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Faith Imagined: Accustomed to Paradise

Faith Imagined

Alisa Hope Wagner: Christian Writer

May 22, 2011

Accustomed to Paradise

Brian "Head" Welch came to our church and talked about how he met Christ. I loved his testimony, which you can read at I am Second. He "test drove the world," and he had everything that the world could offer: fame, money, women, success, etc. But a "dark cloud" hovered over his life, and he lived in misery. He thought he was a "loser," he was addicted to drugs and he couldn't care for his little girl.

But Jesus changed all that.

After Brian told us his redemption story, he expressed the amazing gift that we have in God. He said that Christianity is the only religion that offers a "Piece of Paradise" here on earth. The promised gift of the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us once we receive forgiveness from Jesus Christ. Jesus took on our imperfection, so we could wear His perfection, and now we stand righteous before a perfect God. Because of grace we are sanctified, and the Holy Spirit can live in us. This beautiful mystery of faith is the ultimate truth of Christianity.

Brian couldn't describe with words the peace and joy that flooded his life when he walked away from everything and followed after God. The world can give us its version of glory, but Brian explained that we were created to desire God. Nothing we consume will quench our yearning for God and His glory.

What moved me most about Brian's Holy Spirit filled words was his delight and awe of God. Brian had found "paradise," and it was better than anything he had ever known. His excitement reminded me that I dwell in this paradise daily. I rest in green meadows and walk by peaceful streams (Psalm 23). God's presence is so much a part of my life that I think I sometimes forget what I have.

The Holy Spirit has been prompting me over and over again to remember what God has done in my life. I finally sat down and started from the time I was young, listing the amazing movement of His will in my mess. I thought about the times He protected and cared for me and when He guided and encouraged me. I looked at all the blessings in my life and saw how He has grown me and changed me into His image.

My transformation from an insecure 14 year old who was hopeless and lost to the strong Christian woman I am today is nothing short of miraculous. Changing from a person who hated reading and studying to becoming the learner and researcher I am now is shocking. God makes the fool wise and that is so obvious in my life. I am a fool who is only wise because God loves me, Christ died for me and the Holy Spirit guides me.

I don't want to take the "paradise" I have today for granted. I remember how I felt with out Jesus, and I was miserable, purposeless and confused. Now I'm surrounded by peace, joy, love and hope that cannot be produced without God. I have paradise (a piece of God) inside of me, and that is a treasure worth selling everything for (Matthew 13.44).

"Remember the things I have done in the past.
For I alone am God!
I am God, and there is none like me."

Isaiah 46.9 (NLT)


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25 Comments:

Blogger Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Alisa -

I like that: A Piece of Paradise here on earth.

I accepted Christ at a very young age. As I look back, it's evident how He protected me even when I made mistakes.

Blessings,
Susan :)

5:10 PM  
Blogger Heather Spiva said...

Very nice Alisa. I like the bit about your past too... never would've known you hated to read. Really. NEVER would've known.
Blessings,
Heather

5:14 PM  
Blogger Eileen said...

Beautiful! The message at my church today was on the Holy Spirit too. So thankful that we have His counsel every moment of every day!

5:44 PM  
Blogger Leah @ Point Ministries said...

I have never heard Brian Welch give his testimony, but I've heard it is quite moving.

God has been so ridiculously good to all of us. I'm eternally grateful.

6:26 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

"I finally sat down and started from the time I was young, listing the amazing movement of His will in my mess." I think this would make a great exercise for a writer but especially for a Christian. It can be so hard to see our own growth. Thanks for sharing, Alisa.
Pam Williams

8:14 PM  
Blogger Michael Manning said...

This story reminded me of the interview I conducted with Ken Mansfield. It is amazing how people turn their lives around for the better! I'll take a closer look at this!

9:33 PM  
Blogger lynnmosher said...

What a great post, Alisa! I love this...I don't want to take the "paradise" I have today for granted. Amen! Gotta remember that. May even put it on a sticky note. Blessings to you!

9:52 PM  
Blogger The Unknowngnome said...

Every day and every way with song and praise and thanksgivings does paradise unfold. Our maturing from milk to meat to more is His doing. Let me never forget.

12:18 AM  
Blogger Shanda said...

