Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Personal Testimony

So, have you ever put your testimony, or story of how God changed you, down on paper before?  Maybe you have one of those stories where you know the hour and minute that your conversion happened.  Maybe you grew up in a Christian home and have always walked with God from a young age, growing deeper in relationship with Him over the years.  Or maybe the when and where of salvation in your life is hard to put a finger on - then you'd be just like me (or not)! 

We host a Christian Apologetics group in our home weekly throughout the school year where parents and children of all ages meet to learn how to answer some hard questions.  It's based on 100 questions, statements or definitions from the Apologetics category of the NCFCA (National Christian Forensics and Communications Association).  The kids working on "cards", or a presentation of each subject, range in age between 10 and 16, and we have "timers" who are as young as 7 years old.  The fathers (and church elders or deacons) in the group present teachings each week on a new topic for the kids to get a start for where to do their research.  And each week they ask if anyone would like to share their testimony.  For almost a year now I've been trying to get my story figured out enough to write in out (so it's intelligible and not rambling) in order to be able to share it with the group.  Well, it was crunch time as yesterday was our last meeting of the year and the parents had been instructed that instead of the kids giving their cards, the parents would share their testimonies.  

Gulp!  I'd better get mine done!  So, after lots of prayer and several people listening to my (almost) whole story and giving some great feed back about some theological questions I had about salvation (can one walk in rebellion and still be 'saved'? etc.), I finally got it down on paper.  After that I only had to get it typed (in the last 10 minutes before our meeting!).  Now, fully typed up and already shared, I thought maybe I'd share it here for you all to read.  I would like to say that for those who know me very well or for very long will see that I left a lot out of this story, but I hope that I've portrayed a real picture of the rebellious and hopeless periods in my life without all the gory details.  This, after all is an overview, meant for a "G-rated" audience.

Without further adieu, here's my testimony:

Who here likes a story with a happy ending?  Me too!  You know, I think there is something built into every one of us that longs for good things.  But every good story always has its moments where there’s that tension and you wonder if good can really triumph over evil after all. 

Well, I know one of those kinds of stories.  Would you like to hear it?  Yes?

Once up on a time there was a little girl who was told about Jesus and His great love for her, how He gave up His perfect life for her very own sins.  How sorry she was for those sins that caused Him to die, and she asked Him to come take away her sin, make her clean.  Oh!  What a joy it was then for her to sing “Jesus Loves Me” and know deep within just how very true it was.

But this little girl didn’t live in a home where her parents taught her what it meant to love and follow Jesus.  She lived in a home where she was taught to only believe the things she could see or hear or feel or touch or taste.  Those were the only REAL things – you know, the thinks that science could prove.  She was also taught that if she believed in spiritual or religious things, well… that was just in spite of the facts, so, it was really like believing in a fairy-tale.  But, even with this training at home and in school, a small part of her heart never gave up believing in Jesus, though at times it was almost overwhelmed.

Well, this little girl grew up, and as she grew, she began to openly rebel against her parents, against what her conscience told her was right, against what she had first learned of God’s laws for His children.  Her life was being filled with dark, angry and hurtful things.  She eventually got married, had children, lived what looked like the American Dream, and even went to church on Sundays.  But, her heart was still angry and hurt and full of pain.  Sometimes she wondered where all the joy of her childhood had gone. But, mostly she just trudged on, trying to do things right and then always failing.

Then one day she decided to take a class that taught her some very important things she had never heard before.  It taught her that she had been wrong!  She learned that there really was evidence for believing in God and His Son Jesus, that the Bible really was trustworthy.  And you know what?  She started to feel joy again, a tiny bit at first, but ever so slowly it grew.  Hard things happened in her life, and though she had learned that God was trustworthy, the habit of trusting in herself and things of this world for strength was still strong.  And gradually the joy in her life was being squelched again, and though she could feel it happening , she didn’t know what to do.  So, she kept on doing the normal things – cooking, cleaning, teaching, living, but she felt dried up inside and she wondered if there could ever really be joy for her heart that would last.  More hard things happened in her life and she got angry again.  But this time she decided to tell God about it.  So she drove off to the mountains to a quiet place near a river and she told God just how angry she was, how much she hurt, and how much she wanted His joy.  Then she just gave up.  She told God she didn’t want to rely on herself or anything else anymore.  She just wanted to trust in Him and His strength.  She surrendered.  And peace entered her heart.  Joy began to fill her up to overflowing.

That was 658 days ago and I’ve never been the same since!

God began His miracles in my life long ago, when I was that young little girl.  He made me alive and gave me the gift of faith in Him.  And He preserved that faith in me even throughout my years of rebellion, pride, selfishness and confusion.  In His infinite grace and love, He is changing me more and more into what He’s calling us all to be, to be conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.  He’s been working miracles in my life over the years, but in really obvious and amazing ways of the past 658 days.  He’s changed my heart to where I really want to obey Him.  He’s shown me what I was designed for (a wife and mother) and how to really love my family and obey my husband (still a work in progress there!).  I have joy and peace even when things aren’t easy.  And maybe one of the biggest areas in which He’s changed my thinking is in regards to children – what a blessing they are and how big a responsibility it is to train them up for God.  Second biggest change is in truly desiring to submit to my husband in all things!

I have watched my husband step out and begin to lead our family.  I have watched rebellion be replaced with love.  I’ve seen my oldest son transformed.  I’ve watched as joy grew in my youngest son.  I’ve discovered myself letting go of things I’ve always tried to control – and found joy in it all!  [If you had really known me years ago, you wouldn’t recognize me now.]  There has been so much good change in my life, yet I’m not finished changing, it’s an ongoing thing.

Someday though, for those who trust in Jesus, our transformation will be complete – all the old habits, sins, and struggles will fall away like broken chains and we will be truly free to enjoy God forever!

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