“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
I am Maiko, and this passage led me to believe in Christ.
I started to believe in God right around the time when I gave birth to my daughter in Canada. At the time, my partner and I did not get along, he hurt me often, and did not help out with the pregnancy at all. I had no help because I did not have any Japanese friends and did not know God’s teachings. Every day was tough and agonizing. It was about that time that an organization called “I’m Not Alone” reached out to me. This organization offered me used baby clothes, gave me tips on how to raise my child, and took care of me during and after my pregnancy. They also offered something similar to counselling as they would listen to my concerns. Around that time, Linda, one of the members of the organization told me about a church that was near by and gave me a Bible. Although I had been to church a few times since arriving in Canada, it was not because I believed in God, but rather because I was curious and because my friends were going.
Although my partner and I separated after I gave birth, I constantly blamed myself saying, “How could I have possibly chosen someone who was so helpless? Did I make a mistake giving birth? How am I going to support myself in the future?” I thought to myself, “I am such a haphazard, stupid woman for giving birth to a baby outside of marriage.” Linda said, “God will forgive you, even if you can’t forgive yourself. Even if no one else forgives you, God will always be by your side and will forgive all of your wrongdoings. If God will forgive you, why would you need anyone else’s forgiveness?” In this moment I felt God’s mercy for the first time and cried. Although I had never really read the Bible deeply, I felt God’s mercy. I soon began to study the Bible, and upon reading the passage mentioned above, I became a Christian. Since then, whenever I have run into problems, I always look for answers in the Bible’s teachings. Through God’s mercy I have gained peace, and by following God’s Word, my life has completely transformed.
Before this, if someone mentioned that they were a Christian, I would look down on them thinking, “You actually believe in God? Why?” But now things are different. When I heard from Rob about a church in Hitachi where I lived after returning to Japan, I thought that I would go. God was present even when I was changing jobs. I had thought of quitting my previous job many times because it made me too busy, but I did not quit because I had faith that God was going to give me a sign of when I should resign. Then one day my boss decided to take maternity leave and said, “You should probably resign now.” There could not have been a clearer sign for me, so I decided to submit my notice of resignation. I ended up applying for a new job before my resignation date and was accepted, which allowed me to transition into my current job without being unemployed. My current work environment is wonderful. Even when I am not in control of things, my life has become much smoother as a Christian.
There is another passage that I really like.
“Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?… For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:25, 32-34
Someone once summed up this passage to me using a short phrase. They said, “Believing God is like surrendering yourself to the flow of a river.” I cannot remember who said this to me, but I always remember this when I am going through a rough patch. Instead of worrying, I am able to think, “If I leave it up to God, He will lead me where He wants me to be.” Without God I was alone and extremely sad. However, now I constantly feel God’s presence within me, and I do not feel sad or fretful because I believe that He will protect me. I also believe that God has given me to this opportunity to get baptized.
I thank God who has given me the opportunity to learn about His teachings and follow His commandments. I pray that I would continue to trust in God’s power, follow His commands, and that He would lead me as I continue surrender myself up to Him.