Theology & Worldview

A Ketchup Bottle and the Book of Romans

This year, I’ve had the privilege of writing about a number of apologetics topics. I love the objective logic that backs up the Bible’s claims, but for my last article, I want to share a little of what God has done in my life with you.

My parents are both Christians so I’ve gone to church and known Bible stories for as long as I can remember. When I was little, I loved receiving approval from people and spent a lot of time trying to appear morally good. I also fell into the trap of judging others and considering myself a much better person than everyone else. Not until I was eight years old did this self-righteous attitude get seriously questioned. Multiple times during my childhood, I stole toys from the church nursery, houses, even from my friends. When I was eight, the church we attended at the time was having a sermon series on Romans. I don’t remember what verses specifically convicted me, but given that Romans plainly declares “all have sinned” and “the wages of sin is death,” it is not surprising that I was miserable at church (Romans 3:23; 6:23, English Standard Version). I knew I was headed for Hell, but could not solve this ever-important problem. I kept quiet about it, my mind spinning in circles most of the time and my stomach churning to match. For several months I tried to figure out how to fix my broken relationship with God, and felt that I could not face my friends with the truth that I had stolen their doll. I was miserable, and understood how David felt when he wrote, “when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long,” (Psalm 32:3, ESV). My mom eventually found out about the doll, and I had to confess to my friends. They were amazingly compassionate and forgave me, which was a huge relief. Yet, I still knew I had unfinished business with God, and could not get rid of this remaining uneasiness.

One night at dinner, my younger brother asked how we can be saved, and my dad answered by telling us to trust in Jesus’ sacrifice alone, a response that shocked me. So I followed him out of the room when he went to put the ketchup away. I asked my dad if I needed to pray anything specific, like ‘forgive me of my sins.’ His explanation was that by asking for forgiveness, we are trusting him. Everything clicked for me. I went to my room and just asked God to forgive me. That very night, I changed. For the first time ever, I felt completely at peace. I knew that even though I had sinned, God had forgiven me, and because of that, I would go to Heaven (Romans 5:9; John 3:16). Even though I deserved eternal death, Jesus had taken my place, and I knew I was free from my sin. All the turmoil, fear of death, and confusion had been replaced with peace and hope. As a cherry on top, my stomach stopped feeling sick, which meant I could once again enjoy the ice cream we had that night.
This seemingly perfect bliss did not last long. Shortly after this, I started to feel hopeless again because, post-conversion, I sinned. I wondered if I was still a Christian. But thankfully, while there is never a good excuse for sin, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9, ESV). At the time, I tried to pray the right words over and over again to make sure I was a Christian. I understand now that since “we have been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God,” (Romans 5:9, ESV). All my hope comes from Jesus- his deity, his perfect life as a human, finished work on the cross, resurrection, and love for me.

It’s not about me saying the right words or being a worthy Christian, it’s all about Jesus.

After God gave me relief from so much guilt and inner turmoil, it would seem natural that I would have eagerly sought to know God more. Sadly, I did not seek God for several years after He pulled me out of despair. I had a “I’m saved, good to go!” attitude. Thankfully, although I was content with where I was, God was not. With encouragement from my mom, I started reading the Bible more. I also started praying and thinking about God and the gospel at night. It became a habit to rehearse the gospel: God created everything (Genesis 1:1), but I had the nerve to rebel against my creator and therefore deserve death (Romans 3:23; 6:23), “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved,” (Ephesians 2:4-5, ESV). I began to understand a little of God’s love for me, and to love him back. Unfortunately, I gave up the habit when I started doubting salvation could be the result of faith alone. Once again, I started feeling hopeless, and once again, God helped me see the truth.

This school year, I’m taking the TPS Bible Survey class. Both semesters, I got to dive deep into one passage and write a paper about it. Last semester, I studied Colossians One, and was amazed that somehow this passage speaks to me. This chapter proclaims that Jesus is God, and in him, “all things hold together,” (Colossians 1:17, ESV). Because of him, I am called to rejoice, and everything about my life should be changed. This passage shows how Paul cares for fellow believers and rejoices in sharing the good news with others. Last semester, I was asking myself why I was even still on earth, and though I did not anticipate it, this passage answered my deepest questions. This semester, I studied Isaiah 43, which challenged my long standing sinful habits of being fearful and not seeking after God. It had been amazing to see how God’s word applies to me, and I’m excited to keep studying! In short, I learned was that I need to grow, and not be content with my current spiritual state, a school year well spent.

My life since becoming a Christian has been seven years of God proving his patience with me. Even when I did not even want a deeper relationship with God, He still has always been there, pulling me closer. I still have deep struggles, but He will be faithful. I’m so thankful that He has never given up on me, and hold to the promise “that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ,” (Philippians 1:6, ESV).

Works Cited:
The Bible. English Standard Version, 2011 ed., Crossway, 2001.
Image Credit: Artem Sapegin on Unsplash.com

15 Comments

  1. That’s so beautiful Janae! Thank you for sharing your testimony!

  2. Great job, Janae, as always!

    • Aww, Lydia, I can’t thank you enough for all of your encouraging comments!! Thank you so much for taking time to read and being so supportive!!!!!

  3. Elizabeth Nelson

    This is great! Thank you for encouraging me! I struggle with some of the same things like doubting my salvation though I went further and even though I became a Christian I still tried to be and “perfect.” I still really am struggling with that.

    • Aww, Elizabeth, thanks so much!!!! It means so much to know that this encouraged you! Yeah, I so often get focused on what I should/n’t be doing that I totally lose sight of the one person I need to focus on: Jesus. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:2-3, NIV. That verse really strikes deep for me, because I struggle so much with that…

  4. that was so beautiful janae 😭 thank you so much for taking the time to share your testimony <3 you've done such a good job writing this year and i'm definitely going to miss reading your articles and working with you on clay ;-;;

    • Hope… where do I start?? First off, thanks for your support, whether it was via encouraging notes, or helping me calm down enough to think rationally, or figuring out how to upload my first article. 😂 I’m not sure how I would have survived clay without you. I’m so glad we got to work together and it’s been great to get to know you!! Your cooking articles were always amazing, because of the mouthwatering content and pictures, and your thorough explanations. And I loved how you included the reason for certain steps. I’m going to miss working with you, also! Thanks for making this year awesome. Also, thanks for reading this one! I’m super glad I got to share this!

  5. the null hypothesis

    that is a really kool testimony

    i have been more and more often just realizing that God is with us in this walk and He has never and will never abandon us.

  6. Janae, thank you for sharing your story and proclaiming His amazing grace!

  7. Elizabeth Nelson

    Love you Janae and thanks for the verse!

  8. Hadleigh Gleeson

    This is such a well-written and encouraging article Janae!! Thanks so much and great job this year!

    • Aww, thank you so much, Hadleigh!! It’s been fun being in clay with you! You did awesome with your column!!