Feature

40 Years in the Wilderness

Forgiveness saves a life

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While a Christian enjoys the inheritance of heavenly blessings and eternal life, a sinner is subject to the infinite mercy of God for only this lifetime. Forty years had to pass for me to understand this.

For reasons that only God knows, I refused to go to Mass even though my entire family was Catholic. My parents, whom I respected very much, raised me with strong social values, but they didn’t obey God in being faithful to their own marriage vows.

I grew up and matured intellectually without any obvious problems. I had the same desires as my peers to study, travel, work, marry and have children. Eventually, I met Rosa, the woman who is now my wife. Three years after we married, God blessed us with a son.

Lost in Lies

Even though I was ignorant of my need to obey God, I had good times and bad times. But my denial of God gradually grew stronger, and I began to criticize all things Christian. I made fun of Jesus and said blasphemous things, words that cannot be printed or repeated, all with the intent of mocking Christianity. I even joked that I wanted to become a pastor, because pastors were the laziest people in the world. I believed that God was a product of the imagination.

I earned a lot of money, and my adolescent passions were fed. I wanted to travel to foreign countries, make my fortune and have many adventures. I never thought of how this would affect my wife and son. So I pursued my desires, ignoring the deep pain within my soul.

During this time I entered into an adulterous relationship and became the master of deceit. I told so many lies that I began to believe the stories I invented. While I was in this relationship, I hid from Rosa and our son because I was too much of a coward to face them.

Eventually, I left my family and moved to Europe. As I sat on the plane, I realized I was making a terrible mistake, but my pride would not let me turn back. In Ireland I got a job where I had to work long hours and suffer verbal abuse. With all this, I pretended I was happy and continued to mock God and Christians.

But little by little an overwhelming sense of sadness engulfed me, although I now realize it was nothing compared with how I made my wife and son suffer. I couldn’t sleep; I was lonely and depressed. Soon, others could see my unhappiness, but my self-sufficiency made me blind.

Coming Home

Occasionally, I communicated with my wife and son by e-mail or telephone, but I never gave them any hope that I would return. After I had been overseas for a long time, my mother, who had always supported my undisciplined lifestyle, became very ill, and I was forced to fly back to Paraguay.

When I arrived, my family welcomed me without any disagreements. I was surprised they didn’t show anger or hurt, but I did not know that God was working in their lives to help them forgive me. After I visited my mother, I went back home. When I entered, I felt the immense sadness and emptiness that my absence had caused my family.

The second night that I stayed at my home in Paraguay, I discussed with my family whether I should stay or return to Europe. In the end, I decided to go back to Ireland because I felt that it would be an insult to return to my wife and that we would end up arguing over hurtful memories. It was a desperate situation for us. Rosa began to cry, although she later told me she was praying the entire time we were talking.

I looked into her eyes, and I am sure that at that instant God touched my heart. I began to cry, and I wanted to hug my family. God took us into His arms while we hugged and cried, but for happiness this time. I am amazed that God began to change me in this moment while I was still so far from Him.

Spirit of Change

I didn’t know that my wife had been attending an evangelical church or that she and many others had been praying and pleading with God for my return and for my salvation. I was not aware that God would use methods different from ours to bring us to Him. My wife had been praying that God would do whatever it took to get me to return home. I was amazed at all of this.

I felt guilty, but no one said anything to me about my situation. Everyone treated me with love. Rosa tried to get me to read the Bible, but I fearfully refused. She talked to me about praying to receive Christ, but I didn’t listen.

However, after some time, I read Genesis and fervently accepted Christ as my personal Savior. That was a restless night for me. I dreamed that I lost control of my body. I curled up in the fetal position and began to tremble. Later, a brother in Christ told me that there must have been a spiritual battle for me that night.

As I began to regularly read my Bible and pray, I tried to practice what I was learning. I discovered that many times, for the light of the Truth to shine in our lives, we first have to pass through a dense darkness. I had blasphemed and mocked, told many lies and caused much pain, yet God waited patiently for me. He waited with His arms open to embrace me and lift my burden, and I was not aware of His presence.

I am convinced that God has a plan for my life. He saved my body from destruction and protected my life so that I could become His servant. I now know that the mercy and love of God are infinite and that we are barely a whisper. I know that the Lord is my Shepherd and that I lack nothing. 

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