(To Which I'm Eternally Grateful For!

By: Noel Van Biljon

I was raised in a household that did not give God his rightful place. As a result of this I found myself, at the age of 35, going about my business without a knowledge of the Bible and its message, nor did I have any desire to know.

I was ignorant; I neither believed or disbelieved and I was content in my ignorance.

What I am about to relate is a sequence of events in which the Lord revealed Himself to me in what I can only describe as a supernatural way. As the events unfolded, I was not aware of their significance at the time, but in hindsight, I was able to comprehend Gods saving grace at work in me. As I recall and relate this miracle I cannot restrain myself from expressing a profound thankfulness for Gods mercy and grace.

So at this period in my life (age 35) I was employed by Iscor Newcastle as an apprentice electrician-- they had a scheme whereby they trained what they called major apprentices in the trade. Up 'till then I had no formal qualification and consequently seized the opportunity to better myself.

During the third year of my apprenticeship I came to realize that I was drinking alcohol excessively and I could not understand why. I had everything going for me, a good future, soon to be qualified in my trade.  I was not unhappy, life was good. So I consulted my doctor and explained my situation to him. He in turn referred me to a psychiatrist in Pietermaritzburg.

After consulting him I was hospitalized for a week in St Anne's hospital where I was subjected to what he termed shock therapy. In the course of that week I was given a small wallet sized Bible. I accepted it without comment but I never did read it. Again in hindsight I knew without a shadow of a doubt that this young lady was instrumental in my salvation.  I believe she was an intercessor on my behalf.

So I returned to Newcastle and to work, but this time without alcohol.

About two weeks later I returned to the hostel one night after visiting my girlfriend Mary. I occupied a single room with a shower. I retired to bed and I was lying spread eagled on my back with my arms and legs outstretched. I experienced a severe headache. This was strange to me in that I had previously never suffered from headaches and certainly not one so severe. As I lay there I felt the headache dissipate and flow out of my arms and legs and my fingers and toes; it drained out of me. Once again I experienced a severe headache and as it too drained out of me I immediately received this powerful thought in my mind-- this is God doing this to me.

With this realization I felt unclean in my body and I got up and showered. This action was significant in that man feels unclean (unworthy) in the holy presence of God.

Now consider, this was now about midnight and I was excited. For some reason I thought that this had also happened to Mary, and so I got dressed and drove to her parents flat to share this happening, but when I got there I saw all the lights were off, so I drove back to the hotel and went to sleep.

The next morning when I got up I simply could not contain myself.  I kept on babbling, "Jesus-- Jesus--Jesus." I could not and did not restrain myself. I was not in control. The guys in the hotel did not know what to make of this. They knew me, and this was not the me they knew. I was confessing a Jesus that I had never previously acknowledged.

It was a Saturday so I drove back to Mary's flat. When her mother (she was a Catholic) saw what had happened to me, she burst into tears. I was surprised and asked her if she did not experience the same thing. She said, "No."

Mary and I drove out to Chelmsford dam and parked there and watched the bird life. While we were sitting there I began to confess all of my most private and innermost perversions and filth and sins that was stored in my mind. It was spontaneous and I did not rein myself in.  I let it happen. Mary was witness to this cleansing.  I was not in control.

Following this confession I experienced a feeling of wellbeing that I cannot explain in words, except to describe it as exquisite. It only lasted a few seconds. In hindsight it was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I believe I was given a taste of heaven, of the future glory that God has prepared for us that Love him.(but I am getting way ahead of myself). And as an aside, if I was ever to speak in tongues this would have been my defining moment.

The scripture comes to mind: "I was found by those who were not looking for me." (Isaiah 65:1).

Three days later I was sitting in my car waiting for Mary when God spoke to me as clearly as two people speak to each other. These words were directed straight into my mind, "Go out and tell others what I have done for you".

I was really taken aback - not by the fact that God had communicated directly with me; that seemed so completely normal to me - but the fact that I did not know Him.  I replied, saying, " I can't do that, I don't know You".

