(Note: Annette Christopher read her testimony one recent Sunday at Hope Chapel before the worship team introduced the song ‘Never Going Back’. It was a very powerful and moving moment for me and others. She has graciously agreed to allow me to publish her words here. –geno)
When I first heard the song, Never Going Back, it had such a connection to my personal story that I felt I could have written the song.
In my childhood, I had to deal with complex emotional issues such as abandonment,abrasiveness and no sense of belonging to anyone or anything.
“Faithful one no matter how far I run. You lead me home. You extend your love. Patiently fathering the orphan in me, you say I’m your own.”
Although my family was once Catholic and then just culturally Catholic, by the time I was child our spiritual digression sank into a strong antiChristian sentiment.So I learned that the idea of a savior was more of a fairytale and needing one was sign of weakness. The way I moved through the world was based on fear and performance. And if you would have asked me at the time, I thought I needed nothing. I didn’t know there was more.
A very unlikely candidate to come to Christ, before I even came, I realize, now, He maneuvered situations in my life all along the way. He knew the beginning from the end.
It was always Him. He found me.
Many years ago a member of this church (Hope Chapel), and my then-coworker, literally sought me out. Like the most extreme cold call you’ve ever heard of,she tirelessly pursued me and sought a way onto my radar and showed a blind person how to see what she saw.
“Righteousness found only in your face.you see my heart, you extend your grace. Eyes open, falling in love again, you say I’m your own I never am alone.”
He found me…like a needle in a haystack.
It’s not easy to convert as an adult into a completely new and foreign thought life. Its relearning everything you’ve always known. And maybe I’ve been surprised by what this choice means at times. And maybe I don’t always like it. It’s a paradigm shift.
But one thing I’ve always known is I’m never going back. Because I know there is nothing “back” to go to. A mystical transaction occurred in my heart when I said yes to Jesus. And previous places I’ve roamed or even lived ,are no longer inhabitable.There is only forward now, even when I can’t see 2 inches in front of me. It’s not only better than the alternative, it’s the best alternative.
About 5 yrs ago, I found myself inexplicably in the hardest place I’ve ever been.Everything was upside down in my thoughts,in my life and in my day to day functioning. I was so overwhelmed with fear and despair, I didn’t think I would come out of it.
But I made up my mind. And I’m glad and grateful for that grace. I’m never going back. I now know, as I’m slowly coming out of my worst bout of refining fire to date, that all His promises are real and true.
“It was always you. You found me.” Stuff I’ve only read or heard about turns out to be true.
“There’s nothing that I have need of. There’s nothing you haven’t done.” This kind of restoration takes lifelong deeply rooted thought destruction and makes it a nonissue.
Where once an unsurpassable obstruction stood; He removed it and gave life to a fortified, better, newer version of me. I’m not the one who says such things. But I’ve experienced it. So now it’s real.
“You make my soul alive. You put your love inside.”