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Experiencing God’s Love

I was baptized on August 14, 1993, after Dale Leamon’s Christian meetings. We went there for evening meetings, and he and other Americans from his team taught us. It was the first time I ever heard about God, as God had been a forbidden topic in this country. Yet, I knew that God existed and that He loved me as nobody could ever love anybody because I had heard His voice.

Who Are You?

On the evening before first attending the meetings, I went home from my job, thinking of nothing special. I had a special feeling as if someone loved me. It was a pleasant warmth that filled my whole body. I thought in my mind: “Who are you?” I was not married at that time, and I thought that it had to be a girl. Then I remembered some of my past girlfriends and wondered if this feeling was about one of them. But no, none of them had ever been able to love me like this. Whatever it was, I wanted to be with that love. So I said, “Your love is so wonderful. I want to be with you and only with you, and I will never leave you. I will look for you and I will find you and will stay with you forever. Who are you?”

Then, I heard the answer (not a voice, but a clear understanding in my mind). “It is I, God.”

I was puzzled because I did not want God to be my friend. What I wanted was a woman for friendship and marriage. I did not want God to be near with His “limitations” and “enforcements.”

Bargaining With God

At the same time, I did not want to be responsible for a breach of God’s desire to be with me. So I said to Him: “Do not love me, as I have done nothing to deserve your love; I am a bad man” (though I thought I was good, I just said it for the Lord to leave me). And God said, “I know you. I know everything. But I love you as you are.” Now, I knew that God knew everything about me, every hair on my head.

Still, I told God, “No. Do not love so much. Love me half as much, or even less.” God said, “I can’t love half. I love only with full force.”

I still struggled: “Do not love me every day. Love me one day a week, or even less. And all the other times, I will rest from your love.”

God said, “I love you! I love you every moment of your life, and I will always love, and I will love you with all My might because I am God.”

Filled With God’s Love

And there I stood, a miserable human who a moment before was trying to make God guilty for the breach I planned myself. I was won. I was completely conquered by God’s great love. So I confessed before God, “Father, here am I. I am a bad man, forgive me. What a miserable man I am, trying to make you guilty, bargaining with you. I am yours.” My body was filled with such a wonderful warmth I could not move. I stood still while tears gathered in my eyes and ran down my cheeks. People do not understand when grown men cry in the streets, so I turned from the people to face the trees of a terrace.

The next day my colleague invited me to the meetings “to listen to lively English.” So, I went, and then much later I learned that that evening the American Seventh-day Adventist Christians who had come to our Siberian town prayed for the Holy Spirit to touch the hearts of the inhabitants of the town. I was an answer to their prayer. After those meetings, 192 people were baptized.

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Written by Basil Byvalts

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