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I was a teen when my mom took me to a church service. Slumping down in my seat, I tried to separate myself from the words, music, and activity around me. In my boredom, I focused on a large gold banner that read: “For God So Loved the World. John 3:16.” To relieve the monotony of having to just sit there, I defiantly read the words over and over again. I didn’t know until years later that those words had taken root in my heart.
I went on to become a “wild child,” while my mom prayed fervently. As a young professional I worked hard and played hard. Eventually I was married and had my first son, Jimmy. When he was five months old, he was diagnosed with two rare, life-threatening disorders. I was overwhelmed with worry and grief.
Some Christian friends had given my husband a book about a family whose son had severe medical needs. One night in desperation, and looking for anything that would make sense of our situation, I picked up the book and began to read. Suddenly, feelings of anger came over me, and I started to “talk” to God. I said, “Lord, I want to be in control of my life, but I cannot control this.”
Then the words from the gold banner—and the rest of John 3:16—came back to me in full force: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
I argued with the Lord, “Are you asking me to give my son over to you, the way you gave your Son over for me?” Then,
in weakness, I prayed, “I am not as strong as you are, God.”
What followed in the next moment was a great exchange. I gave my son Jimmy to the Lord, realizing that God loved him even more than I did. Then I received God’s Son, Jesus Christ, into my life. I thanked Him for dying on the cross for my sins and asked Him to come and take control of my life.
There is no worldly explanation for what followed. My sorrow, despair, and grief were replaced with unspeakable joy. My circumstances had not changed, but there was a change in me. Three years later my joy continues. God is using my son’s disorder to show His love and care for my family. Things in this life are beyond my human capacity, but they are not beyond God. My heart is full of gratitude, and I feel alive for the first time.
Gia’s goal for the New Year was that she would be an image bearer for Christ. With that in mind she began a 21-day fast, seeking direction from God as she thought about the story of hope she had to share with others. The January sermon series, “Stories,” reiterated everything God had been saying to her—that He wanted to use her to encourage others. During the series, Gia followed Dr. Lon Allison’s direction to make a list of people to pray for.
Miraculously, all five friends on her list called her “out of the blue.” Each of them was in distress and needed comfort and hope. Gia was able to share the story of how God changed her life from one of despair to one of joy. Knowing that coming to the Lord can be a long process, Gia is happy she was able to give some words that can take root in the hearts of her friends. One of those friends has showed interest in coming to church with her in the near future.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. —2 Corinthians 1:3–4
Never underestimate the power of your story!
Telling our stories helps others to know us better and gives them a real-life picture of what it looks like to personally experience God’s grace—telling them how being a Christian is not about what we do, but what God did for us.
What story could you tell?
Visit our Stories page at wheatonbible.org/Stories and share your story of how God has changed/is changing your life!