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Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Blessed Assurance - One Year Anniversary

By Justin Edwards

Oh the bountiful, infinite grace God has for His children! This week marks 1 year since God led me to complete surrender to His Son, Jesus Christ. The last few days I've been reflecting on what God has been doing in my life over the last year, and I'd like to share that with you.

The Day Everything Changed

On Monday, March 9, 2009, I stayed home from work because I wasn't feeling well - this was largely due to the weekend I just had from drinking and I was still feeling the effects of it. More specifically, I use to suffer from what I came to learn as "anxiety hangovers". The few years before I had rarely, if ever, experienced the typical hangover (headache, nausea, or like I had gotten hit by a Mack truck); rather, I would usually come down with a great sense of general anxiety or panic. These were the worst feelings I've ever felt. It was all I could do to try and sleep it off, but the feelings that something was severely wrong would not escape me. I often felt that I was going to die in some cases because the panic was so bad. It's kind of hard to explain and I've only ran into a couple of people who have shared these same experiences. If you're interested to reading more about what others have experienced, check out this Men's Health thread: Boozing and Anxiety.

So it was during this time that I was lying on my couch going through my usual routine on the internet. I was browsing the internet when I decided to watch a John MacArthur video for the 3rd or 4th time. I had always thought this was a great short video on salvation and agreed with its content, it's just that I don't think it had ever really clicked before this time. So, I really paid attention to his comments on denying yourself, giving up on your own will, picking up your cross, giving all control to God, submitting to the will of God, etc.

Godly Sorrow

And then it clicked!!! I didn't even get to the end of the video before I was figuratively on my face seeking His forgiveness. All this time, though I was a professed Christian, I had held onto my own will and tried to "fix me" myself. Every time I had "felt sorry" for this particular sin of drunkenness, there was one element always missing: godly sorrow leading to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10). This lifestyle had been keeping me from an intimate relationship with my Lord and Savior, and it was well past due for that to be over.

This time was different. This time I was completely broken in my sins. This time I realized I could no longer fix my life by myself. This time I realized that I am nothing apart from Christ and I desperately needed Him, all of Him. I finally came to the point I was literally sick over the person I was. All these years I had claimed to be a Christian, yet my lifestyle hardly reflected this. I went to church on Sundays, played the Christian card, but really couldn't think of any fruit-bearing upon inspection. So that moment on my couch was a pivotal instance in my life where I finally gave up. I gave up on me. And I surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ over my life. I committed myself to Him in every aspect, and gave Him control over everything. And it was this day that God gave me blessed assurance.

A New Beginning

Since that day, I've been carried away, consumed, and overwhelmed by His grace and mercy. So many things have happened since last March; so many things He has done. Just two months later my beloved PaPaw was killed in an unthinkable situation. But the work Christ was doing in me, in just 2 short months, prepared me enough to cling to His peace that passes all understanding. After all, there was no one else to run to except Him. I retained the assurance that God stands in control and His plan is sovereign, period, and I held fast to the knowledge that ALL things work together for the good of those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:28). Of course, even to this day the pain is still present, but I am able to rest in His peace, His unchanging, everlasting peace.

Despite this unforgettable tragedy, there has been so much joy experienced over this last year. Our sweet miracle, Novella, was born in July 2009, and we found out just a few weeks ago that we are expecting again! God really is amazing. It was just in 2008 when we were being counseled with fertility options as the doctor said it was next to impossible for us to get pregnant on our own. We were to start treatment that October and eventually get into the "John and Kate Plus 8" arsenal if that didn't work in 6 months. But God had different plans. We found out the week before we were to begin treatment that my wife was pregnant - and now we're pregnant again!! I don't know why He has blessed us so, but I'm eternally grateful that He has.

