Benjamin Imobersteg

Thun, Switzerland

What if God takes all that's dear to me?

It seemed to be the best year of my life. After a long phase of uncertainty and indecisiveness I finally found the subject that I really wanted to study. In my private life, everything was going great as well. I married a wonderful, loving and funny woman and, seven days after the wedding, I became Swiss Champion in American Football with my team. Can life get any better than this? My first one and a half years of marriage were great, not without conflict, but I was happy, loved my life and felt loved. In the football team I was a welcome teammate, could finally play my favourite position again after the Championship and got a lot of recognition for my play. In my studies, everything went great as well. I realised I was capable of achieving great grades, which motivated me even more, I started dedicating time in the students' committee and I was quickly known and appreciated amongst staff and students.

In this seemingly perfect life, I developed a deeper and deeper longing for God. To the very day, I cannot explain where this longing came from or why, but it was there. I recalled experiences I'd had years earlier in a church and I longed for this kind of loving community. Suddenly, it hit me: My wife had no idea that I ever went to church. Slowly but surely I had lost connection to the church and the people there, to the point that God and faith had become unimportant to me. When I met my wife, and during our first four years together, I had never thought it was worth mentioning this part of my past. I was caught in a dilemma as questions started pouring in. What if my wife doesn't want to come along to church? What if she doesn't share my longing? Or doesn't understand? Or even worse, despises it? What if God asks me to give up this or that? Or even all I hold dear? I was in great fear of losing all the wonderful things of my life, especially my wife.

the Wall painting

One afternoon I gathered all my courage to confront my wife. We had just started to paint a Wall painting of us as a joint project. I put on a Christian CD for encouragement and while painting, I asked her, whether she'd come along to church with me. Without hesitation and further question, she said: "Yeah, sure". You could think that this answer should have relieved me of all my fears. But not me. My anxieties didn't diminish when we arrived at church. It is hard to explain what I heard and experienced during the service. In this very moment, all my fears were completely gone. I was ready to start my journey with God again, no matter what may come.

Later at a dinner with a friend of mine, I experienced what I - for a long time - considered to be my biggest gift from God. This friend was also at the service and told us: " I must admit, I was really surprised that you both raised your hands when the pastor asked, who would like to choose to follow Jesus". I was speechless. Since I had my eyes closed during the pastor's call, I hadn't noticed what was happening around me. My wife shared this longing for God! God has seen my fears and anxieties and put a woman on my side, who wants to search, find and share God with me.

A fresh start

This experience really kickstarted my new life and journey with God. I look back on that day and remember that His ways are always the best for me. I began to realise that I had made many mistakes in my life that affected me more than I was willing to admit. With the newly gained trust I found the courage to discuss these mistakes with people. The saying "Jesus died at the cross for our sins" gained a whole new meaning for me. God became man in Jesus and died to take the burden of my mistakes - primarily self-damnation. I had known that Jesus’ death allowed me to have the opportunity to have a personal relationship with God, but I had never experienced the relieving power of the cross. Now this I now call my biggest gift from God.

I started my story writing "It seemed the best year of my life". Even when I look back at this period of life today, it is saturated with great memories, but life today in fellowship with God gives my life a new dimension. I no longer need to wait for such moments of happiness to trust that God is leading me the right way. He is my counselor, friend and consoler. Can life yet become any better? Yes it can!

Psalm 37, 5 "Commit your way to the LORD, trust in him, and he will act."

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