Jeannette is a third year applied math major who enjoys baking, watching movies, crocheting, playing monopoly, and running.
I grew up in a Catholic home where my mom especially made an important place in her life for faith and she put effort into teaching me about God, Jesus, the saints, and the Catholic church. By the time I was in middle school, I went to Catholic classes and Mass every week. I thought I had a relationship with God and I prayed to Him daily. But I thought it was because of kind deeds, good grades, faithful Mass attendance, and daily prayer that God accepted me; I had no concept of how much God hated my sin and that it is only washing in Christ’s precious blood that can make depraved sinners acceptable to Him.
When a friend invited me to her Christian youth group, I was eager and interested to learn from the Bible. My parents allowed me to continue going to the youth group, but I had to keep up with all my Catholic stuff as well. In Catholic classes, we had something like a textbook which talked about the sacraments, Catholic tradition, and Jesus but at the youth group we read and talked about the book of James. I started trying to be more patient with others and to be careful with my words because that was how I saw I should live as a Christian in James (and I thought I was one).
Eventually, the youth group sufficiently convinced me of the importance of reading God’s word and I got a Bible from a thrift store. I started reading the gospels every night, but I tried to live out what I read in my own power. I also remember that I heard the gospel message from the youth group several times, that salvation is by faith alone without works added on. However, I just thought the pastor was wrong. In my mistaken view, salvation by faith was just a license to live a complacent life, and God’s standards were higher.
Nevertheless, as I continued to read the Bible, God showed me that the way of salvation was not through works but by God’s grace. I saw clear declarations of this fact in Ephesians, Galatians, and Colossians but I still struggled with what God’s grace meant. Was God going to let everyone into heaven for free? Were we all doomed because we could never earn our way by works?
After I shared some of my questions with a friend during my sophomore year of high school, she suggested I join a Bible study going over a book on God’s grace. Over the course of the study, God showed me the reality that Christ lived a righteous life on my behalf, and in Christ, God can see me as righteous when I trust in Christ’s righteousness rather than my own. There was a time when I prayed with my small group leader and asked God to save me, but I’m not sure if I was saved at this exact moment or as I understood the truths of the study, but God brought me to repentance and faith in Christ alone. After talking to my parents, they let me go to church on Sunday instead of Mass, and God grew me through biblical preaching and studies.
At the end of my sophomore year of high school, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. Roughly a year later after treatment and surgery, she died because of complications and breathing difficulty. God has been so faithful to me as I struggled within the trial to learn to hope in God’s character. Even though I miss my mom, I’m grateful for how I’ve seen God grow my desire to evangelize and grow my dependence on Him and His word for joy and strength to obey Him.
God continues to redeem me out of sins of pride, selfishness, fear of man, envy, and discontentment. As I study scripture I see more and more the depths of sinfulness that God forgives me from by Christ’s sacrifice, but I know that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). I’m thankful for how God is faithful to set me free from sin in my life and to produce fruit that honors Him. I was also so blessed and excited to have found GOC in college where God has encouraged and challenged me with so many brothers and sisters in Christ who desire to honor God in their lives.
As I continue to trust in God’s work in my life I’m encouraged by Psalm 37:23-24
“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.”
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