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Is There More to Life Than This?

Jumping with both feet into the arms of God.

During the Alpha Course, Nicky Gumbel asks the audience: Is there more to life than this? What is the point of life? What is the purpose of my life? And other big life questions. As a Christian, I was convinced by the Holy Spirit that yes, there is a God who not only created me, but also loved me in an unfathomable way – actually “to the point of death, even death on a cross”. Thirty years after my eyes have been opened, I also came to understand that Jesus has died for me the death I was supposed to die; not only as a righteous consequence of my countless sins, but first, because God decided not to let me die in despair, alone, away from His presence. I’m thankful for His amazing love, and I can’t understand how He can love me that much.

My Story

Let me give you a bit of my story, so that you can understand that I’m not new to church or Christian faith. 

Propelled by His love, and stimulated by the leaders of my former church in Brazil, I tried to serve the Lord in all kinds of ministries. I worked in a group dedicated to evangelism through soccer, later I was a member of the team responsible for the youth (around 80 teenagers), I served in the camp of the church in many positions (cleaning, washing big pans, cooking, as a counselor, leader of sports, buyer of groceries, and, when I graduated, as a physician). During these last few years, I served by preaching bi-monthly in two poor churches, which have a special place in my heart. The budget of one of these churches used to be below C$15,000.00 a year. The faith and love of some of the believers there moves me.  

A Change in Cultures

As some of you may know, my family (Debora, Sarah and Felipe) and I arrived in Canada during the Summer of 2016. We had been praying asking for God’s guidance for a year before getting on an Air Canada plane. To move abroad with your family isn’t a simple task, especially when you go to a country populated by those weird Canadians… weird guys… always drinking a Tim Hortons’ coffee saying ‘Eh!’ (Just joking guys, we Brazilians joke a lot with those who we love. Sorry about that. Eh!)

The first few months were hard. Family and friends stayed behind. This is not our culture. The differences are bigger than we expected. Learning the language can be frustrating. Finding a new place to live, a day care for Felipe, assembling all the furniture at once, with the kids upset, etc. We were exhausted every day. And as we talked about it, Debora and I realized that God had given us a big gift: now, we really got to feel how it is not to belong. Here, we don’t have context; it’s like a character being taken out of a book, and being grafted into another book. No one here, in this other book grew up with us. Let me try a different approach: we had never heard anything about a certain Wayne Gretsky before. Can you imagine that? Hope you’re not having a seizure right now…

Heavenly Citizenship

Why did we find that being alone was a divine blessing? During the last 20 years, I talked a lot in church about the meaning of a few verses:

“But our citizenship is in heaven” Philippians 3:20;

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:1-2.

Now stop, and look at the beauty of the next verses, about the patriarch’s, enrolled by God as heroes of faith:

“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” Hebrews 11:13-16

What all these verses have in common, is the truth that all who have put their hope in Jesus are no longer Brazilians, Canadians, etc, but are now citizens of heaven. If I were preaching a sermon about this, I would encourage people to think and act as citizens of heaven, and not as ordinary human beings. This is something we’ve begun to learn.

As I told you before, our first months here were difficult, and I came to the realization that I was way too dependent on my family/friends, way too comfortable trusting my income, way too weak in my trust of God. To summarize, far away from acting as a citizen from heaven, loved by God, saved through Jesus, in-dwelled by the Holy Spirit, secured in His promises, living with a mission. The patent symptom: anxiety. The obvious disease: lack of faith. The root disease: pretend that I searched God with all my heart… All of a sudden, I was struggling both with the hardships of this visible world, and depressed by the sight of my very thin spiritual life… I don’t miss those days. But they were important, very important.

Jumping in with Both Feet

To be honest, just before moving to Canada, I had started to search for the Lord more than in the previous years, mainly to seek His guidance, I mean, should we go or should we not go to Canada? He answered, so we came. I thought I had faith, and a reasonable spiritual life. However, after the realization of the shallowness of my faith, and being encouraged by some of my brothers and sisters (for whom I thank God in my prayers), I decided to jump with both feet into this Christian life. In other words, I decided not to doubt anymore (or try very hard not to) that God is in full control, and that He has the best for my family. I realized that my definition of “best for my family” had to change to His definition about it. I decided to get back to the Bible, read it and meditate on it, and I began to read Christian books like never before.

This first step was great, but fell short from bringing me enduring peace, and joy in the midst of difficult circumstances. I kept asking God for His help in changing my heart. I meant it.

God Doesn’t Lie

Time to stop again, just before the “gran finale”. You know what I discovered? God doesn’t lie. Weird to put those words down, but that is exactly what I have struggled to believe. I would often whisper to myself: “God is not to be fully trusted. Bad things might happen. Be conservative. Use your wisdom. You know how to deal with stuff.” And some more bla, bla, bla…

So, if God doesn’t lie, what is the truth that He has promised to us? I am in awe of the fact that I have now experienced this truth in my life –

“You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you, declares the Lord” Jeremiah 29:13-14

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” Mathew 7:7-8

I’d begun to seek God with true desire to find Him, or to be honest – in desperation to find Him. And He saw that, and He kept His promise stated just above. As a next step, God showed me that reading and meditating on His Word is good, very, very important; however, I still felt that some big chunk of life was missing, and through a dear brother, a book came into my hands. It was about prayer. It arrived at the right time, when the hard soil of my heart was prepared by the Vinedresser. My prayer life, in other words – my relationship with the Father, edged the ridicule. That’s my honest conclusion now.

An Awakening

I don’t have words, not in English, nor in Portuguese, to say what I’m experiencing with God these last months. It goes beyond what I could imagine. I find myself in a new love for His Word, with better understanding about the Bible, with a growing passion for prayer. Praise the Lord for that! I feel like I’ve been saved a second time. It’s been truly an awakening period. Peace, joy, deeper than ever, more often than ever, deeper love for my family, deeper concern for those God has put around me, freedom from fear, from anxiety, and so forth. Of course, I still fail, I’m still me, but praise to God, that on a daily basis, He is taking over this wretched son and doing His work, for His glory. There is still plenty I need to grow, and learn, and live, but tonight, I know I am on the right path. He gave me His assurance. Tonight, as I conclude this text, I want to encourage you to seek Him with no reservations. Seek Him with strong desire and you will see that what He promised is true! Jump with both feet and you will find yourself in His arms. There is no better place to be. Praise the Lord, our God, our Savior, our Father!

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forever more.” Psalm 16:11

Starting this Tuesday, May 9th, 7pm, Paulo is leading our new Tuesday Prayer Gatherings. Join us as we grow, learn, seek, and jump with both feet into the arms of God.

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About the Author

Paulo Goldstein
Paulo Goldstein
Paulo, his wife Debora, and their two kids, are members of St. George's. Paulo gives leadership to our Tuesday Night Prayer gatherings.

Discussion About This: 1 comment

  1. Mike Bonnay says:

    Hey Paulo I met you at the wed morning prayer group,where & when is your group meeting

  • About the Author

    Paulo Goldstein
    Paulo Goldstein
    Paulo, his wife Debora, and their two kids, are members of St. George's. Paulo gives leadership to our Tuesday Night Prayer gatherings.
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