Thankful to Jesus Christ
by Roberto Machado Noa
Billy Graham once said something like this: I have never met a man who knew Jesus and regretted it.
That is so true. Meeting Jesus, for me was the same as with History. There is a BEFORE and an AFTER. The difference cannot be seen at the begining. After you decide to follow Him you need start acting by faith. Obeying what He says although you don't understand. You need start reading or listening the Bible ( I love the Bible Gateway App). Even if you disobey or sin, keep pressing on.Come to Jesus as you are and keep trying in faith. He is patient and understand our challenges and shortcomings. Jesus treasures are HIDDEN in His Word. The process is long but renewal will come, joy will flood your life, fear will disappear. I promise you!
Like most people , I hated the mention of Him. I hated the idea of Religion and Church. Rules and leaders. Sometimes they had doubious behaviors or reputation. I was raised in a well off family in Cuba. The communist society preached materialism so believing and faith was for nuts. The word Religious had a negative emphasis. My parents work all day and I was lacking affection. My grandma took care of myself. Communication in my home was not a skill. All of us, bottled whatever we felt. Life was lived apparently well,no discussions,no arguments. I learned to be valued for what I could achieve. I learned I needed to succeed. I was smart and all grades from school were A+.
My parents were so happy. My dad show off taking me to the carnivals to drink beer with his friends. I had my first sip at about 12. Then came the teen age. In high school, I had my first girlfriend. I loved her. After two years with her, I was betrayed. It hurt like hell, I cried, suffered but kept strong and never went back. Relationship was over and the trust in women as well. I started dating many young girls who under the liberated Cuban education were eager to have sex and fun. With the girls, came alcohol and not so good friends.
At that time, I entered in Marta Abreu University for Electric Engineering. I took it because it was very hard to enter. My grades allowed me to do that with no trouble. To be a doctor you required an average of 87 and I had 97. I started to study hard but wanted to keep my lifestyle. My first big failure came when I had to quit. Couldn't handle the pressure of being loved and accepted by everyone.
My parents and family said no a word. My dad was a little more open and positive. He only said, some other door will open. That I felt, like a new task to conquer. I immediately started to work in a machinery shop. I learn to machine in a year. I was ready for a C qualification and went for it. The administration didn't needed another machinist so I was given a C test with elements of an A. Opinions of my "friends" made me feel the "injustice" so I quit again.
The disordered life with drinks and girls continue. I had two or three brawls in bars. In one my mouth lip was broken.
I started to partake in a dangerous practice of shooting fireworks in my town "parrandas". I took to be "a man" to do that. I wanted to prove I could. I did it for several years and got one hand burnt once. The disordered life continued. A friend of mine lovingly baptized me with a surname "El Loco" = "The Crazy One"
Once I borrow my mom car and took friend to another's town "parranda". We drank like crazies. Late at night, I came driving under the influence. In an elevated bridge, police ordered us to stop. I felt Steve McQueen and refused. A pursuit started. There is different version over the details so I won't go there. In a curve of a small road at 120 km/h our car went out the road, turned twice over its wheels and collided with a fence. In that split second, I saw a great light a bum! and darkness again. The car was a write off. Police arrived, took us to hospital. Me and the three other friends had no a scratch. We were taken to the Police Station and we slept the night in a cell. Next day, a good policeman intervined and said: They are just kids, they have enough punishment with the lost car and the scared they got. So we were released.
Without the car, I didn't have so many friends or girls so drinking increased. After a period of time, I fell with Hepatitis. No matter what I did, it didn't go away. So I was taken to a specialized institute in Cuba and was diagnosed with Wilson's disease. I couldn't drink either. What to do?
I started studying English self taught. The special period started. That was when the Eastern block of socialist countries disappered. Cuba was left alone and Castro resisted. Old people say, it was worse than the crisis of 1933. My English allowed me to start working in tourism. In a hotel. Where? In a bar. I tried not to drink but the pressure was inmense. I started trying diffent foreign beverages. They were a luxury in the impoverished Cuba. The USD was illegal but tourists gave us tips so my economic status improved. To make the story short I will tell you with no details that I got hooked to money and stood in that bar for 15 years. The demands to keep such good job were impressive. The competition from other employees, the leaders who wanted to place their friends there, the political demands of the system, you had to do all everyone else wanted to survive. I started giving bribes, paying drinks of big shots, I don't know what else. The bar was my idol and only reason to live. With the economic advantage, I felt important, successful. My health was suffering again.