Again in hindsight, after being so very honoured and blessed with such a wonderful revelation from God and admitting that I did not know Him, I asked myself, Why did I not seek Him out?. Why did I not approach His church to reveal Him to me, or why did I not open the Bible and so get to know Him?. I could not answer that at the time save to say that I did not. I was so totally unaware of who and what God was. Again, in hindsight, I put it down to the fact that it was not yet my appointed time. (See: Ecclesiastes 3:2).

And so I continued on with my life.

Over the next ten years I got married to Mary and we had a boy child. I was an artisan.  We had a reasonable standard of living.  I was also drinking again and I was living without reverence for God. So as a direct result of my way of living my marriage was doomed. And so it transpired.

Mary divorced me and I was separated from my child. It was not long after this that I finally broke down and conceded that I cannot live this way. My life was a total disaster.  I was crushed and so too my pride (See: Proverbs 16:18). I was brought to a state of brokenness by God. I was now made ready to receive truth.

For the following three years I became totally isolated from the world. I lived on a small holding north of Pretoria which belonged to a pastor named Mark Barker. I sold my car and tools to further isolate myself from society. Mark presented me with a Bible and it was only then that I became exposed to Gods means of salvation, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

I spent my days working on the small holding and my nights and weekends with the Word. Mark was my mentor and under his guidance I confessed my sins and repented and was baptised in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

My life was transformed. The Bible message opened up a completely new life to me. I was ecstatic. I received a peace and joy previously unknown to me. I devoured the written word; I could not put it down. And it was not as if I studied the word, it was burned into my heart. God made me willing and enabled me. (See: Philippians 2:13). I was experiencing my first love.

So after three years of isolation, equipped with "salvation", I was now ready to return to society.

Back in the world I found over a period of time that I was absorbed back into the cares of the world. I was once again still conformed to the standards of the world. (See: Romans 12:2). I was a carnal Christian with one foot in the Kingdom and one foot in the world. This was not Christianity. There was a vital ingredient missing. I had no power to say no to sin and I was unaware of how to rectify this situation, nor was it in my power to rectify it. This required an act of God to enable me, failing that I was destined for hell.

And this is how God's providence graciously rescued me. I was informed of the death of a childhood friend of mine. We had grown up together through adolescence, so we were close friends. He had a special place in my heart. My reaction to the news of his passing away was to purchase a bottle of whiskey and to have a "wake" in remembrance of him. I even managed to shed a tear for him.

Now a day or two later I got to thinking about whether he was saved or not (I had no contact with him in later years so I did not know). While I was thinking this I was struck by a powerful conviction that I was not saved and I was on my way to hell. I was devastated. I knew that without a doubt, because of my sinful state I was going to hell, and not only that, there was nothing I could do about it. It was done and dusted, it was over. I had acknowledged God and yet continued to live in sin. I was in utter despair, without hope. I cannot describe the darkness of that time, and it continued for several weeks.

Jesus said, "I will send you another helper and He will convict you of sin and righteousness and the judgment to come". (John 16:8).

I finally saw myself as God sees me, a sinner. I came to understand what sin is. Isaiah 6:1-5 comes to mind when he had a revelation of God on His throne. He cries out "woe is me" and so it was with me.

I pleaded for mercy -- I begged for forgiveness.  I repented in sack cloth and ashes, spiritually speaking. I beseeched God to rescue me. I was desperately in need of a Savior and pleaded the blood of Jesus to cover my sins past, present and future.

I had finally repented with a gospel repentance, not with a head knowledge of sin, but with a heart knowledge of sin. And Jesus said, "I will not turn away any that come to me". (John 6:37).

I have now received a divine power where I am enabled to say no to sin and yes to Jesus. I finally closed with my Savior, my Jesus.

And so I can truthfully conclude, both by way of scripture and my experience in what God has done for me. He has given me a priceless gift by means of His mercy and grace, and that salvation is of the Lord.  (See: Jonah 2:9). He makes you willing and able.  (See: Philippians 2:13).

And so with Thomas I can say, "My Lord and my God" ... and with Peter, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God". And to Him alone belongs the glory. Amen.


Dear Reader - are you at peace with God?  If not, you can be.  Do you know what awaits you when you die?  You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain.  Either Jesus Christ died for yours sins, or He didn't (He did!).  Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God?  We plead with you ... please don't make such a tragic mistake.

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