Amazing Grace: The Testimony of Christine A. Narloch

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Amazing Grace: The Testimony of Christine A. Narloch

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AMAZING GRACE

 

By

Christine A. Narloch

At a young age, I remember peering out of an upstairs window at my grandparent’s home while there was a lot of trouble going on downstairs.  As I stared into the sky at all the stars, I wondered… “Why am I alive? Why am I here? What is life all about?”

Before Christ

I grew up in a modest home with hard working parents who raised five kids.  There were various struggles and finances were tight yet we were always provided for.  There were also attempts to take us to various churches.  Early on, my parents experienced hypocritical church leaders which lead to the end of any church going.

Like some kids, I went through awkward times seeming to never quite fit in.  There were times of rebellion leading to all kinds of bad situations.  As I graduated from High School, I only went further into rebellion.  I’ll spare the graphic details.

Back in the early years of High School, I was very fond of a particular boy.  We never dated or even talked for that matter but I remember wondering, “Will I ever marry Mike Narloch, Jr.?”  Well, he graduated and I lost track of him until our paths crossed five years later.  Within a year and a half, I found myself…

  • marrying Mike on a tropical Island with a nice ring on my hand,
  • pursuing a career and eventually attending weekend college full time, and
  • living in a beautiful condo, eating in fine restaurants and taking extravagant vacations.

I even had someone cleaning our condo.  I really thought I was special, you see.

Movies and romance novels promote such a life style as ideal.  I’ll tell you a secret. In reality, Mike and I were struggling in our marriage.  My work and school schedule were overwhelming and filled with problems. (And of course, I assumed most of the problems were because of others.)  The beautiful condo, fine restaurants and extravagant vacations provided me fleeting moments of pleasure to escape reality.

In 1995, almost two years into our marriage, I thought about going to church. Soon Mike desired to go to church too. We went to a Bible-believing church and I ended up rejecting everything. Mike continued to attend and I gave him lots of excuses why I couldn’t. He started to read the Bible and kindly shared what God said about right and wrong. Most things I didn’t agree with and I argued a lot! I thought he had gone off the deep end with the Bible stuff and I told everyone I knew about it for a full year and a half.  I told people he was crazy and a Bible-thumper.

Now God always seemed distant from me. I often thought, “Who was God to tell me what was right and wrong?” Besides, a lot my problems were because of the choices of others. What did my thoughts and actions have to do with anything anyway?  Everyone sins and it’s even fun at times. After all, I heard Christians were the cause of the world’s problems. God wasn’t very accepting and put lots of restrictions on people. If only people would have the freedom to do whatever they wanted to do, we would all be happy and have a peaceful world.

Now I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted to do, but why did I feel trapped and miserable? And who was to blame?

The Problem—Sin

I remember one time when Mike and I were in the car, he asked me, “How do you think you’re going heaven?” “Odd question,” I thought. “Because I’m a good person,” I replied. He said something like “the Bible says Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven. Trusting Him for the forgiveness of your sins is the only way.”

I was livid!!! Why wasn’t I good enough to go to Heaven!?! Besides, I was baptized as an infant. Why were my sins now an issue? Sin is such an old fashion word anyway. Everyone sins! Looking back, growing up I knew I was accountable to my parents, elders and authorities, but never to God. Why did He care what I thought and did?

Well, God’s standard is revealed in the Ten Commandments.  The Ten Commandments are God’s way of showing us His holiness and how we’ve failed to keep His perfect, holy moral law.  The Commandments show us our sin against God.

If I compared my sins to Hitler, I look like a good person. Yet, if I compared my sins to a perfect, holy God, I’m a very sinful person and guilty of breaking God’s moral law. Let me show you.

Remember my career and college I spent so much time pursing? After things weren’t going well with my husband, I put all my energy and hope into my career and education; ultimately exalting this above all else.  God was not my number one pursuit.  I was breaking the 1st Commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).

Remember the beautiful condo, fine restaurants and extravagant vacations? I was breaking the 10th Commandment, “Thou shall not covet…” (Exodus 20:17). I pursued and desired things that wealthy people owned as well as desired to obtain those things to bring me pleasure.  I put my hope in material possessions rather than God.

Remember my being livid when Mike told me I needed my sins forgiven? I broke the 6th Commandment, “Thou shall not kill” in my mind! Jesus says hatred, toward a person, is the same as murder (Matthew 5:21-22). I hated and mocking Mike for telling me what God’s Word said. Ultimately, I was hating God because I hated His holy ways.

I could keep going. I’ve lied, stolen, dishonored my parents through my rebellion and used the Lord’s name in vain. You get the picture.

