My name is Olivier Bagnoud and I was born in Switzerland. I want to share with you a life changing experience I had 20 years ago which transformed my bitterness into joy.
At the age of 22, I was a very successful student attending the Swiss Federal Institute for Science in Zurich. I had everything going for me and I had all I needed to be happy. But ironically it was the darkest period in my life! It seemed as though nothing made sense and that my life was absolutely without significance.
Experimenting with Hinduism, Buddhism, and various New Age practices I sought to bring meaning to my life but none of them could fill the emptiness I felt inside. Without understanding why I plummeted into desperation and could see no way out.
One day while I was in my parent’s bedroom I saw a book sitting on the table, the title of which caught my attention: “Power in Praise”. I picked it up and started reading. Using examples from realistic yet tragic life situations the author, through the light of Biblical revelation, explained how giving praise to God had revolutionized the life of many people. He taught that by acknowledging and accepting difficulties in our lives e.g.illness or a catastrophe and by praising God during such difficulties you permit God to act in your favor and to give you exactly what you most need. This attitude of praise helps to realize God's purpose for your life. Encouraged by this teaching I began to praise God in my situation of despair. Day after day I praised him and tried to thank him for all the details of my life. And gradually a change took place in my heart.
About two weeks later unexplainably, the discomfort that lived in me for months had been replaced with a sense of joy.
I remember very vividly one occasion when I realized that something inside me had changed. I was walking down the university steps and I jumped the last few steps but I landed badly on my right ankle and suddenly I felt such an excruciating pain. Surprisingly, however, the first thing that came to my mind was to thank God for this accident and despite the agonizing pain a feeling of peace and of joy invaded my heart so much so that I found myself praising God and thanking him for his love. I suffered a pulled ligament and was told not to use the foot for 20 days.
This situation, however, pushed me to accept an invitation to participate in a retreat. During this retreat I was struck by the moments of prayer because everyone praised God out loud in a free and easy way and with such a profound expression of faith that it touched me very deeply. But the crucial moment for me was when they invited those who wanted to receive Jesus into their hearts to come forward.
I stood up and went to kneel in front of the altar: I decided to acknowledge Jesus as my Savior and invited him to rule over my life as my only Lord.
While the asssembly prayed for me, all of a sudden, I was touched by the inexpressible presence of the Lord, and falling to the ground in sobbing cries I found myself unable to control my emotions. Jesus Christ was so real that I could feel His presence. As I couldn’t stop crying, I asked the Lord “What is happening?” I heard a voice telling me “I love you! I love you! I love you! ” I knew it was Jesus speaking to my heart.
When I got up I was no longer the same. An uncontainable joy had invaded my heart. I knew that God loved me and that the purpose of my life was to respond to his love with thanksgiving and to do whatever I could to help others encounter him and experience his amazing love.
This experience happened on the evening of January 26th, 1991 and it was the beginning of a great adventure of faith characterized mainly by praising God and by giving joyful thanks for every detail of my life.
The same Jesus is knocking right now at the door of your heart. Invite Him into your life and ask Him to set you free from all your burdens. You will never be the same.