Until yesterday, I didn't think I had a testimony. It seems silly now, but there wasn't a big life changing experience or a flash of lightning. After some reflection, I don't think that testimonies have to be that way. Some are big and exciting and "flashy" and then there is the rest of us. Normal everyday people. With normal everyday stories.
I was raised in the church by Christian parents. We went to church most Sunday's (unless someone was sick or we were out of town) and Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. In High School, I joined the Youth Group and got very involved there with activities and work/mission trips. Then college... I didn't do as well. I didn't completely walk away from God, but I am pretty sure I didn't follow the path that He had planned for me. Looking back, I know that God was with me even though I wasn't seeking Him. He put people in my life that were strong Christians and they were a good influence on me when everything else was so bad. I tried attending church there and did a few times, but it never became habit and it was so easy to just sleep in.
After college, I moved back home. I went back to church with my family and was welcomed with open arms and even taught Confirmation that year. Shortly after moving home, I met my husband and while we were dating, we often attended church. Either his or mine. Looking back at that time, I see now that I still wasn't following God. I did my best and fooled a lot of people including myself. Maybe it wasn't fooling, but ignorance on my part.
Life went on. I went to church on Sunday and I did my own thing the rest of the week. I thought that was enough. I had the label "Christian". I had accepted Jesus. I knew right from wrong (in my own mind). I tried to be a good person, helping others, not stealing or killing. What more was there?
This season lasted about seven years. During that time, I almost completely quit going to church. Things did not really start to change until I was trying to get pregnant for the first time. Typical of the season I was in, I didn't turn to God until I needed Him. I was fine on my own, until a crisis appeared. Then, I treated God like my personal Genie. I went through tests and took fertility medication, until I couldn't live with the side effects any longer. A month later, I was pregnant. I would like to say that I had turned to God and said, "You are bigger and You know what is best. I surrender my life to you." But, I didn't. I thanked God and moved on.
But, I began thinking (or rather, God placed it on my heart and I finally started to listen) that I needed more. I wanted my child to have a good foundation. I wanted to give my baby the good morals that I had been given. In my heart, I knew there was something to the "whole church thing", I just didn't know what it was. I began "church shopping". I tried several local churches and decided on the one that was the most comfortable. I got involved with the Children's ministry and made some great friends. We stayed there for almost three years, until the church changed and I no longer felt comfortable. I took a step back to analyze the changes.
On Thanksgiving morning of 2008, I was getting ready to go to dinner at my parents house. I had the TV on for news and background noise. Joyce Meyer came on and that is when things really changed for me. I don't remember what she said exactly, but I was at that point I realized there was something more to church than "religion". That was the turning point for me, I began to find my own faith. For so long, I was living on what my parents said or the way they raised me. It wasn't until I really started doing it for me that I was able to understand what so many others already had and what God wants for all of us. I began to read my Bible, although I didn't understand it, and we found a new church.
The new church has made a huge difference. I am really being fed the word! I didn't realize how hungry I was until I heard someone who really spoke to me. I also joined a women's Bible study. That has been a big step for me and really encouraged me in my daily walk. I enjoy reading the Bible and reading books that take me deeper in the word. I love being around Christian women who share the same values and beliefs that I do. I miss it when I am not there and have made it a priority in my schedule.
Everyday, I work at being more open about my faith and my Savior. Throughout my life, I hid my faith and beliefs (and still do to some extent) from others out of fear of rejection. What I didn't understand is that our choices are either good or bad. So, fear of rejection from people caused me to reject God. I should have feared Him more than people. I am getting better at it, and stepping out on faith more than ever before. I am trying to be open with my children, so that they will learn that God's opinion is much more important than people's opinion. I am trying to teach them that their faith is not something to hide or be ashamed of. As the women of my Bible studies have taught me, it is in the sharing that we grow.
Those who have known me for a while can appreciate that this blog was a big, scary step. I don't really know where this is all going- meaning the blog. I just felt like this was the direction that He was leading me. I have never been a writer, but it seems like He is using me for something. My wonderful and supportive Mom recently told me, "you don't need to know why, you just need to obey and trust in Him who always knows".
That is the cool thing about God! He is not normal or everyday. He is creative and exciting and unexpected. When we follow Him, our lives are that way too. Looking back, I see that His fingerprints are all over my life! This is not really my story it is our story.
1 Kings 19:11-12 (New Living Translation)
11 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.
Lord, I am a sinner. On my own, I am not good enough to come into your presence. I believe that Jesus died on the cross to save me from my sins. I believe that he rose and ascended into heaven. Through my belief in Jesus I am able to come to you at the throne. Thank you Abba, that you were faithful when I was fickle. Thank you for pursuing me when I turned away. Thank you for loving me when I was unloveable. Amen.