no works, talents, merits—showing that only Jesus can save.
So even though we fall short of the glory of God, I rejoice because I can truly sing the chorus of the song:
Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life