I grew up Catholic and was raised in a loving home. I left the religion I grew up in when I started searching for the truth and realized some of the teachings I was taught were not biblical. I kept Jesus as my God and the Bible as His Words, but like many people, I did not have the desire to actually open and read it.
2015 I became a Christian after I encountered God. Around that time, I rarely prayed but I remember asking God if what He says in the Bible is true about homosexuality. I wanted to marry my girlfriend at the time, the only serious relationship I have ever had. "Can I marry her? I want to marry her. Is this okay?"
August 13, 2015 God gave me concrete answers to those questions. My girlfriend and I smoked pot one night. We were laying on the bed, and as I was going to reach and hug her, two hands pulled my left shoulder down on the bed and put my two hands together in a praying position. I started seeing words in front of me.
"PRAY TO JESUS"
"JESUS IS THE ONLY WAY"
"READ THE BIBLE"
"BE BORN AGAIN"
I then saw a big book in front of me. Two hands opened it and started pointing inside. There was a voice that kept telling me to "READ THE BIBLE." God kept repeating those words, so I asked "Why?" But before I could even say the word, He knew and answered me. "BECAUSE I WROTE IT" I then saw a man and a woman facing each other like in a wedding. They were glowing. This instantly told me that marriage was meant to be shared between a man and a woman. What stunned me days after that encounter were the words "BE BORN AGAIN". Never in my life up to that night did I hear the concept of being born again. Opening the Bible and seeing those words in red was unbelievable. No doubt it was God who I encountered that night.
After that revelation, I honestly thought God was going to strike me dead. I prayed and begged Him to spare my life. I instantly thought of my sisters and what would happen to them if I died without sharing what I saw. My sisters would not know His truth. No one will know about His truth. So I told God I would tell the whole world about Him. The next day I told my girlfriend everything I saw and we both knew there was a decision that had to be made.
What happened next?
Nothing in comparison to the joy in my soul of knowing the Lord! I was so on fire for Him and determined to share the treasure I found to the whole world. I was leaping for joy. However, like every new believer, while I was growing in the Lord, I was spiritually attacked every single night after my encounter with God. The attacks went on for a year. Demons would literally be in my dreams telling me to go back to hell. I did well in the beginning but doubts started creeping in. My faith slowly weakened. As everyone kept reminding me about His truth, I kept feeding myself with lies and doubts the enemy kept throwing at me. I was convinced that God left me.
"Why would I experience all these nightmares if God's really with me?" My family and friends reminded me that this was a test of faith. But I was stubborn and eventually became suicidal. Why would I even continue living if God had already left me? I didn't see any point. My poor sister begged me to live after she caught me trying to take my own life. I thought
to myself "okay, if God has left me, then maybe I can just live for my sisters. Where are you Lord? Why am I going through this?"
I stopped praying and going to church for a year. Whenever I would talk to God, it was to tell Him how much He hated me for letting me go through things that I couldn't understand the purpose behind. I lost my faith, lived like a zombie, and eventually slid back into sin. I was extremely jealous of every Christian, even my sisters during this time of backsliding. I wanted the joy of my salvation back.
What brought me back to the Lord? His truth and steadfast love. I clung to the truth and He eventually won my heart again with His love. Even though I was faithless, I still believed everything His Word said was Truth. The truth will always be that...the Truth. When I backslid, I did not justify the sins I was committing. I couldn't. My heart simply could not deny His truth. I started praying again. It was the first time in a long time after my depression that I asked God for help. I was surprised when I prayed the very first time during that season in my life. God sent Christians my way the very next day after I prayed and requested to meet them. I instantly knew God was still with me. But my initial thought was "Why now, Lord? I'm staying, but I prayed to you a lot when I needed you. Now when I've been going against your will, you show up?" This kept on for some time. I would pray and ask for help and God would send help. I would then run away and turn my back on Him but my desire to obey God only grew stronger over time and I eventually surrendered completely. "Why did you answer me now Lord, but you didn't do anything when I was depressed?" After everything I went through, I realized Jesus never left me. Looking back, I am now able to see the things God did to save me every time but I was completely blinded by doubt.
It's only been 4 years since I became a Christian and these previous events in my life have taught me so many things. One of the most important lessons I have learned was how to forgive others easily. I was always the one who held grudges towards people even after I came to know Jesus. People betrayed me and turned their backs on me. I thought I would never be like that but after experiencing my own downfall and backsliding, I proved myself wrong. I needed a Savior just as much as anyone else in every stage of my life. I turned my back on God many times during my walk but He remained faithful and merciful towards me.
My sufferings made me more compassionate towards others. It made me compassionate towards the mentally ill, the backsliders, the weak in faith, the murderer at heart and everything that I was when I was depressed and doubting His words. I know my experience not only served it’s purpose for me but also for my family. I believe it strengthened my families faith as well. They trusted the Lord and God remained faithful to His Words. I was restored.
I am sharing my story for everyone who has walked away from the Lord. I know deep inside you miss the joy you felt the first time you believed! I am praying and encouraging you to come back to Him. You may not know how but make a step in faith. Ask, pray, even if you are mad at Him. Tell Him everything because He is waiting for you to come back. I am here to tell you that the joy of your salvation will come back! He is faithful and He is there with you throughout the storm. Stop believing the lies the enemy keeps throwing at you and start defending yourself with God's truth.
God bless you. - Maj Valero