I got my first Bible on my seventh birthday, and I remember promising God that I would follow him all the days of my life. As I grew up, I had some experiences in my life that I wished never would have happened. I was slowly drifting away from God due to the influence of a friend, but God was not finished with me yet. On two memorable occasions, God brought me back and closer to him.
When I was 13, I was helping at an Adventist outreach with a girl I had become friends with while visiting my sister Jessica at her work at Highwood. On the second day of the outreach program, I asked my mum if I could go and she said, “Yes”. We got to the place in Melbourne where we were going to start the outreach. While there, my friend and I met a middle-aged man. He was in a wheelchair and came over to talk to us. He said that he had something for us and then gave us these three silver souvenir coins with Bible verses on them. He told us his story of how he had gone away from God and ended up in a bad car accident in which he almost died. Now wheelchair bound, he had come back to God and promised God to help other young people to find Christ and not to leave Him. He then said to me, after my friend had left to talk to someone else, “Do not try and run from God because He will find you; trust Him, put Him first, in sickness and in health. God loves you for who you are, not for what you could do or be, no matter what. Let Him shape you to His shape, not yours.”
On one of the coins, there was a Bible verse that has helped me in troubled times. It is found in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”
I got sick a few months later, and what the man said back then now makes a lot more sense. But I do have to admit that my road has not been very smooth. Sometimes I have been very close to not wanting to have anything to do with God because it was easy to blame Him for my troubles. But somehow God always draws me back to Him. And every time it is a closer friendship. He uses people and situations that only He could organise.
The second time God really saved me from leaving was a few months ago when I thought I could not go on any longer with all of this. I was unable to go to church and do lots of other things. I was not feeling very well, so, I went outside Werribee Church. I was having a fight with God and while that was going on, God had someone already waiting to answer all my questions that I was fighting Him about. An older lady came up to me and started talking to me. She didn’t know I had come to church. She just saw someone sad. I felt that God was talking to me through her. She really encouraged me and gave me hope. If you ever try to fight with God, know this, you will always lose but it is losing in a good way because you actually gain. Because He can see the end from the beginning, God always works out what is best for you.
I thank God for my family and friends, as well as the Bible workers who have studied with me; but I thank Him mostly for His love for me, for cleansing me, for teaching me the power of forgiveness and for letting me get sick so I could experience His loving arms.
There are a few songs that have helped me through the hard times and brought me closer to my Saviour. ‘I Heard the Voice of Jesus’, ‘Sweet Hour of Prayer’, and ‘If the Saviour Stood Beside Me’.
My favourite scripture is Psalm 51:10-12, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.”
This is my prayer always.
~ Melissa Brown.