My Testimony: From Darkness to Light

By Janine Ridings

I had the privilege of growing up in a Christian home, and attended church from the time I was a small child. The summer after completing third grade, I attended a Christian camp called Sambica where I “asked Jesus into my heart.” During my elementary school years, even though I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, I never quite figured out how to have a close relationship with Him or rely on Him to help guide me through life. I looked at giving my life to Jesus more as an insurance policy so that I wouldn’t end up in hell when I died.

When I reached the teen years, I was a typical insecure teenager who longed to fit in with my peers. While I was in high school, I started smoking and drinking to feel like I was part of the “in crowd.” In my freshman year of college at Western Washington University, I got heavily involved in the party scene, drinking two or three nights per week. The more I drank, the more my drinking got out of control. One night I had so much to drink that as I was walking down the hall, I bounced off one wall, took a few steps and bounced off the other wall; I was a pitiful sight. I was blind to my drinking problem, thinking I was just having fun.

My sophomore year of college I transferred to Washington State University (W.S.U.). During this time, I felt my life had no direction or purpose, and the main thing I looked forward to was living for the next party. I often had several blackouts per week where I didn’t remember what I had done the night before or how I had gotten home. I think it must’ve been my mother’s prayers that kept me alive during that time. I was making very foolish choices, and I feel lucky to have lived through all my drinking binges.

One afternoon on December 6, 1978, I was crying in my room at the sorority where I lived when the phone rang. It was my close friend, Kim, and she asked what was wrong. After sharing some of my struggles with her, she responded by saying, “Look at the mess you are making out of your life. Something has to change!” Wow! Did I ever need that wake up call. What a wonderful friend to love me enough to confront me about a lifestyle that could’ve easily ended up killing me. After I got off the phone, I remember going back to my room and looking up at my closet. All of a sudden it was as if the Holy Spirit shined His flashlight on my life, and the person I had become repulsed me. As I looked at all my belongings, the Lord impressed upon me how sinful my life was. It was at that moment that I told the Lord I wanted to change and let Him run my life.

After that, I started attending various Bible studies and churches that were on or near the campus of W.S.U. The Lord slowly took away my desire for alcohol and cigarettes, and gradually started changing me from the inside out. I developed such an avid desire for the Word of God that I preferred to spend time reading the Bible rather than my schoolbooks.

When it became apparent that my greatest passion in life was to read and devour God’s Word, I decided it would be prudent to go to a Bible college where I could study the Bible and get credit for it. In the middle of my junior year at W.S.U., the Lord led me to transfer to Northwest University, the school my grandfather had founded many years before. As I attended Northwest, I grew leaps and bounds in my relationship with the Lord, learning how to let Him lead and direct my life. I started learning to “walk by faith,” trusting in God to show me what His plans for my life were. I learned that the Bible was my compass, giving my life direction and purpose. I also learned to pray to God during hard times, rather than turning to alcohol to ease my pain.

In my late 20s, the Lord brought along a godly husband, Dean, and we have been serving the Lord in various capacities since our marriage in 1987. A few ways we have ministered together include leading home fellowships groups and marriage classes. I, myself, have been involved in other ministries including speaking for various women’s events, contributing articles to a variety of Christian publications, and founding Aroma of Christ, a ministry to the chemically sensitive.

As I look back on my life, I am so thankful for what God has done for me, rescuing me out of the spiritual darkness that I lived in during my teenage years. I now not only sense a divine plan and purpose for my life on this earth, but also have the hope of spending eternity with God in heaven someday. Revelation 7:15-17 gives us a little glimpse of what heaven will be like:

“Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

What a glorious hope I now look forward to because of my commitment to Jesus Christ. I am so thankful He saved a sinner like me, and gave me hope for this life and for the life to come.

Categories Special Subjects | Tags: | Posted on January 30, 2012

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