Rochelle

When I was a little girl, I used to get these big, beautiful chocolate Easter eggs for Easter. They looked so pretty with their pink candy roses, yellow flowers, and green leaves. But one thing always disappointed me — they were hollow. They looked gorgeous, but they were empty inside.

Well, as I look back over my life, it reminds me of that hollow chocolate Easter egg. In many ways, my life looked pretty good. I got good grades in high school and college; I was organist for my church; I studied dancing and performed in amateur shows; I had friends and even a steady boyfriend.

But in spite of all this, I was empty inside. I had very little self-confidence, no set values, and no sense of purpose in my life. My self-concept was totally based on what I achieved and what would “look good” to others. I thought my friends would like me as long as I went along with their opinions, so I never developed my own values. I was headed towards the “American Dream” of a career and a husband, but I didn’t see real fulfillment in that kind of life. Still, I thought I was happy and just ignored the emptiness in my life.

While I was in college, I was attracted to a group of girls in my dorm who had something different about them. They had a love for God that seemed unique to me — even though I had always believed in God and had gone to church. I considered going to their Christian fellowship meeting, but somehow, I never did.

In my Junior year, I had the opportunity to study in Spain. There I was away from the group of friends I had depended on. I became close friends with a girl who reminded me of the Christian girls from my dorm. She too had a love for God and for others that amazed me. She constantly put helping others before her own responsibilities — not in order to be liked by them, but just to show she cared. She told me she had a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. She explained that Jesus loved me so much that He had died for me and that He wanted to give me an abundant life. All I had to do to experience His love was to ask Him into my life. I realized I needed Christ and I prayed and asked Him in.

Since Christ came into my heart, He has begun to fill up the emptiness I felt inside. I know that I no longer have to achieve in order to gain love because Jesus totally loves and accepts me just the way I am. As I’ve gotten to know God better, I’ve learned that He has given me values to live by in the Bible. I know His Word is true and now I have a basis for my own convictions. Also, I’ve learned that God has a special plan for my life. This plan includes loving Him and helping others come to know Him.

Jesus has shown me that the truly beautiful life is not one that just looks beautiful on the outside, but one that is filled up with the love of God on the inside. A favorite verse of mine is Eph. 3:19 which says “knowing the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, you may be filled up to the fullness of God.” Jesus continually fills up my life and I am secure in Him.

Steve

When I was a young child, I was afraid of death. I used to have dreams of dying, and I would wake up crying, “I don’t want to die!” My mother would come in then, and tell me, “It’s alright, honey. Even if you die, you’ll go to heaven. It’s okay.” And with other comforting words she would settle me down, and I would go to sleep. But it still worried me.

Later, when I was 10, my parents got divorced. When I was 12, my mom moved us to Colorado, and we began attending a Methodist church. Going to church was a normal part of our lives, and though I memorized the books of the Bible and learned all the Bible stories, I just thought of this as one part of life. Mom was working to provide for the family, but that meant she didn’t have much time for us, and was often tired. I often felt lonely and that I just wanted to be loved. I tried hard to please my Mom by working hard in school. Since I did very well in school other kids rejected me. My personality was one where I typically had just one friend at a time, and focused all my attention on them.

Once, I began to think about the ultimate questions. Why am I here? Will anyone ever really love me as I am, rather than for what I do or what I can be? Why does it matter since everyone dies anyway? And I thought about suicide, though I probably didn’t have the guts to go through with it.

Then one day our church youth group went to see a Billy Graham film called “A Time to Run.” In it a young man experienced some struggles with his parents. He was really looking for meaning and purpose in his life, and a friend helps him find it in a relationship with Jesus Christ. I had never heard anything like that, but it really spoke to me, so I talked with one of the men showing the film. He told me how God had sent his Son, Jesus, to die in my place on the cross for my sins, and I could ask him to forgive my sins and come into my heart and begin a relationship with Him. So I prayed and asked Jesus to do that for me.

Though nothing spectacular seemed to happen right away, for the next six months I was really overwhelmed with a sense of God’s love for me, his acceptance of me. His love is not based on my performance, or how good or bad I am. He simply loves me because I have become His child through believing in Jesus Christ. At first I sometimes felt insecure, but I soon learned that Jesus had promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

This great love really set me free to love and care about other people, and I began to have more friends at school, and to be more concerned about others. Jesus gave me a reason to live! And I began to find reading the Bible very meaningful, because now God was speaking to me through it! His Word says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life…nor anything in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39.

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