But there's more. The work God is doing in me, in us, is remarkable. I'm not one for cliche's, but the phrase "let go and let God", well, I'm coming to learn that it's true. The moment I let go of myself, and let God take control of my life was the beginning of the rest of my life. He is molding me, refining me, and conforming me to Christ. The way the Holy Spirit is moving to cut the garbage out of our lives is incredible. It's drawing us so much closer to Jesus. My prayer life was comparatively non-existent over a year ago, but now I feel malnourished if I don't spend time with Him daily. And the hunger and thirst He has giving me for His Word is unexplainable, except to say there is a similar famish when I go a day without communing with Him. Most of all, the burning passion in me to share Christ with those who don't know Him is incredible. My heart continues to break for those who don't know what true love is, who don't know the Life they can have in Christ. I am so grateful that Jesus has placed this on my heart to witness to the lost.  I am grateful for the strength, courage, and wherewithal to serve Him in this way - to obey the command of His Great Commission.

Intimacy with the Body
As a result of this transformation Christ is doing in both me and my wife, our marriage has never been stronger. No doubt we still have our disagreements, but the level of grace, forgiveness, love, and compassion we have for one another has increased significantly.  I am learning, though I have far to go, to love her as Christ loves His church, and I can see a growing godliness in her and desire to serve our family as a wife is called according to Scripture.

And we are so blessed and thankful for the church home He has placed us. Sitting under the preaching of the whole counsel of God is a rarity these days, and we are so fortunate to have Pastor Livingston as our shepherd.  But more than that, the bonds we are forming with our brothers and sisters in Christ have been invaluable. Never before 2009 did I have a circle of born again believers surround me. The genuine love found in the Body of Christ can be found in no other anything. To have people pray for you, care for you, love you, account for you, listen to you, admonish you, encourage you, serve you, rebuke you, exhort you, and to be able to do the same for them is marvelous. And it's all because, and only because, we share a single common bond - Jesus Christ. This is the fruit and work that He does in each of us. When we love one another, it is because of the love of Christ in us.

Everlasting Joy

There are many other things I could share about the joy my Savior has brought me this last year. And the most incredible thing is - I will never lose it.  This joy isn't temporary by any means - it is eternal!  The world offers temporary happiness and it will fade; but the joy, peace, and hope I have in Christ will be with me forever. This doesn't mean that I will not suffer trials and tribulations - just refer to the death of my Papaw. But what it does mean is that when I am faced with life's afflictions, I can bear them with the confidence God remains in control over all things. I stand sure that this life on earth is but a vapor, and whatever I go through I pray it will reveal the glory of God. I pray that His loves shines through me each and every day, that I may be the salt and light He has appointed me to be. Most of all, I pray that His will be done in my life, even if that means I have to suffer for it (Philippians 1:29, 1 Peter 2:21).

By God's grace He has saved me - at which point in my life I do not know. But last March 2009, I received my blessed assurance, the hope of my salvation, and the confidence I will reign with Christ forever. I believe this is what happens when you surrender in humble submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. May He lead someone reading this to the same commitment and intimacy. Amen.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. - James 1:24, 12


  1. Justin, Thank you for sharing your testimony. It is truly a beautiful thing. I love you, Jennifer, Novella, and am very proud to be a part of "THE FAMILY." Keep up the good fight. Love, Donna

  2. Thanks so much, Donna! All glory to God for the work He is doing in me. I'm so happy I was able to share this with you. I love you and can't wait to see ya'll on Saturday!

  3. Excellent job on your testimony and what a powerful one it is! I am thankful that God is using you in a mighty way to spread His gospel, testify of His love, grace, & mercy, and encourage others in the faith who must carry on to do the same! :-) Thank you for surrendering to God so that we can all learn to do the same continually day after day!

  4. The new creation is evident brother....thanks for sharing...His power made perfect n weakness

  5. Thank you, Alex and Jefferson - that is so encouraging. May He continue to bring Himself glory through the work He is doing in me!

  6. Thank you for sharing your testimony! That was a blessing to me to be reminded of my own salvation story, especially of the fact that God could save anybody!


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