“No matter where you live or who you are, you can become completely happy,” says Nadya.
Nadya is a quiet and relaxed person who does not draw attention to herself. But there is a warmth and love going out from her, and I would like to know where it comes from.
She grew up in a small town and had a good and safe childhood together with her parents and two sisters. Nadya did well at school and was involved in many different activities.
But when she was a teenager, Nadya started to hear people complaining about her behaviour. They were saying that she was such an angry person. And it was true. At home, whenever her mother asked her to do anything, her first reaction as a teenager was, “Why do I have to do that?” And at school, she always wanted to be right, and she would argue on and on until she got what she wanted.
In the evenings, she would often visit her Christian grandmother. Nadya didn’t grow up with Christianity, but she loved listening to her grandmother telling stories from the Bible.
“It was like looking into another world – a world that was completely different from the world in which I lived and where everything was based on human reasoning. The story about Joseph was especially interesting for me. He was sold as a slave to Egypt and thrown into prison; but he still got power from God to be happy and thankful.”
A turning point
Nadya saw that there was a great difference between the lives of the heroes of faith in the Bible and her own life. When she was 15, she came to a turning point that would forever change her life. She had grown up not believing in God, but a short, simple verse that her grandmother read to her from the Bible opened her eyes to who God was. This verse was 1 John 4:12 (CEB), “No one has ever seen God …”
Suddenly she understood that she could not expect to see God with her own eyes. No one had seen Him. You simply had to believe it.
From that point onwards, she wanted to know as much as she could about God’s Word. She would read the Bible day and night. “It was like living water,” she says.
She saw “the old Nadya”
After a short time, she began to see “the old Nadya” again, with her natural sinful desires and old habits.
God’s Word gave her a strong longing to be finished with all this. It was not enough for her to just not speak out when she felt her anger rising up. She wanted to be free; free from selfishness; finished with all her demands and the discontentment in herself.
When she was baptised at age 16, the pastor asked her why she was a Christian. She told him that her testimony was the verse in John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep my commandments.” She loved Jesus and wanted to keep His commandments, which she had read so much about.
“After my baptism, I was very disappointed. My old angry nature started bothering me even more. I was a Christian now, but I still didn’t manage to change. I needed help.”
A new hope
Nadya heard many times that Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. But this no longer brought her comfort.
A short time later, some Christians from Brunstad Christian Church visited her church. She heard them sing a song from the songbook they brought along that gave her new hope.
“Among other things, I heard a song with the words, ‘To the slaves of sin I’ll hasten, For the night is drawing nigh.’ (*“Ways of the Lord” #347) ‘This is what I need,’ I thought.”
Until that day she had felt like a “slave” to sin, like a slave to her anger, but now she saw the cross as the way out of her anger – the way to become free from this anger. Even though Jesus had been completely innocent, He died on the cross on Calvary so that He could forgive our sins.
“But I also saw that the cross was so much more than that. Jesus said No to His own will every day, in all the temptations He came upon. He chose to always do God’s will instead of His own. In Luke 9:23 He calls this to ‘take up his cross daily’ – long before He was crucified on Calvary.”
She now understood that Jesus not only said No to the outward sins that He was tempted to such as angry words, negative actions, etc. – He took up a battle against all the inward sinful desires that lived in His human nature – His self-will, or “sin in the flesh”, as the Bible calls it in Romans 8:3.
On this “daily cross” sin was put to “death” before it became a deed or an action. Jesus not only died on the cross to give us forgiveness of our sins, He also gave us an example that we should follow. The fact that He never gave in when He was tempted to become angry, jealous, offended, etc., gave Nadya the possibility to do the same.
“Paul’s words in Galatians 2:20 got a whole new meaning for me,” she says. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”
She experienced that the cross works
Things started changing in her life. She smiles as she thinks how amazed her mother was when she asked her 17-year old daughter to help out with something, and she got the answer, “Sure, I can do that,” even before her mother had finished asking the question.
“I experienced that the cross works. I thought that if it works in small things, then it would also work when I met bigger things,” she says with a broad smile.
Hope and faith for the future
It was very comforting to finally experience that she could overcome. This gave her hope and faith for the future – faith in a life where she could change more and more, one day at a time. Instead of being an angry, bitter person, she could become happy and thankful.
When asked if she still needs the cross, she answers that she is not perfect.
“I need the cross more than ever before. Even though I have overcome many things, God keeps showing me new areas where I need the cross, where I need to overcome. Then I must continue saying No to my own will, so that the fruits of the Spirit like kindness, goodness etc. can grow more and more in my life."
She uses the verse in Romans 14:17 (NLT) as a guide in her life, “For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” When she has this peace and joy in her heart, she knows that she is following God’s will.
Begin in the small situations
When asked if she has any advice for readers who do not yet have faith in this life, she says, “Trust in God – don't trust in how you understand things yourself. God is almighty. He can change everything. He can make an unhappy person happy. No matter where you live or who you are, you can become really happy.”
It is something she has experienced.
“First, turn to God. You need to be willing to serve God with all of your heart. Begin with the very small things. When you do that, you will find that God is faithful. He makes it so that you can always be happy and thankful, whether your feelings go up or down, and whatever your circumstances are.”