CONVINCED I WAS A
(The Michael Fackerell Story)
By: Michael Fackerell
Many people have amazing dramatic testimonies. Its true - some people get off drugs miraculously and quickly become the most radiant, wonderful joyful people so quickly that you can wonder: "God, what about the rest of us?" I am one person who had a gradual conversion experience. Later there were moments of profound spiritual experiences with God, but initially, I was very stubborn and it took God a long time to get me to be willing to change.
I grew up in a Christian family. I was baptized as a baby in the Dutch Reformed church. Dad would always read a portion of the Bible after the evening meal and we learned to pray before meals. As a result, I grew up with lots of knowledge of the Bible. I thought I was a Christian because I believed the Bible was God's Word and that Jesus died for me. However, Jesus was not really the Lord of my life. I did not really know him at all, though I knew all about him. Although I believed totally in the existence of God, I'd have to acknowledge that, for the most part, during my childhood and adolescent years, I never experienced or knew God personally.
It's easy to be religious without knowing God. I'm sure there are still many people like that today. I wasn't only religious though. I was proud. Very proud. This pride made me obnoxious to others and as a result I suffered from lots of rejection as a grew up. I felt the pain of this intensely for many years. However, I seemed powerless to change myself, nor did I really want to. Instead, I resolved to prove my worth and significance by academic achievement. It mattered a lot to me to prove I was smarter than everyone else. I couldn't stand to lose even a game of chess. I used to cry when that happened or when my classmates mocked me. This only made matters worse. The result was that I was very miserable. My belief in the doctrines of the Bible did not seem to help me.
Hyper-sensitivity was not my only problem. I was also extremely critical of others, negative and unpleasant to be with. I'm not saying I am perfect or wonderful now, but I can say that Jesus has made a big difference to my personality. For many years though, I rejected Jesus also. I did this because I desperately wanted to be in charge of my own life. I was happy for Jesus to be my Savior, but not my Lord. I wanted to go my own way and somehow prove that I was great. My motives for acknowledging Christianity had more to do with a desire to be right even if others were wrong. I didn't care about others at all, but due to the influence of my parents I did have some moral principles which I generally stood by, though not perfectly. One of these was honesty. In the end, it was the love for the truth which God put in me which helped me to humble myself and receive God's love into my life. It didn't happen instantly. It was a process.
In the Anglican church in which I grew up, it was very commonplace to do Bible studies. I was very proud of my ability to know the stories and have an opinion on everything. I grew up with the feeling that I had the right religion and that I was better than other people. I was so proud of my academic results at school also. I looked down on others and had little regard for their feelings. As a result I failed to develop socially.
As I entered into adolescence I had a hyper-active mind. It was constantly thinking and planning according to the thought "What's in it for me?" It was constantly seeking to inform me of things to feed my pride. My grandmother said to me a few years ago, "Michael, when you were growing up, you were a ball of pride."
At the same time I was convinced that I was a Christian. I knew I had sins and was basically selfish, but I had confidence that I was saved because I mentally assented to the idea that Jesus Christ died in my place. I convinced myself that I had God's forgiveness even though I was still living for myself. There were times, however, when certain people made me uneasy, because of their obvious joy in serving God. There was something about certain people that made me very uncomfortable with myself. I now know that was the conviction of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, when he first comes to us, makes us realize that God is good and we are rotten sinners. During times when this was happening to me, I was always waiting for an escape so I could get back to enjoying my various hobbies and avaricious pursuits.
After finishing high school, I went to University determining to be a great computer scientist. I was already passionate about computers. I'd written my first commercial game program at 14 in 1980 and I know now that the love of computers (which were essentially tools to praise me and my cleverness) was a major form of idolatry in my life. But I was sure I was a Christian! I had felt sorry about some of my sins and had even asked Jesus into my heart! I was doing what others in church were doing! I could discuss theology with the best of them! I was outwardly moral, principled etc. - but utterly self-centered.
The one thing I was most uncomfortable with in those days was telling others about Jesus. Being socially backwards and with lots of acne on my face, it was not something I wanted to do. I felt uncomfortable with strangers.
But there came a day when a young ethnic Chinese man from Campus Crusade for Christ gave me a call on the phone and invited me to meet with him. I don't know why I agreed, but I did. Over the next few months with this man, my life began to change. He helped me to start telling the good news about Jesus to others. Doesn't the Scripture say that if we keep on confessing Christ as Lord and believe God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved? Strange as it may seem, it was at this point that I believe I truly surrendered my heart to God. For I had surrendered to Christ the thing I was most unwilling to do for God. And I think until we come to that point, we still have not received Christ as Lord. Until that point, we do not really belong to Christ. I didn't know that Jesus had to be Lord in my life before I could be really part of his spiritual kingdom and receive the forgiveness of sins I needed.
One of the surprising things for me was the joy I found in doing the thing I was most fearful of - to talk with others about Christ. What I found was, Christ became real to me as I went in His name. Before that, I knew lots of Bible and had done some things for God (I thought), but I was still miserable. However, taking these first steps in living for God released a joy and a happiness in me that I was not expecting.
The Bible says that the Kingdom of God is "righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit". There is a surprising joy that comes when you give your life to God. That's my experience.
At that stage I was still going to the Anglican church. No one explained to me the importance of being baptized in water as a believer. But I had begun my walk with Jesus - even though there was still plenty of things God needed to change in me. It was later that God brought me to the point of understanding that I should follow the example of the Lord Jesus in baptism.
Since the time I really began to go after God, I've been changed in many ways. I'm learning to think of others more. I really enjoy God's presence and I've learned to humble myself so that God can use me.
There is no way to be at peace with God if you are inwardly rebelling against his desire to govern your life. The only way to be in the Kingdom of Heaven is for Jesus to be your King!
If you would like to contact Michael Fackerell, you can reach him at this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org or he has his own personal website at http://www.christian-faith.com.
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