In that hotel there was a young man who was always happy, joyful and smiling. He was forgiving, never got in a quarrel or gossip. The light in his eyes was different. Although, he always said he was imperfect, I disagreed. Everybody, loved him. Everybody, spoke good things of him. When we started talking, he was all ears, never argued or insisted that he was right. He got my trust and started to talk about Jesus. I was always competitive so I started to research and asked him tough questions. I was surprised to see sometimes he replied: "I don't know" and continue as peaceful as before. I started to go to church to learn about Jesus. Every Sunday, I felt energized after coming out of church. One day, I gave my life to Jesus and started obeying "some" of the commands. I had my first love with Christ, I hit the border of fanatism. As Christ taught, persecution and accusers who pointed my past came. I became laughstock for most people. But I pressed on. Later, I learned that obedience should come naturally out of love for HIM, for what he did.
Somewhere in the middle of the previous parragraph, I met my wife and had two children with her. My life was a total confusion, the pressures came from all places. I wanted to do one thing but Christ said otherwise. I started noting that when I prayed, leave things to Him, trust in Him most of my worries were false.Christ fixed many of my problems when I kneeled and prayed. On the other hand, When I took things on my hands, things didn't often go well. The more and more, I started to depend on Him. A relationship started. My mind was always talking to God. The mess was still going on. Sometimes he delivered others don't. Then, I knew that when He said no it was for my own good. No Dad gives his Son a serpent despite his asking.
My wife and I had planned only two children. Somehow, I started feeling that I wanted another one. My wife opposed. We took it to a pastor who prayed and put it in Gods hand. After a year, my wife suffered and immense pain and was taken to hospital. She was suffering from complications of the anticonceptive method she had. The deviced was removed. We took all precautions but anyhow she became pregnant. Everything around us told us to abortion was the solution, we were tempted. But obedience said no. We had the boy. Our third one and nowadays my Benjamin. Nowadays, when I look at him, enjoy him I know obeyin God only brings good thing. You can never lose by obeying.
The new child brought new challenges and pressures. My health was not so good. I couldn't handle the pressure with work, helping my wife and the three three kid's needs. I end up losing the 15 years job because of an anger fit with my boss who refused to give me days off to help at home.
My world was turned upside down. The home finances were a mess. We started to sell popsicles to survive. I got angry with the church. I blamed God for what had happened. I think for a year, I didn't touch a Bible. However, I kept constantly arguing with God in my mind. What to do? I decided to immigrate to Canada. It was the only legal way available. People said I was nuts. It is very very rare to find people who succeed in immigrating legally from Cuba. The only way most people succeed at is the illegal or unethical methods. The requirements for the Canadian Skilled Worker Program were immense. Among those, proven English by IELTS, proven French by the French Alliance,I needed to have 24,500 dollars in a Canadian Bank. It seemed impossible but God taught me to have faith and not be fearful. I had lost the fear of failure. I took on the challenge one step at a time. Jobless still and studying God opened a door for intership in other hotels. That helped me with the financing of some parts of the project. My best friend in the US and another friend in Canada deposited the 24,500. After two years, I, along with my family,took my first plane and legally immigrated to Canada.
That was my first BIG achievement in Christ. From that point on, I have had victories and reverses but God have been with me all the way. I live a successful life not because of what I do. I am successful because I am a son of God. Because I know that I am forgiven. I know that although imperfect, God loves me.
God never fails. Here are some of my battles: I stopped drinking. I overcame all kid of fears even the fear to die. I learned that I am imperfect so I need Him everyday. I found myself, that is who I really am. I live my life for Jesus. I don't care what other people think of me. I care about what God thinks of me. God revealed the hidden problems of my childhood while I prayed or dreamed. I soon started fixing them. I haven't finished yet but I press on by faith. He will help me. The healing process has been long but worth it every second. I trust women again. I love my wife and she loves me. We live the one for the other.
I have become a friend to my children. I speak with them and recognize my shortcomings. I apologize with them when they prove me wrong but I also have authority over them and the obey and respect me. The three of them believe. I taught them not to be RELIGIOUS but to have a relationship with God. My marriage is 22 years old now. My wife is also my friend. Our home is most of times harmonious.
I went to college in Canada and succeeded. After working for employers, I own my own business now and I make enough to live comfortably. My business is doing what I really love: Photography. Only few live full time out of Photography nowadays. God found the way. In my life, everything fell in place. In a nutshell, I see a sea of Blessings all over me. Do I have problems? Yes, everyday. But God is walking with me everyday, helping me, fighting for me.He says YES and He says NO. But, I am not alone.
Do I deserve this? NO Am I perfect? NO. Am I working on it? YES, with the help, grace and forgiveness of the blood of Jesus who SAVES. I have know Jesus for about 10 years and I am never going back.
MY LIFE IS LIKE HISTORY. THERE IS A BEFORE CHRIST AND AN AFTER CHRIST. I hate the egoism, pride and selfishness that was in me in the BEFORE so I fully agree with BILLY GRAHAM who said: I have never met a man who knew Jesus and regretted it.