Monday, June 30, 2008

Testimony

I've been thinking for sometime about sharing my testimony of how I came to Christ, but wasn't sure when I should do it. I was going to share pictures of my home today but I think this is more important and the appropriate time.

As a young child when I was living in the south I heard about Jesus a lot, I guess a given growing up in the Bible Belt. I remember my aunt talking to me about Jesus when I was afraid of the dark. I spent a lot of time with my aunt as my mother was really struggling with alcoholism & my father had gone away for awhile due to the problems my mom was having.

When I was about 5 my dad came back............he saw the life my brother and I were living & decided it wasn't good. He took my brother and I to live up North where he had been living ,without my mother's knowledge or permission. It wasn't long until we were in court , my parent's fighting for custody. My father was awarded custody due to my mom's lifestyle.

My dad had married a women shortly after we started living with him. Life was good as I remember it, much different than what we were used to. Around the age of 9 my stepmother ran into a woman that she had known from years ago. This woman had become a born again Christian and invited us all to church. My step mom & dad didn't go to church with us but allowed us to go. So every Sunday & Wed. evening someone from church would take us to and from church. We were very involved in this church, going on retreats , etc.

I liked going to church but I remember always thinking that their was something unusual about it, even as a child. Often during Sunday morning services there was always the same woman that would stand up in the middle of the service and speak in tongues. Someone told me that was what she was doing. Services at this church always just seemed so loud and chaotic to me, as I was a very shy and reserved child.

When I was about 11 yrs old I went on a retreat with the girl's group I was in at church. It was an enjoyable time, swimming, playing putt putt, etc. In the evening after dinner we would all meet in a great big pavilion for church services. I remember the last night I was there. There was an alter call during that service for those wanting to be saved. It was all a whirlwind of emotion & noise & crying & it also had begun to storm at that point. I remember wanting to go up to the alter but was just too shy & also feeling like I wanted to because that was what everyone else was doing. To be honest I can't remember for sure if I became a Christian that night but I did remember coming home & telling my step mom & dad that I got saved, I don't know that I had a true understanding of it. However after that I do remember my thinking changing. I remember not wanting to talk like the rest of the kids my age did anymore. I wanted to be good.

Time went on and at the age of 13 my step mom & dad divorced. My dad was working second shift and my brother & I were home alone a lot by ourselves, we had stopped going to church. Needless to say being unsupervised we started to go wild......doing whatever we wanted pretty much. We were really heading down the wrong path doing things that were very dangerous & hanging around dangerous individuals. At 15 I met my now husband.....who was 3 years older than me. He surely wasn't an angel but once we started dating he didn't want to live the lifestyle he/we had been living anymore. I met his family and it wasn't long after meeting them I found out his mom was a Christian. The first Christian I had been around since I had stopped going to church. Her and I talked about salvation some and I told her I had been saved as a child. I went to her church often and even sat down with a pastor there and rededicated my life to Christ. Although I had an uneasy feeling about it all because I often doubted that I was saved even as a little child because I wasn't like those people I went to church with years ago. My salvation wasn't some huge emotional conversion......I wasn't jumping up in down in the aisles at church, speaking in tongues, etc. I didn't FEEL different & I still struggled with sin. I didn't have some great spiritual awakening. I was confused. I thought how could I be saved I'm nothing like these other people I had gone to church with as a child or like those that I had been meeting.

More time passed and at 18 my boyfriend and I married. I spent a lot of time regretting and crying over choices I had made in my life as a teenager. I often prayed and asked the Lord to forgive me and save me but I just could never come to a point of peace, believing I was truly saved. I visited different churches but never found one I felt comfortable in. I remember going to church with a friend from high school who had been recently saved. It was a Sunday evening service, so there weren't as many people there as a Sunday morning service. Well people were going up to the front of the church for prayer and I remember the pastor laying his hands on their heads, praying for them and then hitting them in the head ..... one by one they would fall to the floor. Oh my goodness! This was strange to me and I thought if this is what it's like being saved....I must not be saved! Not to mention, I was the only person sitting in the pews, everyone else was in the front of the church. Talk about sticking out like a sore thumb : ) To be honest I thought it was weird and I didn't want any part of it and at the same time I thought there was something wrong with me because I didn't want any part of it. This couldn't be the way a true Christian would think, would they?

I never talked to my husband about my struggles because he wasn't saved. So the years went by and we had children. Life was kind of lonely....I didn't have any friends and I had longed for one good friend that I could spend time with, someone like me, around my age and who had children. I prayed about that and you know the Lord brought me that friend. She was a Christian and an encouragement to me, even though I still doubted my salvation. I had LITTLE FAITH. But something changed that for me.........

In the years shortly after high school, I remember hearing from a childhood friend that had moved to Florida. She was telling me about a friend of ours from school who was only 22 & was diagnosed with melanoma. I was never close to this sick friend & I hadn't seen her or talked to her in a few years. I remember thinking to myself I'm supposedly a Christian even though I don't feel like one half the time, I need to tell her about Jesus because that's what the Bible says I should do. So I sent her a letter in the mail telling her about my salvation and that she can have that too. Boy I kind of felt like a fool/hypocrite, I wasn't qualified to be telling her about Jesus. So I left it at that, I did ask for prayer for her at a church I was visiting at the time.

Some time passed and I hadn't heard anything from her. It was summertime and this friend I told you about( the one the Lord brought to me ) invited me to go with her to the movies and dinner (a girls night out to celebrate her birthday) I hadn't been out with a friend since high school and I never went to the movies. Guess who I ran into at the movie theater? My friend from high school who had been diagnosed with melanoma. I didn't get to talk to her very long but I did ask her if she got my letter, she said she did. She was still struggling with cancer but wasn't feeling sick.

