God Opened My Eyes
by Don James
My experience is unique, yet common to those who have encountered Jesus. It is a story of God’s intervention to bring me into a relationship with Him. I wasn’t seeking Him, I just wanted to live a good life. Yet certain things came together to make me lift my thoughts to God, and He opened my eyes to His reality, and to His love and mercy.
When I was 15, my mother started going to a charismatic prayer group at our parish (St. Mary’s in Rockville, MD). The very first night, God touched her and she continued going. God was doing a lot in her, though I didn’t know what it was at the time. She had a stressful job, and used to come home from work tired, and sometimes impatient with us kids. But now, she would come home from work, put on some Christian worship music and start to cook dinner while singing and praising God. I thought she was going crazy, but God was healing her of a lot of wounds from her childhood. She asked my father to go to the prayer meetings with her, but he didn’t want to go until 1 year later when the prayer meeting fell on the night of their anniversary. That night, God touched him and he continued to go. At this point, my twin brother and I realized it wouldn’t be long before they asked us to go with them, so we changed our work schedule to work on the night of the prayer meeting. We were afraid of what our friends would think if we started acting like our mother.
At the time, we were involved in a youth group called “Campus Life” at our high school and at the end of the school year, all the Campus Life groups along the East Coast would get together for a weeklong retreat. At the retreat, they spoke about having a personal relationship with Christ, and they said if you wanted to know Him personally, just ask Him to reveal Himself to you. At that point, I realized that this must be why my parents faith meant something to them, they had this personal relationship Jesus. My faith meant little because I didn’t.
So I asked Him to reveal Himself to me, and the first thing I saw was my sin. That surprised me, but I needed it, because I didn’t really think I was a sinner. I was a pretty good kid, an altar boy, I was responsible, and helped my friends, … but God showed me a number of things. The main thing I was convicted about was that if God created me to have a personal relationship with Him, it was something I had denied Him my entire life. When I realized that, I felt horrible and I started to realize I could not change the past, what could I do?
Then I had an image of the cross come into my mind and I sensed the Lord speak to my heart saying, “this is why I died for you, to bring you back to me.” When I heard that I said “yes” to the Lord, and I gave my life to Him and asked Him to come into my life. The joy that filled me was amazing, but what amazed me most was that God actually spoke to me, God was real, and He was personal! I even started telling my friends about God. I started getting up 1 hour early to pray and read scripture each day, and God would speak to my heart through each. I even changed my work schedule so that I could go to the prayer meetings.
My life completely changed – for the better! When you open your heart to God and listen, he will come into your life and reveal Himself to you, and He will help you to see your own dignity. He will bring healing and freedom into your life. God is not distant from us. He is always working to give himself to us.
I invite you to come to our Praise and Worship meeting. If you have never been to one, it will be different for you — but if you allow yourself to be open to the love of God as we sing songs to thank and praise God, you too can encounter Christ in a way that brings life, joy, meaning and purpose into your life.