The Plane Ride Home – Testimony of God’s Grace by Benjamin Nye
I was raised in a Christian family, but from the time I was very young I remember always being terrified of God. Whenever I was in trouble or I did something I knew was wrong I used to go pray in tears begging God, “Please, please don’t send me to Hell for this. I’m so sorry and I’ll try really hard to be better”. As I grew older I still believed in God, but I gradually started losing hope that I would ever make it into heaven. I would go to church and listen to all the great teachings of the Bible and learn about the way Christians were supposed to live, but when I went to school I’d see everyone that I knew from church doing the exact opposite of everything we learned on Sunday. I thought to myself, “If this is the way Christians live, how is anybody supposed to get to heaven?”
When I started high school I gave up trying to be a good person entirely. I thought that as long as I didn’t hurt anyone what I did to myself was nobody else’s business. In the space of five years I experimented with tobacco, alcohol, vandalizing public property, trespassing, minor theft, sex, drugs, and who remembers what else? As far as anyone on the outside knew I was still a good Christian kid and I had a bright future ahead of me in college. After flipping my first truck on the drive home one weekend my parents started dropping me off at a weekly youth group at another church. One night I was there late waiting to get picked up when the youth pastor sat down and starting talking to me. For some reason I felt comfortable with him so I opened up about my life. He didn’t try to tell me that I was a sinner; instead he challenged me by asking, “is that the man you want to be for the rest of your life?” Something about what he said touched me deeply and I decided from that day on that I wanted to be different.
I still believed that most Christians were hypocrites, but I really liked the teachings of the Bible. I wasn’t sure if God was real or not, but I tried to live like the Bible told me to make myself a better person. However, one night I was out drinking with some friends and to make a long story short, I lied to my parents about where I was going and then rolled the truck my dad had let me borrow. Needless to say I was in the most trouble I had ever been in my life. I felt like this one event had ruined all the progress I’d made and all the other addictions I had quit. My life felt so pointless that I decided if God was real, then I needed to meet him or else all this is just pointless.
I signed up to do a six month Discipleship Training School with a group called Youth With A Mission. During this school I met a man who asked my name. I told him it was Benji and he asked if that was short for Benjamin, and then this is what he told me:
“Benjamin, I know that you feel like your life is a mess. You’ve messed up so many times that you’ve given up hope. You’ve talked yourself into believing that God is ashamed of you and doesn’t love you but that is a lie. The name Benjamin means Son of My Right Hand. God knows that you’re not perfect and he doesn’t expect you to be. God knows that you want to be different and that you want to know him and he is so proud of you”.
I had never met this guy, I had never seen him in my life, but everything that he said was true, and I was so moved by what he said that I sat down and wept my heart out.
In the months that followed I had people coming up to me every week telling me how proud of me God was and I had visions of Jesus picking me out of a crowd to honor me and tell me that he had great plans for my life. I was so on fire, I read the entire Bible in two and a half months. I learned that a Christian worldview “is immediately relevant to thoughtful people today. That is, it is both a vision of life and a vision for life” (Sire, 2004, p. 104). I prayed for a girl who had scoliosis and she was healed. I preached in churches on the other side of the world in Indonesia about love and forgiveness and about how God restores individuals and families. My life was completely transformed.
But then, I came home to find everything was exactly the same. I didn’t know how to live as the new me when it felt like everyone saw me exactly the same. I went back into YWAM lonely and depressed. For two months I struggled with thoughts of suicide. Then, after a long period of silence God spoke to me again. He told me that it didn’t matter how my family or my friends thought of me. No matter what he still loved me and he would never stop being proud of me.
Since then I’ve never looked back. Whatever people think of me or think about God I know that he is real and that he has a great plan for my life. In Jeremiah 29:11 the Bible says, “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (NIV).
I believe that absolute truth exists and the Bible is the source of that truth. I believe the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings. I believe that God created the universe and he still rules it. I believe that Satan is real, but Jesus lived a sinless life and then died for the salvation of the world. And as a Christian, I believe God wants me to tell the whole world about him (Phillips, Brown, & Stonestreet, 2008, p. 91).
Sometimes life is still hard and I don’t understand what God is doing, but I trust him, and I’m going to follow him wherever he leads.
Phillips, W. G., Brown, W. E., & Stonestreet, J. (2008). Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview (2 ed.). Salem, WI: Sheffield Publishing Company.
Sire, J. W. (2004). Naming the Elephant: Worldview as a Concept. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.