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Written by Vanessa Lombardo   

 

Vanessa Lombardo.

Testimony of the grace of Christ.

(A testimony given at a women's meeting in Sydney Australia 2012.) 

It is an absolute honour to be standing up here tonight in the presence of such beautiful, amazing women of God. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to tell you my story, to tell you what the power of Jesus has done so far and is still doing in my life.

Let me first start by telling you that this is only part 1 of my powerful testimony. I am somewhere in the middle of my story as I know that I am a work in progress and I am confident, that He who began a good work in me, will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

God has always been my first love, I thank my parents for teaching me about God at such an early age, I thank my mother for always telling me to have faith in Him and that He is always listening to my prayers. In fact, my earliest memory is of me praying to God. I loved Him so much, perhaps that aggravated the devil because now when I look back at my childhood, I see that the devil did many things to take me away from God, and I sadly admit that I eventually let him win.

So let me start from the very beginning. I must have been about 4 years old when I started to get overwhelmed with negative thoughts of fear and self disgust, these thoughts developed into a life of constant anxiety, depression, confusion, darkness and defeat. The older I got, the more I had mastered the art of worry. I became so fearful of everything. I suffered years of night terrors, (which might very well be the reason why I am so good at staying awake all night). This battle that was going on in my mind took the focus away from God. The more I worried, the less I prayed, the more depressed I felt, the more I wanted to die. It seemed that as the years went by, the harder I tried the more I failed.

By the age of 17, my heart had been broken to pieces –so far, twice by men, watching my parents end up in divorce, and countless times by the pretty, thin, blond girls who teased me for looking this way.

I felt like there was no point in trying anymore, after all, I was an expert at failure; all I saw when I looked in the mirror was a very fat frightened ugly girl. …..I couldn't escape the dark cloud that had set up camp over me and my life.

It was then that I decided to try marijuana – all my friends had been doing it for a while, why was I always saying no? – I was the girl who sat at the front of class and did the right thing, I never jigged school. I spent my lunch times looking out for kids that sat on their own and always asked them to join me. I was nice to my teachers and really cared about people…. But where did that get me? “Yeah I’ll have some” I remember saying as I put my hand out to take the joint from my girl friend’s hand. It was like magic, after having it, I was not worrying anymore – I was numb and I loved it.

My weekend smokes with the girls became three times a week and before I knew it, I was scoring drugs on my own and smoking dope every night. Then I met a boy who I fell desperately in love with– I moved in with him, as I couldn't wait to get out of the house to avoid watching my parents’ marriage fall apart, and being out of the house will take care of having to hide my drug use that soon became an addiction. I was smoking constantly, from the minute I woke up to the minute I passed out. I did everything I could to avoid being “straight”.

A few years on and loving the idea of being so out of it that I can barely think, I started to experiment with other drugs, and my relationship fell apart. Unfortunately, no drug could numb the intense heartache I was experiencing inside my chest. How was I going to mend this broken heart of mine?

I turned to God, but only to yell at Him – How could you do this to me. How could you let me have so much pain in my life, How can you sit back and watch me die. Why don’t you take my life God, Why God Why??

I never stopped and listened to what God had to say, I just decided that I would find ways to get through this. I couldn't take my own life, even though I desperately wanted to, because every time I entertained the appealing thought, I knew that if I did kill myself, I would destroy my beautiful family.

Escape was the only way!

I was taking so many different drugs, you name it – I took it.

So what about rejection? How could I validate myself again? By giving myself to men!

I thought that if I could be desirable to men then I wouldn't feel so ugly and unloved. I didn't care how men wanted me, I just wanted them to want me. It was awful!

So things only got worse, I barely spoke to God, not even to tell Him off anymore. I fell in love another three times, only to be left with my heart broken again. It was then that I turned to Ice – also known as crystal methamphetamine – also known as the devil’s drug.

My plan was to hide from any type of emotion. I didn't want to feel anything. I found comfort in losing myself until I was unconscious, and to get there, I had to take more and more until dealers were actually turning me down saying they didn't want to be part of my road to death. I had to start approaching strangers in the cross in the hope that I could score off them, and you can’t imagine some of the things I had to do to get what I needed.

On top of this, I was running out of money despite my double shifts. I spent all my savings and could barely afford bread, which is how my addiction and my disgusting sinful nature took me even further into sin, I was now thieving! Not stealing cars or people’s wallets, I was stealing Campbell’s canned soup from Coles so that I could survive.

Countless times I tried to overdose, I was mixing things that I was warned not to mix being told “you could die” – that was music to my ears, if I could pass out and not wake up I would have achieved getting rid of this darkness, this deep emptiness, this ferocious pain.

If you know anything about ice, it is a drug that is worse than heroin – it literally makes you crazy, it turns you into something that you are not, it makes you see things that aren't there. I was picking out imaginary worms from my skin, cutting the split ends off my long hair until I ended up with a bob cut. I would trim my fingernails so short until they would bleed. I would sleep a few hours a week if I was lucky. It was as though I had sold my soul to the devil. I gave him the reins to my life and this is who I became.

I remember standing in my room 3 years into my ice addiction, I called out to God, this time I was beyond angry with Him, I hated Him “How dare you put drugs in my path when you knew I would end up like this, How dare you let me fall apart like this when I loved you so much. You call yourself God? You say you are a loving God!! I HATE you”.

