The Testimony of a Wretched Man

The Testimony of a Wretched Man
Wretched Man That I Am!, an illustration by Grace Ellen Schiel. Used with permission.

My name is Josh Lachapelle, I’m 22, and this is my story.  The testimony of a wretched man.

I, like many, had grown up in church as a kid, hearing the typical Bible stories, going to Sunday School and such. I never really thought much of it, just being a kid. I thought they were very interesting stories, but I can’t say I thought anything beyond that. I always knew God had to exist, cause it was the only thing that ever made sense. Theories like the “Big Bang” or Evolution, or whatever else, just never made sense to me.

When I hit my early teenage years, I stopped going to church, stopped caring about anything to do with God, and just lived my own life. I was a rebel towards my parents, I developed a bad mouth, for a chunk of my teenage years I smoked cigarettes and pot, drank frequently, blasphemed, and other various things of those sorts. I think it’s safe to say that I’ve broken every single one of the 10 Commandments, multiple times, and in more than one way. I was the worst of the worse.  I’ve hated, lusted, committed adultery, lied, stolen, blasphemed, swore countless times, the list goes on and on.

Now, that being said, as bad as I was, I didn’t think I was as bad as the rest of the world. I mean, I always had some level of morality, that I figured was above the average person in the world. I always cared for people, and never liked to see people hurting, things like that. So hey, I couldn’t be THAT bad, right? I mean after all, I wasn’t doing things as bad as some people! Was I ever wrong. . .

So for years, all of my teenage years, I lived that way.  Just going on, living my life, without a care about God or anything to do with God. Whenever people tried talking to me about God (especially my Mom, who has been praying for me for countless years), I gave a cold shoulder, I didn’t care, didn’t want to hear it, and shut them out completely. I believed God was real, at times I thought about it and I knew I didn’t want to end up in Hell, yet I didn’t care, I was cold and hard hearted to the things of God. In one way I hated how immoral and twisted the world is, yet I was part of it.

October 31st, Halloween night, at 11:30 P.M., a date and time I’ll never forget. I was in bed, listening to some music, just like any other night. But I just so happened to be listening to a Christian rock band I hadn’t listened to in years. The song I was listening to, I had heard multiple times before, but this time, when they sang this line, “I’m at war with the world cause I, ain’t never gonna sell my soul, I’ve already made up my mind, no matter what I can’t be bought or sold.” Then the line, “I’m awake, I’m alive, now I know what I believe inside. . .” Suddenly, out of no where, all these thoughts started piling into my mind at once. Thoughts like, “if I hate how immoral and twisted the world is so much, why am I being a part of it?!” Then the sudden realization of “I’m so filthy, so twisted myself!” And then, “I’ve broken God’s Law, I’ve sinned against Him, and I’m doomed, I’m headed straight for Hell!” One after another, all these thoughts just started piling into my mind, to the point it overwhelmed me, I realized how much of a wretched, twisted, broken, evil, sinner I was, how doomed I was without God, how without His grace I wouldn’t even be breathing, and so I just broke down.

I cried so hard, with the realization that I’ve broken God’s holy Law, that I’ve sinned against the God of the Universe, the God who gave me life! What a wretched sinner, what a wretched man! How could I have done something so horrible?! I cried out to God for mercy and forgiveness. I didn’t just ask, I begged, I pleaded! I was on Hell’s doorsteps, I was hanging by a thread, dangling, within a split second, I could be dead, and in Hell! I didn’t want that! I didn’t want to be an enemy of God, I wanted to be on God’s side, not the world’s!

So I cried out to Him, begging for His forgiveness and mercy. I told God, I didn’t want to live this way any more, I didn’t want to live for the world, and against Him! What’s the point in that?! Matthew 16:26 says “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” I realized that. What good is it, if I please myself, gain the world, do everything that’s satisfying to my flesh, yet burn in Hell for eternity over it? That’s not worth it! I was sick of being a part of something I hated; immorality. I begged God, to forgive me, to change me, and that I knew there was NO way I was doing this on my own, that it’d only be by His grace that I’d be able to change! I told God, I wanted to serve Him, I wanted to do what’s right in His eyes, what’s pleasing to Him, and not to myself. I wanted to live for Him alone. Not for me, for the world, or for anyone else but Him. If I were to die for the name of Christ, I was willing. Because at that point forward, nothing has mattered more than Him.

I cried out for nearly an hour, feeling so desperate, so ashamed, so dirty, so wretched, so broken, so helpless, in such intense need of a Savior. Begging God to change me, knowing it’d only be by His grace, and with His help, that I’d be saved, and able to change. It then felt like a huge weight was then lifted off my shoulders. Like I was saved, like I was born again, like I was forgiven! Matthew 11:28-30 says: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Part of me wondered, is this really real, have I actually been saved?! Well the next few days would prove so. Certain bad habits were broken, my bad mouth, which I used to barely be able to say one sentence without swearing was now gone! I found myself replacing those bad words with other things that weren’t vulgar, and it seemed to come so naturally! My views changed, I didn’t want to live for myself any more, pleasing myself, I wanted to live for God, pleasing Him! I didn’t want to do anything that would displease God in anyway. I had new desires, I was made a “new creation.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 says: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

Suddenly I had such an intense urge to read God’s Word, The Bible. All these stories and phrases I heard growing up, suddenly came to life and made so much sense! God opened my eyes, turned on the light, and truly saved me. I couldn’t believe the changes in me. I couldn’t believe how much of God’s Word I was actually understanding!

