Does God Transform People?  

Read Danni’s personal story – In Her Own Words – below:

“When I started coming to Church on Mill a little over 3 years ago, I was in the midst of a several year period of not being convinced that the Christian life was worth living. I knew there was a God, and I believed Jesus had come and died for my sins, but I felt like I had tried out life as a Christian for years, and it didn’t work. I had had some great times feeling very connected with God, but just as many times feeling distant from Him and like I was on my own to figure it out. I had times where I was certain He had answered my prayers, but even more times when it seemed He had ignored them. I became angry and cynical and decided it was better not to pray at all. It seemed too painful to ask God for help, and be let down again, so I spent a few years trying to avoid Him. My biggest frustration was that it didn’t seem like God was actually good; He just kinda did whatever He wanted according to His will and had no regard for my pain or my desires or my life in general.  Thankfully, I found some people here that asked me hard questions about my views of God and encouraged me to go back and look at the Bible to see who He really is.

When I finally listened and stopped trying to avoid those thoughts, I read the Bible, and began to pray again.  During that time, I also started reading Tim Keller’s book called Prayer, and I only made it one or two chapters in, but one thing that blew me away was that he said prayer is a conversation that starts with what God has already said and done, which is revealed in the Bible. So, the conversation doesn’t start with me.  I thought prayer was useless because it was just asking for things, and then maybe getting them, but maybe not.  But that’s not it at all.  The conversation started way before I was even alive.  It started when He created the world, and when He sent His perfect Son, Jesus, to earth to live and suffer and die in my place, taking the punishment that I completely deserve. So I realized two things: 1. Even if my entire life on Earth was nothing but hardship and pain, what God already did for me, through Jesus’ life and death and resurrection is absolutely enough. And 2. My prayers (and my life) should, first and foremost, be a response to that, thanking Him for giving me far more than I deserve.  I don’t deserve life, but He created me anyway, and I absolutely don’t deserve to be adopted into His family, but thank goodness, He doesn’t give me what I deserve.

For a short time, I lost sight of reality and my relationship to God because life got hard, but when I read the Bible and engaged in conversations with people here, I was reminded of God’s goodness, and the times of suffering have started to make sense.  In the times I felt like He wasn’t answering my prayers, He was changing my heart, and allowing me to now understand the Gospel in ways I didn’t before.  I thought He had no regard for me, but He was using my suffering and then this community to make me more like Him.  I remember thinking in the midst of the suffering that no lesson God could teach me through it could be worth the pain I felt, and I suppose if He were just teaching me head knowledge, that might be true, but He is far more gracious to us, having gone to great lengths to allow us to be His sons and daughters, and experience Him.  That is what is ultimately good for us, just Him, and being conformed to His image.  If He had answered my prayers in the ways I wanted, my momentary desires would have been fulfilled, but that’s not what I need.  I need Him, and I need His grace and mercy, which He freely gives to me, in ways that are so much better than I could plan.”