Jenny is a second-year physiological science major who enjoys taking walks and eating avocado.
Reflecting on my life, I can see God’s grace and sovereign hand at work for His glory and for my good. Praise God for His ability to save even the most wretched sinners!
I was raised in the church; I attended Sunday school, participated in Awana, memorized Bible verses, and said quick prayers before dinner. Starting in middle school, I constantly had ballet classes that conflicted with Friday night youth group, and I prioritized dance over my pursuit of faith. I was quick to idolize ballet and neglect God and the church, and the guilt resulting from this that stemmed from my sinful heart eventually consumed me. I abandoned my church and thought nothing of religion while I danced. I danced six days each week, pouring all my energy and dedication into something that I truly idolized. I thought all my joy came from advancing ballet levels and receiving roles in performances, and I gave myself all the glory whenever I received words of praise or saw improvement, working not for the Lord but for myself and blatantly disregarding Colossians 3:23-24. Compliments and attention from teachers fed into my boastful heart.
I was diagnosed with scoliosis when I started high school, and I received spinal fusion surgery during my sophomore year. Three weeks after surgery, I started dancing again. I glorified myself during my quick recovery, feeling simply lucky that my body was resilient. I had no gratitude towards God, unable to realize that all this happened because of His grace and because He was incredibly merciful to me, for He provides me with all my good (1 Corinthians 4:7). My heart was still hardened to all my pride and sin, and as an unrepentant sinner, I truly deserved the consequence of sin, death (Romans 6:23).
Before college, I accredited every success and blessing to myself. My happiness and emotional stability were completely linked to my outwards appearance, grades, and social life. I was extremely materialistic and obsessed with worldly riches. I very proudly declared myself as agnostic whenever someone asked about my religious views. I disregarded my purity and truly saw Christianity as a hindrance from all the so-called fun in life and as a contradiction to all my social and political views because I chose friendship with the world over worshipping God (James 4:4). I constantly lied to my parents, thinking rebellion was cool and natural and thinking nothing of the consequences and weight of my sinful actions. I linked my identity to a boy’s approval of me, and once this ended, I felt lost. I frequently thought, “Why me? What did I do to deserve this?” I was not calling out to God in repentance but rather fueling my unceasing anger and hurt pride. I truly struggled at the start of college; I often felt myself falling into a pit of self-pity and self-loathing as a result of thinking about my past and about my sinful actions.
I came out to GOC to appease my family who gently encouraged me to check it out. I reluctantly joined a small group. My heart was so cold, often even hateful, to others and closed off to God’s perfect Word which I saw as foolishness since I was one who constantly sought worldly wisdom rather than God’s wisdom from above (1 Corinthians 1:18). After almost two quarters of persistent questions and love from my small group leader, I sat down to pray. I thanked God for His constant faithfulness and begged Him to be merciful to me, a wretched sinner (Luke 18:13). God, in his boundless mercy, forgave me for all my trespasses against Him (Ephesians 1:7). Studying Philippians in small group provided me with joy and peace, and I realized that I wanted to dedicate my life to glorifying God.
I studied one of my favorite verses in Philippians while I wasn’t a believer: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). God sacrificed His perfectly obedient son to pay for the sins of man, and Christ’s sacrifice on the cross gives us true hope of an eternity spent in Heaven as an heir with Christ (Romans 8:17). In Christ, there is forgiveness. God is so merciful in giving me the assurance of salvation and in choosing to adopt me even before the beginning of time (Ephesians 1:4-5).
Looking back, I am absolutely astounded by God’s sovereign will and how He chose to adopt me as His own. I see how He used trials to humble my boastful heart and to help me see the countless joys in my life, especially during trials used to test the steadfastness of my faith (James 1:2-4). Now I know that upon standing before God, I will be clothed in Jesus’s righteousness, and I have done nothing to deserve this. Fighting sin is still a constant struggle, but God provides me with the strength necessary to no longer be a slave to sin but to be an obedient slave to righteousness (Romans 6:17-18).
During times of joy, throughout times of trial, and through every season of life, “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1). God has given me understanding of His good news, and though my heart is prone to wander and fall to temptation, I will cling to God, and my defensive shield shall be the gospel: Man is sinful and because God is perfectly just, He must punish sin with what it righteously deserves–death and an eternity in hell; However, God is also perfectly loving, just, wise, sovereign, and works all things according to His will (Ephesians 1:11), so He sent Jesus Christ to satisfy His wrath in our place. We are reconciled and brought near to God through Christ’s blood if we repent and have faith. Praise God for His boundless mercy displayed towards us!