I like this. I often need to go back and remember where I was also to be thankful for where God has brought me. It reminds me of the Church at Ephesas that had lost their first love. I don't want God to take my light and nfluence away because I have forgotten all He has done and lost my first love for him.

1:24 AM  
Anonymous Ginger said...

Such a beautiful picture of that grace, is your testimony as you continue to share on your blog.

11:41 AM  
Blogger Kelly L said...

Hi - I am asking for fellow bloggers to visit my site in hopes that we can find a match for a young girl that desperately needs a bone marrow transplant. Would be great if you could visit today too. Thank you. Kelly
http://ivebecomemymother.blogspot.com/2011/05/help-save-child-urgent-request.html
I've Become My Mother
I've Become My Mother facebook

9:48 PM  
OpenID bluecottonmemory said...

I love the part about walking beside peaceful streams and in meadows. I like that peace. I praise God that He guided me out of dysfunction and hurt into His wholeness and healing. He can take us out of anywhere we are and take us to where we need to be - beside those peaceful streams and meadows!
Taking us out of the ugly into something beautiful! Your post reminds me of just how much I love our God!

8:43 AM  
Blogger Missie said...

So true. Thank you for that reminder. I think I need to write down the ways that God has worked in my life too...the little miracles we push under the rug all too often.
Thanks!

9:01 AM  
Blogger Toyin O. said...

It is always amazing to see the transfomation in people's life. That was a great testimony from Brian Head.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Bernadine said...

Enjoyed readng this post. So great that God gave you a love for writing. Your gift truly touch lives.

9:03 PM  
Blogger Jackie said...

I love hearing the testimony of a change life. I love tge people who are willing to be transparent, so that what shows is Jesus.
I really appreciate your reference to your former, insecure 14-year-old self and your affirmation of the now "strong Christian woman", stating both very matter of fact. I loved that, and it struck me.

12:54 AM  
Blogger Renee Ann said...

Great reminder that God is still working in hearts! Sometimes I'm tempted to write people off, thinking they'll never release their old lifestyle to come to Christ. I'm always encouraged when I hear a testimony of radical change. It renews my own joy in the Lord in a special way. Thanks!

5:19 AM  
Blogger Beth in NC said...

Beautiful post! I have seen him interviewed on DayStar. What a sweet testimony for sure!

I don't want to take anything for granted either.

Bless you! Hope you can come visit me sometime.
Beth

2:21 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I somehow came across some You Tube videos of him a few months ago and was so touched by his story. I don't care how deep the pit or how murky the waters, He will pull us out of that pit of destruction as David said He did for him.

I know He did that with me!

Thank you for sharing!

6:08 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

Great post!

What a testimony! And yet, we all have our own, don't we? Maybe not as dramatic, but still a testament to the great and powerful work that God does in each believer's life!

I used to be absolutely terrified to get up in front of people and talk. Now, I love it - I pray for the opportunity to speak. Like you - that is rather miraculous.

LOVED the verse from Isaiah...

GOD BLESS, Alisa!

(P.S. How's Crissy doing?)

10:48 PM  
Anonymous Alex Marestaing said...

He just came to our church too, and I was blessed by his humble testimony. It's cool to see God moving so strongly through a "rocker" guy who is just trying to serve God. The verse you posted is awesome, because if we "remember the things" God has done in the past, that gives us peace as we walk towards the future.

10:22 AM  
Blogger Patti Hanan said...

It is good for us who have been Christians for a long time to remember and thank God for all he has seen us through. May we never take it for granted. To remember that Jesus took on our imperfection, so we could wear His perfection. What an amazing gift! Thank you for encouraging me today :)

12:36 PM  
Blogger Lacey said...

Making that list is a great idea! Great post:)

6:19 PM  
Blogger Dawn M. Hamsher said...

Alisa,
Thanks for posting this. I really enjoyed all the "I am Second" testimonies.

The Write Soil

1st Writes

8:24 PM  
Blogger Dean Spencer said...

Alisa -

I read and watched his testimony on Brian's (Head's) website. That is really moving. I hope his life continues to be a testimony of God's grace and mercy.

Thanks for sharing!
God bless!
Dean

11:52 AM  

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