Finding Life's Highest Value
Life in Czechoslovakia under a socialist regime (during the‘70s and‘80s) was not easy. People could not say freely what they thought without being persecuted in different ways. Often they and their children were not allowed to study, or they were denied jobs which corresponded with their education. Sometimes they were interrogated by police and even put into prison. People could not travel abroad except to other socialist countries, and the TV and radio only broadcast lies about how the socialist regime was good while the capitalist regime was bad. On top of that, religion was considered evil or at least foolish. Only weak or insane people believed in God—so the propaganda said.
My family was one of those who did not swallow the propaganda, but did not believe in God either. However, my parents did their best to instill good moral values into my sister and me. They did not agree with the lies around them and tried to raise us in the best way possible. But my childhood was not a very happy one.
From birth, I struggled with serious health problems. Several times I had to be hospitalized—causing me to live in constant fear that something else would go wrong with my body.
In spite of my poor health, I tried to be a good student at school and do what I was told by my parents or teachers. Yet doing this didn’t make me feel happy or satisfied. Even as a young child, I struggled with questions about my purpose and the meaning of life. Nobody was able to give me satisfactory answers. My mom was a great support for me— especially as far as my health issues were concerned—but in general, I just had to deal with my questions on my own.
My quest for truth culminated when I was at the university. I became seriously ill again and had to have surgery, from which I almost didn’t pull through. This relapse left me wondering if this was all life was about—disease, pain, fear, feelings of unhappiness, and lack of satisfaction. I didn’t want to believe that there was nothing more—that people were simply born, lived their lives in pain, and died.
At the time of my university studies, the so-called Velvet Revolution took place in my country. It was called “Velvet” because it happened so smoothly. People could not stand the oppressive regime any longer and began to peacefully demonstrate against it. The number of these demonstrations and other antiregime activities culminated in November, 1989, when the socialist regime collapsed in Czechoslovakia, as well as in other Central and Eastern European countries. Finally, people could experience freedom! As a part of this major change in our government, churches could come out of illegality. And, immediately, the country was flooded by missionaries from abroad bringing good news to people who had never before heard it.
One of my school friends at the university turned out to be Catholic. I began to ask her questions about God. Several times I went to church with her, but it all seemed to me too impersonal. I didn’t know when to stand up, when to sit down, or when to cross myself. Though I saw much good in the church and I respected their traditions, it didn’t seem the right way for me. Then later I found out about a Bible Study held by the Adventist Church, and decided to attend. This course helped me to learn about the Bible, what it is about, what the different books speak about, etc. It taught me about doctrine—which was good, but, again, it didn’t seem enough. Later, I found out that another school friend was a Christian, attending a protestant church. Shortly after the Velvet Revolution, this particular church began to teach a Christian Foundations course, and my friend invited me to participate in the study. In the meantime, I had begun to read different booklets about how to become a Christian, what it means to be a Christian, who is Jesus, what He did for us, and how we can respond to Him. All of these were like “pieces of a puzzle” which led me to realize my sinfulness on one hand and my helplessness on the other. I knew I was not able to change my situation on my own. I knew I needed help, and the one who could help me had to be someone bigger than me—bigger than a mere human being. Finally, I came to realize that the only way out of my trouble was Jesus! He was the living Son of the only God who came to give His life for me so that I could live for God. So one day I knelt down and told Him I wanted Him to take over my life.
Nothing in my life visibly changed immediately, but I knew I was saved for eternity. I was really hungry for the things of God, so I decided to enroll in a Bible University that was founded in our country by American missionaries. I spent three years there, immersed in the Word of God, learning about the Bible and different biblical doctrines. I was getting to know God—His ways, love, forgiveness, grace, and goodness. Over time, my health began to get better. My attitudes began to change. And the inner pain I felt stemming from my past began to heal.
After graduating, I was able to acquire several different jobs using my English language skills which had improved a great deal at the Bible University—thanks to the presence of the American missionaries. In 2000, I began working as a translator and interpreter for various Christian organizations and churches. I really love doing this type of work, but the flip side is that I never know if I will get enough work to support myself. This situation, however, has taught me to rely fully on God and His provision. He has always provided the right work for me at the right time—although sometimes at the very last minute! I know He will always take care of my needs—because He is faithful!
I am grateful God found me and let me put my trust in Him. I believe that having a personal relationship with God is life’s highest value. Life is not always easy, but God has answered many of my prayers. When my dad was at the brink of death after an artery ruptured, I prayed, and he was miraculously healed. Yet some of my prayers have not been answered—at least, not yet. In spite of life’s hardships and unmet expectations, I would not swap my life with God for an easier journey without Him.
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).