There is an enemy warring against our souls.  The devil is his name.  His desire is to cause us to doubt God’s Word, deny God’s Word and deify ourselves just as he did in the garden of Eden with Eve.  Look at the lies Satan told Eve in the garden:

  1. “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden…” Genesis 3:1 (Doubt God’s Word)
    2.  “Ye shall not surely die…”  Genesis 3:4 (Deny God’s Word)
    3.  “Ye shall be as gods…”  Genesis 3:5 (Deify Man)

All this, to tempt man to sin in order to destroy himself.  Yet, despite this enemy, we are still responsible for choosing to sin.

The Solution—Trusting Christ

If I really stopped to think about it, I had broken all of the Ten Commandments, leaving me guilty before God. No wonder I felt trapped. Sin was my problem. Sin is rebellion against God and His moral law. I had no one to blame but myself.

I didn’t want to acknowledge my sins. It made me angry every time I saw my sin. Let me share an illustration I’ve heard.

Imagine you’ve just dusted a table. You pull back the curtains to let the sun in and it shines on your freshly cleaned table. What do you see on the table? Dust. In the air? Dust. Did the light create the dust? No, it simply exposed the dust. Our sin is like dust. We don’t see it until God’s light shines on it, but then it’s painful to see.

God was doing all He could to get my attention. I remember calling Mike after deciding not to drive home after drinking with friends into the wee hours.  Despite him not knowing where or what I was doing, he thanked me for calling him and said he would pick me up… it was 3 o’clock in the morning! I almost fell over—and it would have been easy to fall over because I could hardly walk. He was so kind despite having to be to work by 5 a.m. He had every right to be angry with me yet when he picked me up, he chose to be kind.  I sat in his vehicle feeling guilty and sorrowful as he held my hand.  I didn’t deserve his kindness!  I quickly realized my husband was becoming more loving and it had something to do with Jesus.

Not too long after, a friend invited me to a Bible study. Despite being very intimidated, I attended. The women showed genuine concern for me. They prayed for a concern of mine and by the end I was in tears as I was deeply touched. I remembered thinking “These ladies have something I didn’t have.”

I started to realize my choices resulted in a rocky marriage, stress at work and school and an endless pursuit of things. I was overwhelmed and tired of blaming everything on everyone else. One night as I lay in bed, I cried out to God stating something like, “God, if you’re up there, please show me you’re real. I’ve messed up everything. Please help me! I’m yours.”

The next day, I remembered asking Mike if I could go to church with him the following Sunday—and I did.

As the Pastor preached, I realized I didn’t want to sin against God anymore. I was heartbroken. He explained how we all have sinned against God. He explained how God sent His sinless Son, Jesus to shed his blood by suffering and dying in my place to pay the penalty for my sins. The Lord Jesus rose from the dead, defeating death and the devil. He now sits at the right hand of God. When a person repents (turns away from his sin) and trusts in Jesus as Savior and Lord, God will forgive his sins and give him the desire live for God, according to the Bible.

After hearing the sermon, I thought “I believe that.”  Now I had heard about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and always believed it intellectually.  But I had never believed He did this for me personally to set me free from my continual desire and pursuit of sin against God—until that day!  After hearing the gospel message, I turned from my sin and trusted in Christ.  With heads bowed and eyes closed, the Pastor asked anyone who had made that decision to raise his hand. I quietly raised my hand hoping Mike wouldn’t notice because I was admitting he was right about what the Bible said. Oh, my pride! Yet, when we arrived home, I was crying because I was so thankful my sins were forgiven. Mike asked me what was wrong and I told him I got saved. The poor guy didn’t know what to say! Later I learned Mike’s thought was “I’ll believe it when I see it.” I had been a tyrant towards Mike and God for so long . . . even threatening divorce.

After Coming to Christ—Evidence

A little while later while on a trip on Sanibel Island in Florida with family, I found myself wanting to read the Bible. As I read, I actually understood what I read—something that had not happened before (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:13-15).

I started attending a Bible study and began learning about God’s character and commands. I realized I was getting to know the Lord Jesus personally as I read and understood the scriptures. I began to trust the Bible as truth—not just a book of old fashioned, outdated stories.

I learned I became a child of God, created in His image; I was not something that came from a pond as the theory of evolution teaches. Unfortunately, evolution is taught as a fact despite it being a highly problematic theory.  I learned I wasn’t a victim, as psychologists teach, but that I was responsible for my own thoughts and actions.  God could use any situation in my life to help others.

I learned God had given me a new nature through the Holy Spirit. As I read and grew in God’s Word, the Holy Spirit gives me an ever-strengthening desire to love and please God. I learned more about right and wrong and how God gives us the wisdom and strength to resist temptation and sin.

Through God’s leading, I’m a full-time housewife with no children. I’m a keeper of the home; cooking, cleaning, assisting my husband with the finances and desiring to take good care of Mike. And I’m thankful as we celebrate 22 years of marriage in 2015!

