New Horizons

My Testimony

Karen Harris Keating

I was raised in a loving Christian home and brought up in an Orthodox Presbyterian church. At age fifteen, I began to rebel against my parents, and for many years I continued down that path. I became involved in drugs and immorality, and even ended up in jail.

Eight years ago, I began attending church again, and was even accepted as a member, but I had never truly had a change of heart. I just went through the motions—church attendance, Bible reading, prayer—but only because I felt these things were expected of me. I did not understand God's grace or salvation through Jesus Christ.

A few months after my marriage, I gave up church and returned to my rebellious ways. This time things got much worse. I became more heavily involved in drugs, and, as a result, I became a drug addict. As a result of my drug addiction and immoral behavior, I was separated from my husband and children. My parents spoke to me about the consequences of my sin every chance they got, but I foolishly had no desire to change and therefore I did not listen.

About two years ago, I received letters from my pastor and the elders of my church calling me to repentance and stating the consequence of my sin. Again, I refused to listen. In fact, I became so angry that I vowed never to set foot in that church again!

About a year later, I was once again in jail, and this time I had to stay a while. During that time, I was free from the influence of drugs for the first time in many years. As the fog in my brain began to clear, I suddenly realized where I was. My family was gone, and I had no friends. I was a hopeless drug addict with nothing, and there I sat in jail.

At my pastor's suggestion, my parents sent me a sermon by Jonathan Edwards called "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." For the first time in a long time, I actually sat down and read something that had "God" in the title! Then it hit me—I am a sinner! God hates sin! I'm going to hell! That was a scary thought. I decided I'd better do something to change my life, though I still had not given my life to Christ.

Once released from jail, I was back on the streets and back on drugs. But I soon realized that I had headed straight back to the very things I wanted to stay away from. I decided to quit doing drugs completely, but as I was trying to quit by myself, I had quite a few slips.

Last February, I was still fighting my battle with drugs and immoral behavior, and I realized I hadn't gotten anywhere on my own. I had been pursuing two main goals: to get off drugs for good, and to be reconciled to and reunited with my husband and children. But I was no closer to achieving those goals than when I started. I saw where I wanted to be, but I couldn't seem to get there.

One night, when everything seemed hopeless, I sat down and reflected back on my life. What a mess I had made of things! If only God could help me! But I thought I was too far gone even for God's help.

Then I remembered my mom telling me during one of our recent conversations that nothing is too hard for the Lord. Did that mean that I was not a lost cause after all?

Well, I had tried to change on my own, with no results to speak of. I knew I truly wanted to change, and I cried out to God right then and there to please help me—because, obviously, I was helpless.

That very night things began to change. Within hours I was back at home with my parents—and happy about it! (I had avoided them for years.) Next, I began attending church again, and I found myself really listening and understanding the Word. I also started attending God's Way Out, a Christian program for drug addiction, and I've found that God's way is the only way that works.

I am now free of drugs, and I thank God for each and every day of sobriety. My husband and I have been reconciled, and I have been reunited with my family. I never thought that that could happen, but, as you can see, nothing is too hard for the Lord!

The Lord has done a work of grace in my heart. I have repented of my sins, and given my life to him completely. I feel like all of a sudden I can see something that was hidden from me—like the Lord has revealed a beautiful secret to me, and I wonder why I never saw it before. I now see the beauty of Jesus Christ and the gift of salvation. I understand that I am now justified through the blood of Christ, and that I am being sanctified and made holy.

I thank the people in my church for praying for me through the years. I thank my family for never giving up on me. I thank my pastor and elders for their help and spiritual guidance. But, most of all, I thank God for bringing me out of darkness and allowing me to see his truth (Ps. 56:13; Ps. 66:16-20).

Mrs. Keating is a member of Grace OPC in Modesto, Calif. Reprinted from New Horizons, October 1996.

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