I have a new website! You will be redirected to my brand new blog. Cory Nickols: Never Give Up

Friday, November 19, 2010

Never Give Up

About twelve years ago, I went through my first real faith test as a Christian. Sure, I had been through difficult times before, but this was one that shook the very foundation of my belief system. I grew up in a Christian home. I knew all the right bible verses and new all the stories everyone in church has grown to love! I could argue with the best of the bible scholars, defending my Christian faith with little tolerance for someone else’s perspective. Do you get the sense I was pretty self righteous and proud!

It was my freshman year of college and I wanted to take the large state university for Jesus. I quickly got involved in a Christian organization that helped equip students on how to share their faith boldly and effectively. I saw these students had a real zeal for God and I wanted what they had! They seemed to be unaffected by what people thought of them and they were not embarrassed to share their faith with others. I, on the other hand, was a “Closet Christian”. I didn’t want others to know that I was a follower of Jesus because I was embarrassed of what others might think if they really knew where I stood on God, religion, and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. On one hand, I loved God, but on another was weak, passive and struggled in so many areas of my life. On top of that, I was blind to all of it.

One night I prayed to God with a sincere heart, “God I want to KNOW YOU and I don’t understand your GRACE completely.” Little did I know, my pray would lead me down a faith filled journey that would forever change the course of my life! After I prayed, I went to sleep. I awoke in the middle of the night and these thoughts entered my mind for the first time ever. “How do you know your God is real? How do you know that the Bible is true?” These nagging thoughts would not leave me. I had never questioned the validity of the Bible, God or Christianity before and it really put fear in my heart for the first time ever. I no longer wanted to believe this stuff just because someone told me it was true, but I wanted to know why I existed and if there really was a God. If God was real, then, was He the God of the Bible or some other religion. I wanted to know if God loved me and could accept me as I was. After all, I didn’t like who I was! Well, these thoughts plagued me night and day for weeks and weeks. I no longer wanted to socialize, or do well in school. Everything I thought was so important all of a sudden wasn’t anymore. My brother even started getting concerned. I talked with lots of friends about this, but they quoted scriptures at me and could not give me solid answers. I turned to my pastor and he looked baffled at what was happening to me. It scared me even more. I sank into depression. I only wanted to sleep my problem away, hoping when I awoke it would be gone or things would be back the way they used to be before I prayed that prayer.

To make matters worse, I already applied to go on a mission trip to share my “Strong Immoveable” faith. Not only was I scared, but I was so confused. I cried out to God and asked for Him to speak to me and show me who he was…nothing but silence. I thought about other religions and even atheism. In the depth of my despair, thoughts of suicide entered my mind. “If God really loved you, He wouldn’t allow you to go through this…would He? Just end your life! For the first time, I realized those thoughts in my mind were not my thoughts. Something had access to my mind other than me and did not want me to find out who God was! All my options were up. I turned to everything I could think of to help me through what I was facing without success. I turned to friends, pastors, my own intellect, reasoning of the mind and my parents. No one could make these thoughts flee. In absolute humility and a broken and contrite heart, I cried out to God and said, “Jesus, I believe you are God and that the Bible is real. I believe you died for my sins and want a real relationship with me. I am questioning everything and I just don’t know anymore if you are real or relevant for my life. Please help me!” (God knows at what point we can’t take the trial any longer and is willing to step in and help.) Deep on the inside of my heart, I heard a still small voice speak to me and He said, “Cory the battle you are going through in your mind belongs to me. I love you. Do not be afraid.”

This voice cut through all the confusion and cloudiness of my mind and gave me such peace and hope. I knew that I knew that God had spoken to me. All of a sudden, memory verses I had memorized when I was younger came flooding into my heart and it was like God was encouraging me to trust him by faith just as Abraham did when he heard God speak to him. The God of the Bible is ALIVE!

I ended up going on the mission trip with an eagerness to learn more about my Savior and God. My doubt and questions did not end with this experience, but I knew that God was real and I was compelled to know Him deeper. One day while on this trip, I was reading and came across a passage that jumped off the pages at me.

John 15:1-2 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (NIV)

I had wondered why God would allow me to go through such a difficult season. This verse spoke to me so clearly. I had placed so many things before my relationship with God: friends, family, career, insecurities to name a few. God was letting me know He took me through this difficult season to expose things I placed before Him. When I realized those things couldn’t offer me the hope and assurance I was looking for, I sought after God like I had never done before! God was cutting areas out of my life that were hindering my relationship with Him.

The Bible says in Jeremiah 29:13, you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
God brought me to a place where I really sought Him out with everything I was. I no longer looked for Him half heartedly or looked to other things to provide my comfort and security.

During this trip, I was spending time in prayer and the Holy Spirit said to me, “You have finally given me the throne of your life” Up until this difficult season, I looked at God as my Savior, but not my Lord. He wants to lead and guide us and direct our steps down a path that will bring great reward into our lives. The problem comes in when we want to lead our own lives and do things our own way! For many years I did this and I was frustrated and defeated. When I finally let go of the stirring wheel and allowed God to have complete control, I realized my life took a turn for the best.

The Bible says in John 16:7, However, I am telling you nothing but the truth when I say it is profitable (good, expedient, advantageous) for you that I go away. Because if I do not go away, the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you [into close fellowship with you]; but if I go away, I will send Him to you [to be in close fellowship with you]. (Amp)

God sent the Holy Spirit to help us in our time of need and to guide us into Truth. He is there to teach us the things of God and help us all along the journey of life. Looking back, I am so grateful for the experience I went through because it helped me see God and life in a whole new light.

You might be going through a similar experience. God seems distant and you are going through one of the roughest seasons ever. I want to encourage you that God is there with you through the storm. He will guide and direct you to a safe place and grow you to be more mature in the process. It will be scary and uncomfortable, but the Prince of Peace will guide you. Trust Him by faith and lean on Him in this time. He has your best interest at heart and in time you will see…only Never Give Up!

No comments:

Post a Comment