What I didn’t know then was just how many times God did give me His hand to get me out, How many times He whispered in my ear to be strong and to stop swallowing the pills, to stop using and to stop letting men do these things to me. It was me who ignored Him. Sometimes I stop and look in the mirror and yeah, I still don’t like what I see, I have the scars on my face that show the many nights of picking out the imaginary worms from my pores. But then I cry and watch the tears fall down my cheeks that aren't so destroyed as the way they should be because of my $500 dollar a day ice addiction, My teeth are intact and I am ridiculously healthy considering the 15 years of 24hours a day of heavy substance abuse… That was God. He preserved me so that I could one day help another.

It was God who woke me up every morning after passing out unconscious, even though my deadly concoctions should've killed me. It was my loving Heavenly Father who washed me and made me new again.

I was broken, and if I didn't take God’s hand when I did, I would not have survived much longer. I had tried to get clean on my own, I went to psychiatrists, psychologists, Crystal Meth Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous. Nothing worked, I was always saying Hi I’m Vanessa and I’m an addict, I've been clean for 2 hours – 6 hours if I was doing well.

Once my family found out about the trouble I was in, my mother urged me to move back home with her and my brother, I am very grateful for the relationship that my mum had with God because it was her faith and her prayers that helped me. In a desperate attempt to bring me back to God, my mother took me to Glorious Gospel Church. It truly was the Grace of God, Joanne Takataka and the prayers of my family that got me here, because I felt so worthless that I didn't think I could ever step foot in a Holy place,

but God softened my heart and brought me to a place where I heard His word being preached in such a way I had never heard before. I remember feeling a tug on my heart which I desperately tried to fight because I knew I was not good enough to be there,

I knew I was going home to take more drugs and I didn’t want anything to get in the way of that.

But I looked around and saw people loving God, worshipping Him, I wanted that, I wanted to be good enough to come to Him. I left the church that evening and went home to take more drugs, I kept thinking about my experience at church but I tried desperately to shut it out “I could never be good enough, I am unworthy and disgusting”. I tried to hide from God.

Shortly after intoxicating myself, I remember shaking, I felt the presence of Christ in my room, I felt His love, I continued to shake, I didn't want these drugs in my system, I wanted to be clean, I wanted the drugs to leave my body, I wanted Jesus. I cried out to God begging Him to take me back, to make me clean, to take the drugs out of me. I wanted Him to renew me, and at that very moment I felt led to get a pen and writing pad and I wrote down all of my sins and I asked for forgiveness from every one of my sins. It was His holy presence that led me to confession.

I asked Him to change me, I gave Him my life right there, in my room, by myself. From that moment on, my life changed forever. I certainly wasn’t good enough to come to God but if we wait to be good enough we would never be able to go to Him. He restored my soul and led me to the path of righteousness. It was like someone turned on the light and took this incredibly heavy weight off my shoulder.

I can never describe in words how I felt after my confession, after making Jesus my Lord and Saviour, after finally surrendering to Him. I could never truly describe the Joy I felt, the freedom I felt, the hope I felt. For the first time in my life I felt truly protected and truly safe and truly validated!!

God’s word says “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Just like the parable of the prodigal son that Jesus told His disciples, He really did see me at my worst, but he did not condemn me, instead He ran to me with open arms.

I have never taken drugs since then and I am pleased to say that many of the sins I confessed on that piece of paper, I have never done again and that ladies is because of the power of the Holy Spirit…

Unfortunately, some of my sins I still struggle with, like answering back disrespectfully to my mother sometimes, being jealous of my neighbor, being slow to listen and quick to speak and sometimes angrily….. But I know I am a new creation and I will never stop trying to be more like my Lord.

That’s what I just love about Him, He not only saves you but he changes you, for the better. That song Amazing Grace is perfectly worded – Before Him, we really are lost, I am found now, my chains are broken, I am truly free because I am no longer blind, I now can see. And I love watching him fix me.

Yes the road to Him is narrow and sometimes it’s so hard to deny our flesh and follow Him but on His path, there is a perfect light at the end of the tunnel – even when the dark cloud comes, His light is wrapped around me, sometimes I can’t feel it, but there is joy in the assurance knowing that He is in control, His plans are for me to prosper, giving me hope and a future. Knowing that He adores me, and that I am the daughter of the Most High God and that will never ever change.

Drugs used to be my escape, my comfort, my place to go when I just couldn’t take it anymore. But now I have Jesus and I share my load with Him, I tell Him when I am scared, alone or afraid, I ask Him to hold my hand when I don’t know if I can make it through the next minute. He is my Wonderful Counselor, my comfort, My Mighty God and Everlasting Father, He is my Prince of Peace.

Giving your life to Christ doesn’t mean life becomes trouble free, no! He assures us that in this life we will have trouble, but IN HIM we can take heart because He has overcome the world and we can do all things through Him who gives us strength…

Thank you for your compassion Father, thank you for saving me, thank you Jesus for your sacrifice so that I may be made righteous, so that I can be in continual fellowship with my Heavenly Father. Thank you for your Holy Spirit that lives inside me, giving me power to change, the desire to want to better myself, to produce good and righteous fruit. Thank you for placing me in Glorious Gospel Church, being part of your body. I love you so intensely. Thank you for making all things new. Thank you for exchanging beauty for ashes.

Jesus Loves You.

God Bless.