More time went by and I had heard through the grape vine she had opted out of treatments because the only treatments left that MIGHT be able to help her were torture and they kept her states away from her son. Fast forward a few years.........I hadn't heard anything about her and assumed she must have passed away .......I rarely even thought about her anymore. One night as I slept, I dreamt about her. I dreamt we were talking and I asked her if she still had cancer. She said no it was gone...she seemed happy. But I do remember in the dream seeing something strange on her neck. That's all I remember of the dream. The next morning I got up and started about my day, around 10 am the phone rang. It was my friend that lived in Florida( I hadn't spoke to her in long time either) who had told me about our friend having melanoma. She told me that our friend was not doing well, the doctors didn't give her much more time to live....maybe a few weeks. She also told me that this friend wanted to see her friends before she passed on/including me. Oh my goodness I was in awe of what was happening. I had never had God show me things in this way before. I can't help but think he showed me things the way he did out of love and mercy because he knew how LITTLE FAITH I had. How could I doubt Him after this? I knew without a doubt , what God wanted me to do and I couldn't believe he wanted ME to do it. I felt so unqualified..... I was a weak and sinful person with LITTLE FAITH, who doubted her own salvation......how could I lead my dying friend to the Lord?

I talked with the pastor of the church I was visiting at the time. He gave me a Bible to give to her and helped me go over scripture that would show her her need for a savior. He told me he would be praying at that time I was to be there. I have to admit I was scared to death.........would her family throw me out of the room, would she? Well I went to see her. Before her mom left the room to give us some time alone, she warned me not to upset her daughter. Oh boy that scared me even more but I knew what the Lord wanted me to do. It was hard to see her like she was ....very sick, & thin with a cancer growths on her neck . The pressure from the cancer growth was causing her to have vertigo, so she was having a hard time and cried a lot. I told her I wanted to share something with her, I got out the Bible the pastor had given me and I started to read the scripture to her that the pastor had suggested.

I can't remember the exact verse, it may have been " for the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Rom. 6:23.....when I got to the part " the wages of sin is death".....she began to get very upset. I asked her if she wanted me to stop. She said she was just so scared but she wanted me to keep reading. I could see she was hanging on to every word that I read. I told her that Jesus loved her and I knew it because he brought me there to tell her about Him. I asked her if any one had ever sat down and talked to her about Jesus before. She said no but she had received letters from people. We prayed together and she believed on the Lord Jesus that day. I told her it was okay now because when she died she would be with Jesus. She believed it. It was hard for her to get her words out but I knew what she meant when she touched her heart with her hand and said she felt better. She knew she would be in heaven with Him. I believe she was at peace and confident in her salvation. That was the last time I saw her. She went to be with the Lord just 3 days later.

I shared that whole story because I believe that was the point where I no longer doubted my salvation. God showed me that I was no different than this friend , who lived a wild lifestyle, like I had at one point. She had never done anything for the Lord, just like me. She was never good enough , just like me. She was a dirty sinner, just like me but he loved her anyway and wanted her to be with Him, just like He does me.

Conversion/Christianity doesn't have to be an emotionally high spiritual event , like I've seen in the churches I attended as a child and young adult. Although I am grateful for the truth they shared about Jesus Christ ..... I think these type of churches are dangerous, spiritually speaking. They leave people thinking that the Christian life always has to have some emotional/spiritual high & if you aren't experiencing these great things, well there is something wrong with you......you might not even be saved. There are ups and downs in the Christian life. Salvation is not an emotion/ a feeling after you believe . Salvation comes from the simple act of faith in Jesus Christ. All it takes is a LITTLE FAITH to come to the Lord Jesus and to witness HIS MIRACLES . Jesus DOES work around those who have LITTLE FAITH. I believe my testimony is proof of that. I'm just an ordinary and very blemished individual who's faith was not strong & at times is still lacking.

6 comments:

Nancy said...

Thanks for sharing! Amazing how God works and praise him for saving your friend. A lot of what you said reminded me of myself. I met my husband at 15, he is almost 3 years older, and we married when I was almost 18.

prov31rj said...

That's a powerful testimony. Thank you for sharing. You are so right about salvation not being related to our feeling. Much of the time I don't necessarily "feel" spiritual, but I believe on Him and what He did for me.

What a blessing that you were able to lead your friend to the Lord. Wonderful.

BTW, I met my dh when I was yound and in high school also. He is also three years older than me. We will celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary this year. :)

Buildeth Her House said...

Nancy & Prov31rj...........

I think it's neat that we have those things in common. I bet we are a like in alot of ways....that could be why I like reading your blogs.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness this is beautiful! I really appreciate how you address the emotional responses people make without really meaning it - just getting caught up in the flurry of it all. I like how you refused to do that and were honest in where you were at. I LOVE how God met you there in your honesty and made Himself real to you and used you to save a friend. Wow...that truly is a miracle. You are so blessed to have had such a visitation from God - such a clear direction from Him. This must have been the sweetest thing ever to be reassured by Jesus Himself that you did in fact belong to Him - that you are in fact His and that He will in fact use you for His glory. :) Thanks so much for sharing this story. I popped in earlier to read it and realized it was longer than I had time to give it. I waited till my kids went down for nap to read. I am glad I got to read it in the quiet. It really spoke to me.

Rebecca

Nancy said...

ya we probably do have more things in common. I'm sure we will notice more with time!

Mrs Amy said...

What a beautiful testimony, the part where you spoke about church being too out there for you really touched me, I was saved in a VERY charismatic church and attended them till I met and married my husband, although I went through the motions something always felt off or wrong. Now I go to an IFB church where the worship is focused on God and hymns of praise,not rock music and show. I feel at home.
Blessings
Amy