A Pastor’s Testimony
by Jeff Black
Words cannot describe the way that I felt. I was tired of trying, tired of doing, and tired of being a believer. I was saved at the age of 19, baptized immediately, and put to work in just a few weeks teaching teenagers. Only by God’s grace did things get accomplished. I was new and green, and the church I was attending at that time was in need of a youth leader. I had energy and all kinds of ideas, and they were happy and relieved to turn it over to me. In those two, short years, my wife (girlfriend at the time) and I became workers with a great desire to do whatever was necessary to make sure all were pleased; and most importantly, we wanted our Lord to be pleased.
After my wife, Tonja, and I were married, we moved from that church to the present one; and we never skipped a beat. When the Pastor found out that I loved teenagers and had worked with them for two years, he asked me to consider working with them. Being the person that I was, needing to feel important and needing the security that I got from pleasing others, I accepted. At this time, I was working construction, going to Bible College, and looking to start a new work for God. This was the beginning of a long, grueling journey to try to please God so I could have the security that I desired.
As a child I was always insecure. I had a fear of not being accepted; and, as a result, I felt rejected a lot. Although my parents were good parents, and they loved me very much, I was still insecure. As a result of that fear, I tried to work hard to please all who asked something of me. Surely if I produced for enough people, someone would accept me. I continued on with my job, school, and working with the teens; but still there was an empty spot inside of me. So being the good, fundamentalist that I was, (and that I was expected to be), I started working every week in the junior churches. Right after that God called me to preach.
Now the pressure was on to its fullest extent, or so I thought. One day at work, I got a phone call; and my wife said, “Hi Daddy.” Now what was I going to do? The construction job was starting to play out; doing the work at church was really stressing me; God was calling me, and now I was going to be a daddy. I did the only thing that I knew to do—run from the calling of God, bow my neck and try working harder for Him; surely He would bless me with all of my good effort. The blessing that I was looking for did not come.
I could not understand why the Bible promised me joy and peace, and I could not find it. I knew that God did not lie and that His Word was true; so, obviously the problem was that I was not doing something right and He was not satisfied, so I took on more responsibilities in the church. I did this for 15 years; and believe me, it didn’t get any better. As a matter of fact, it got worse. I felt worse as a believer than I did as a lost person! I started dreading going to church, working in the different ministries and even sometimes questioned whether or not I was truly saved. I read and read the Bible, prayed and prayed for relief; and I could not find any. God seemed like He was a million miles away. I was just sick and tired of trying to please Him. I knew that I couldn’t please my own self. That is why I was trying to please others, but day after day of trying to please God and getting no results or comfort in my soul finally got to me. I just wanted someone, especially God, to be pleased with me; and I could not get the desired results.
I did not understand that God was guiding me to come to Him in surrender. Luke 20:17,19: “And he beheld them, and said, ‘What is this then that is written; The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.’” Finally (and I praise God for it) after 15 years of trying to be somebody for people to be pleased with, I gave up. I was working for a candy company at this time. I was driving from one city to another, miserable as anyone I have ever known, when I came face-to-face with Christ and His Cross. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I pulled off to the side of the road and threw up my hands and prayed this prayer. “God, I am tired; and I am giving up. I can’t do this any longer. I don’t care what you do with me; even take my life if you want to. You can have my wife, my children, my job, my church, my ministries, my health and my wealth. You can even send me to the middle of Africa; I just can’t live under this any longer.”
For the first time in my adult Christian walk I understood what it meant to surrender to what He accomplished for us at the Cross. A burden was lifted off of me and I felt joy. It was almost like I had been saved all over again (in a way I was because I was saved from myself). I did not understand everything that happened to me at that time. I had a lot of unlearning to do. There were, and still are, times when I have to surrender (“die”) daily. I now understand that I am secure in the life that I have which is Christ’s. He is my life and I realize that the old man in Adam that I was trying to satisfy was crucified with Him. Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” I was raised to walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4: “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” I can rest now because He is life, my life. Colossians 3:4: “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
My friends, take a long look at the Cross of Christ; and you will see that He set you free to walk with Him in your new life. No performance is necessary any longer; He took care of it all. My security is in Him; my worth is in Him, and my future is in Him. I don’t have to try to gain acceptance with God any longer through my trying. He is pleased with me already. Why? The answer is because I am in His Son and have His life. All is well within my soul.
Jeff Black serves as lead pastor of First Baptist Church of Proctorville, Ohio.