I’m very thankful Mike is saved.  I’m thankful he continued to share the Word of God with me before I was saved despite my hard heart.  The Bible says that “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).  Faith does not ultimately come by my thoughts, feelings or experiences—only by the very words of God found the Bible.  Mike and I continually grow closer to Jesus Christ and each other.  Through God’s Word, we’re shown areas where we are sinning, how to deal with the sin, and how to be truly committed to the Lord and one another.

I desire to study the Bible and help other women to grow, memorize Scripture and pray, as well as to learn from other women.  Sharing God’s plan of salvation to the lost is one of my main desires. Oh, how I pray for boldness.

I avoid TV, radio, magazines, books and worldly things on the Internet which influence me towards sin in the areas of coveting, desiring material things, and tempting me to sin in other areas. Thrift shops are my favorite places to buy clothes. I don’t demand fancy restaurants or vacations to bring me pleasure anymore. The desire to lie, to be full of strife and malice doesn’t rule any longer.  Blaming others has been replaced with taking responsibility for my thoughts and actions. Drunkenness and lust have also been done away with.  My continual anger toward God’s holy ways has been replaced with a new respect and desire to please Him through the Holy Spirit that now dwells in me.

I remember the first time I heard the hymn, “Amazing Grace” after I got saved. It was the first time I actually understood what the song meant.  I used to think the song was so sad but now it was my story in a nut shell.  Oh, what a glorious song…

“Amazing grace! how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me!  I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see. ’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear. The hour I first believed!”

Do I still sin? Yes. My old sinful nature still remains within me. Yet God promises: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).  God has given me the desire not to continually practice sin. I desire to live a life holy and pleasing before the Lord. Only God could make such changes in a wretch like me.  That is Amazing Grace!

Do I still have struggles and temptations?  Yes.  God says we will have trials and tribulations in this life but those who trust all of God”s words are promised His wisdom to lead them if they seek it, as well as eternal hope after physical death.

My joy and hope comes from knowing my sins are forgiven, a place has been prepared for me in Heaven, and God’s Word will provide me wisdom and understanding while I’m still here on earth. I’m no longer held captive by sin and its consequences of eternal Hell. I no longer hate God.  Knowing God’s will and His ways, through the Bible, is more important than owning and doing things that won’t matter in a 100 years. After all when I die, the hearse won’t have a moving van behind it.

Moral Law

Remember how I thought I was a good person . . . even though I was a tyrant toward Mike and hated the ways of God? Many think the same way without even realizing it.

Remember the Ten Commandments, God’s perfect and holy standard? Compared to Hilter, we’re good; compared to God’s perfect, holy standard, we’re sinful.

When God judges you by the Ten Commandments (His perfect Holy Standard) on Judgment Day, do you think you will be innocent or guilty of breaking even one of the 10 Commandments?

The Bible says “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). It also says that “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

Romans 5:12 states: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men; for that all have sinned.”

If you recognize your guilt, can you see the predicament? You and I are guilty of sinning against God Himself. Does the fact you have sinned against God frighten you?

Perhaps you think God is good and because of his goodness, He will overlook your sins.

But if you knew of a human judge who turned a blind eye to the crimes of a guilty murderer, would you describe him as a “good” judge? No. That would be a corrupt Judge.

God could never be a corrupt judge. He will punish all who have sinned. This includes you and me. It only takes one lie to make someone a liar, one theft to make someone a thief.

Grace

The Bible says: “The wages of sin is death (eternal separation from God in hell), but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

God does not want you or me to spend eternity in hell. He is rich in mercy and compassion, and has provided a way for you to be forgiven. He has invited you to come to Him for a full pardon of your sins and receive the free gift of Eternal Life. You cannot earn it, and you do not deserve it, but God is offering it to you as proof of His love for you.

The Bible says the eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ, who from eternity was equal to the Father and the Holy Spirit, became a Man and suffered and died on the cross for your sins and mine so we could be set free from the bondage of sin and death. It’s as simple as this—we broke the Law, and Jesus paid our penalty and took our punishment.

The Bible says: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

You can receive the payment Christ made for your sins by repentant faith.  You cannot earn salvation, for the Bible says: “For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Do you see God’s great love for you? Do you see your need for His forgiveness? Do what He commands in the Bible: “Repent . . . and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19). You must turn away from your sins and turn to God. Jesus died and shed His blood to save you from the penalty of sin and free you from sin’s power, and then he rose from the grave to be your Lord. Christ said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

Today, with all your heart, turn away from your life of sin and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ alone to forgive and cleanse you. You will become a follower of Jesus Christ.  Please don’t put it off till later.  Later may never come. The Bible says: “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

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By | 2016-11-25T14:32:33+00:00 June 28th, 2015|Salvation, Testimonies|

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Thomas Ross