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Broken cisterns

January 2003 | by Stephen Hagget

Having been raised in a Christian home, I was used to the Bible, praying and hearing about God. For many years, however, these were only words to me, and I paid no heed to them.

Just four weeks before I started attending church again, I was sitting with my sister at our home in Mullion, telling her I would have to leave home. I could no longer cope with all the Christian conversation, dinner-table graces, or even the ‘gospel gems’ on the wall of the toilet!

I was convinced that I could find my own way in life. However, in God’s great love and mercy, he began to point me away from the broken cisterns of selfish enjoyment, to the ‘fountains of living water’ – to God himself, the only true source of happiness.

Increasingly, God’s Holy Spirit was making me aware of my arrogance and foolishness. The Lord was graciously humbling me before himself and showing me my hopeless spiritual position.

Realities

Truths that had for so long been just words were now becoming realities. The death of the Lord Jesus Christ was no longer an event for all mankind, but a personal act of atonement for me.

God’s only Son had voluntarily taken human form and had suffered the pain and anguish of a humiliating death – for a sinner who was seeking comfort in the pleasures of this world and had relegated Almighty God to ‘something I might think about at some point’.

Not only was the crucifixion of the Son of God a personal event for me, but in every sense it was my sin and unworthiness that had caused it. It was his love for me that caused him to remain on the cross and suffer the agony of separation from his Father in my place.

Things were changing

The Holy Spirit enabled me to see this as a vivid and living truth – no longer a cold piece of ‘fiction’. The process of humbling was truly advancing!

Slowly, things began to change in my life. I found myself wanting to question, wanting to find out more, and wanting to learn.

I vividly remember one day hearing myself arguing at work that creation was the only possible explanation for the beginning of the world. I realised that I believed it, and that something was happening to me. The priorities in my life were changing – and I was reading my Bible.

In God’s goodness, I carried on asking questions and attending church, hearing God’s Word and receiving the love, warmth and prayers of God’s people.

Over time it became clear that everything in my outlook had changed – I was increasingly trying to put God at the centre of my life. What I would have dismissed as impossible twelve months ago, had actually happened. I had become a Christian.

In Christ alone

And it is by God’s grace that it happened. One of the most difficult lessons to learn is that nothing we ourselves can do will ever bring salvation. I needed to put myself completely in his hands, to fall down before the cross and cry for mercy.

Difficult as this was, I was enabled by God’s grace to place my faith solely in Jesus Christ. Instead of pouring water into broken cisterns, I was being drenched in the living fountains and mighty rivers of God’s love and mercy.

I now rejoice to proclaim God’s goodness to me. Christ gave his life for me – I now wish to devote my life to him. Trusting the Lord Jesus as my own personal Saviour has given me the peace I often craved but never found. It has also changed my attitude to life, work and relationships with others.

The love of God’s people and the warmth and love of my church in Penzance have been enormous factors in God’s dealings with me. I feel happy, convicted and repentant all at once.

Prayer

I have also become aware that God’s plan for me has been unfolding over many years. Since becoming a Christian, one of the most exciting and moving things I have learned is that many people had been praying for me for years!

Even people I didn’t know have told me how much they prayed – yet I was utterly undeserving of these prayers.

Some years ago, a Christian man – now in glory – said to me a few weeks before he died, that he might not see me again in this life but hoped he would in the next. By God’s great grace, his prayers for my salvation have now been answered.