Testimony ~ Jen O’Sullivan

jenosullivan_20130629_0005_webI was brought up in the church, taught to love God, love Jesus, obey his commands, and to be involved in church. I knew the bible (or thought I did) inside and out however I was holding God hostage with my own belief system. I was picking and choosing what worked best for me at any given moment rather than trusting that his Word, ALL of his Word, was 100% right regardless of what I thought. Even so, I was forgiven. I was His. Once saved, always saved, right? Or was I?

Regarding the confusion surrounding my salvation, my pastor, Dr. Mike Fabarez put it this way:

“Part of the mystery of our conversion has to be understood in light of John 1:13 (children of God… “who were born, not of blood nor the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God”). Often the head-scratcher of why when we “followed the formula” or “took the steps” or “chose to give my life to him” we didn’t seem to actually become a genuine Christian is found in the fact that our conversion is a act, work, and decision of God, not ourselves. Often we see people in the Gospels come to Christ and seemingly say “all the right things” but then Christ reveals the fact (in one way or another) that they are not there. We tend to see Christ as a slave to our “answer” to him as though he were on bended knee proposing to us and if we “say the right things” (i.e., “I do” / “I will” / “I’m yours”), then he HAS TO respond by saying, “Great, we’re getting married!” But the conversion of a individual is not so simplistic, though admittedly certainly passages give that impression. The overall picture in Scripture is different. Conversion to Christ is a sovereign work of God that takes place when he chooses, not when we “decide” to follow him. Though, granted, when we are converted we do respond with a genuine, whole-hearted “I will follow you.” I know there is some mystery in this, but the reductionists who want to make conversion formulaic, don’t take into account all that God has said about salvation when they do so.”

At the time, I knew I loved Jesus, loved the church, and loved everything it taught but that was just it. I didn’t actually have the Spirit of God in me. I was not truly saved as I had thought I was. I made a decision to be a Christian the summer before my ninth grade year. I “did the walk” to the front and “prayed the prayer” during one of the calls for salvation. I felt emotional. Overjoyed. I felt I had weighed the facts and knew what I was doing. I was caught up in the moment and loved everything I was hearing. For the following 25 years of my life I did everything you would expect from a Christian living in the United States. I went on 3 overseas missions trips, I was an integral part of the church’s youth group ministry as a leader and teacher of young women, I lead the worship team for the High School ministry and played the piano for the main church, I was actively involved in the Women’s Ministry along many, many other church retreats, local outreaches, outings and fellowships and to top it off I gave tons of money to both my church and local charities. To put it mildly I was the one considered by my friends a true believer, someone they would come to for advice on Christian topics.

There was a problem with my faith, however. When I moved to my new hometown, my bible study group discussed what it meant to take a good look at our faith and to try to prove it based on our “fruits.” I decided to take the challenge. As what my husband would call a “Bible Thumper” for many years I thought I knew what fruits were. Ok, so as I started to think about it, maybe I didn’t. Sure I knew what the Fruits of the Spirit were. Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV) says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” I felt like I had a pretty good handle on it. But for some reason that didn’t really satisfy what I felt my pastor was asking me to look for. So, into some deeper study I went. My sister often says to people who are researching things to just ask her sister, aka me. She calls me the hound dog of the family. If anyone wants to know if something is true or reliable they ask me to find out. So, I kept digging. You will see what I found in the following chapter. To varying degrees all of these things combined helped me see the bigger picture. Fruit is my walk with God. It is my thirst after His Word. It is the daily conviction of the Holy Spirit. It is my disdain for things of this world. It is my insatiable desire to be with God but at the same time please him. It is my boldness for Christ and my unworldly compassion for the people I used to hate and who actively hate me. It is my strong desire to do God’s will and not my own.

It all began to click when I considered that the following two passages could be about me! I have read them so many times and glossed over them thinking they were talking about the people of Jesus’ day or another city, but NOT ME! Take a good look and reconsider your life.

Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV)

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘‘Lord, Lord,’’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’’ And then will I declare to them, ‘‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’’ (Emphasis added.)

These are the people who think they are saved! This is to everyone, not just the people he was talking to. He is talking about the Day of Judgment. The part about prophecy and casting out demons was what threw me off. Even though our works are different today than they were in the New Testament times, the application is the same. We have to remember context. If it were written today it might say, “Lord, Lord, did we not go to church, invite our friends, tell others when they were in the wrong, and give tons of money to charities in your name?” The sentiment is exactly the same, just in the context of our day. I don’t know about you, but I just cringe at this. This is quite possibly the scariest passage in all of scripture. Think about how many millions of people are deceived into thinking they are saved and are not. Jesus says on that day MANY will question why they are cast into Hell. This is no light matter. THIS IS HUGE!

Revelation 3:15-17 (ESV)

‘‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

This is a letter to the church in Laodicea. This is the current church we live in. He is talking about us… now!

I mistook the various ministries I was involved in as fruits when all my efforts were really just self-promotion. I have lived a selfish and self-serving kind of faith in Jesus, only trusting in him when I needed Him. I was the epitome of a “Lukewarm American Christian” living out a clinical sort of faith. With all of this understanding and by God’s mercy in opening my eyes, on May 20, 2013 I came to the harsh realization that I have been only “dating Christ” and not actually committed to him in every way he commands us to be. It was then that I got on my knees and fully repented of my arrogance, foolishness and sin and gratefully and fully handed my life over to Him.

Since that day there have been three significant changes that I have experienced in my self-indulgence of worldly things, my lack of love for others, and my lack of true love for God.

Outwardly, my life was characterized by my selfishness and desire for things of this world. It is astounding to see this supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in my life to placate the desires almost over night. God says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (John 2:15)

Inwardly, my life was characterized by a disdain of humanity as a whole. Even though my friends didn’t see this, I felt I was somehow better than everyone else; more entitled than others. I can honestly say that my heart of stone has been turned to a heart of flesh with compassion and love for everyone! God is clear, “By this all people will know, that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

And thirdly, and most importantly, I AM NOT ASHAMED OF JESUS ANYMORE! Other’s boldness for Christ is something I always marveled at and just thought, that is for them but not for me. No! The bible says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes!” (Romans 1:16)

I find it so beautiful that God has done these amazing things in my life just in such a short time and I am so excited to see what he has in store. I am also afraid, because I know there are things to come that are going to be hard, extremely hard, but I have asked God to test my faith. I am at peace with this, knowing that even if it is a gut-wrenching test I will come out stronger, refined by His fire.

I have found that a good hard long look into your own faith is so crucial. I hope you find this website useful to your own walk with God.

4 thoughts on “Testimony ~ Jen O’Sullivan

  1. Pingback: Holding God Hostage | Holy. Just. Love.

  2. This is an awesome website Jen. This is amazing. I love all the pictures, you are a really great photographer and a great writer too!

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