Since that day, I’ve been growing more and more in my faith. I’ve read  God’s Word every day without fail, not cause I feel obligated, but because I actually want to! Every day I pray that God continues to grow me, sanctify me, continue to give me the desires of His heart, and let His will be done in my life, rather than my own. Every day I also pray that He’ll use me for His purpose and will, and that He’ll continue to give me such deep understanding and wisdom of His Word, so I can walk according to truth, and nothing else. He’s been kind enough to grant me much of these things, and not a day goes by that I don’t thank Him. I have so much to learn yet, so much that’ll take a life time, and even eternity to really grasp and comprehend, but I’m so grateful God’s been showing me the truth of His Word, and giving me understanding of it so fast. All I desire is for the truth, to understand it, to know it, to know Him more and more each day. It’s a miracle that God would save someone like me, someone who was such a corrupt, evil, wicked, twisted, sinner. God demonstrates His love and kindness by saving people who don’t deserve it. Which in reality, no one deserves it.

The fact is, if you’ve lied even once, even a white lie, you’ve broken God’s law. If you’re not saved, answer these questions, and be honest with yourself. Have you ever lied? Even a small one. If you have that would make you a liar. Have you ever stolen anything irrespective of it’s value? Simply taking something that didn’t belong to you? If you have that would make you a thief. How about using God’s name in vain, have you ever done that? If so that’s called blasphemy, and it’s very serious. It’s taking the name of the God who gave you life, and using it as a curse word to express filth or disgust. Now here’s the one that gets a lot of guys, even girls. Jesus said in Matthew 5:27-28: ““You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery. 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Have you ever looked at someone with lust? If so you’re an adulterer at heart. If you’re like me, and you answered yes to all 4 questions, you’d be considered a liar, a thief, a blasphemer, and an adulterer at heart, and that’s only FOUR of the Ten Commandments!

As loving and kind as God is, He’s also very holy and just, and must punish guilty sinners. If you died right now, and God judged you by those standards, do you think you’d be innocent or guilty? Well if you’ve broken His Law, that should mean you’re guilty right? So where should God send a guilty sinner, Heaven or Hell? Just like a guilty criminal goes to jail, a guilty sinner would be sent to Hell. It’s a harsh reality. Well, maybe you don’t believe in all this God stuff, maybe you say it’s not real. Let me give you a couple analogies to ponder. If you look at your house, how do you know someone built it? Well it’s common sense of course! A building needs a living, breathing being; a human, to build it. It obviously can’t built itself! Well the same thing works with the world/universe and God. The world couldn’t have just appeared, or came from carbon and chemicals, or a Big Bang, or whatever other theory you may believe in. There had to have been a living, breathing being; God, who created it all. Nothing can’t create something. It’s just not possible. Maybe you say, well where did God come from? Well, He’s God, He is, was, and always will be. It makes a lot more sense to say God was always there, who created the world, than to say carbon and chemicals came from no where and somehow made this very complex, intelligently designed, world we live in.

Maybe your argument is that, well I can’t see God, therefore He must not exist. So let me give you yet another analogy. If I were to strongly believe gravity weren’t real, because I don’t believe in it and can’t see it, would that change it’s reality? I mean after all, I can’t see it. If I walked off a 6 story building, I’d hit that ground just like anyone else. Even if I yelled “see I told you it’s not real!” while flying past the 2nd story. Just cause I didn’t hit the ground the split second I walked off, doesn’t mean it wasn’t real. Fact is, a few seconds later I’d hit the ground just like anyone else would. Not believing in God won’t make Him any less real. We’re all going to face God when we die, just because He’s patient right now, doesn’t mean He’s not there. He’s not willing that any should perish, but those who die in their sins will have to face God’s wrath and punishment, and that’s a very scary thought.

Romans 1:18-32 tells us that NONE are without excuse. Mark 10:18 tells us no one is good but God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 tells us that no fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. Jesus says in John 14:6 ““I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” In the beginning of Luke 13 we’re told unless we repent we will likewise perish. We’re told over and over again, in order to be saved, we must repent and put full trust in the Savior, who is Jesus Christ.

Jesus was born fully man, yet fully God. He lived a perfect, sinless life, the life neither you or I could achieve. He was then beaten and whipped so bad He was not even recognizable as a human being! He was mocked, spat on, had a crown of thorns smashed onto His head (these are not little thorns, these are long thorns), and finally He was nailed to a cross, with a sign above His head which read “This Is Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” He took the full weight of our sins upon Himself on that cross, being a living sacrifice for our sins. We violated God’s Law, we are the liars, thieves, blasphemers, adulterers, fornicators, and more. Yet Jesus paid our price. Wow.  Romans 5:6-11 talks about how Christ died for guilty sinners. Verse 8 says: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” And that’s exactly what Christ did. He suffered for our sins, He took the weight of our sins upon Himself. So that we could be free, if we simply repent, and put full trust in Him and not in ourselves. But that’s not it! He was then raised from the dead on the third day, conquering and defeating death and sin, and He now sits at the right hand of the Father.

So if you aren’t saved, please think about these things. It’s so very important. You never know when you’ll die. 150,000 people die every single day, and you could be next. Don’t wait to repent and put full trust in the Savior. Tomorrow is never promised, the next hour isn’t even promised.  If you sincerely repent and put full trust in Christ, you’ll have the price Jesus paid credited to your account, having your slate wiped clean, you’ll be forgiven, made a new creation, and given new desires which will want to do what’s pleasing in your Creator’s eyes.  If you’re not saved, I hope and pray God uses my story to save you yourself! And if you are already saved, then I hope and pray somehow God uses this to inspire and encourage you!  Romans 7:24-25 “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!. . .”

Now, go and serve your King!

– Josh Lachapelle, a wretched man saved by a merciful, loving, and holy God