Yesterday at Church we had a celebration service which included baptisms. As I sat listening to the testimonies I couldn't get over how no one could quite explain how their life had changed. They obviously had become better people... but they just couldn't put into words the inward change that resulted in Joy and Peace. I love it! I love that God gives us something SO amazing that we can hardly explain it! Later in the afternoon I went on a walk with a new friend and we started talking a little bit about how we came to really love Christ and I could not truly explain all that went down and how my life miraculously changed. But I have felt the desire to share my testimony here for quite a while... so though I have a small vocabulary and my writing technique isn't quite the best, I am going to do it! May God be glorified through my story and stir the hearts that are sitting on the fence or completely on the other side.
Like many people from around here (small town Central IL) I grew up in a loving Christian family. We went to church every Sunday, my older sisters attended youth group and I attended AWANA and VBS. Most of my friends growing up were church friends. Living in a generally "Christian" town I was constantly bombarded by Bible stories or moral lessons. You would think this would be the end of my story. I was in love with Jesus from the moment I was able to understand who He was... unfortunately that's not how it happened. Though my family was amazing and loving we were all still human. There were times where fights broke out and stony silence took over the house. During these times I would get SO angry with God. My life would be all rainbows and sunshine and then do a complete 180. I couldn't understand how there was a loving God that was in control of all of this. It seemed like such a lie. However, at the age of 7 I "gave my life to Christ." In all honesty I wanted my dad to say a prayer at dinner time so that everyone focused on me the rest of the night. It was all about the attention I would get and nothing about knowing what Jesus had done for me. The next ten years is pretty much a blur of living for myself. There would be times where I would think about God and at least some what realize I needed Him... but that feeling went away as soon as the T.V. came on or a friend called. I just really didn't care. Sure I thought God was awesome when life was going good. But I still didn't care enough to thank Him or get to know Him. But as soon as the tables turned and something went south I was very quick to let Him know exactly how I felt. I remember running into my room when things went bad and considering throwing my Bible right through the glass of my window, That would show God!!! I even wrote in my journal once that I saw God as a bored and cruel creator that made us just so He could toy around with us. I said that my family's suffering was His favorite day time Soap Opera. I lived like that for so long. Then when I turned 17 I attended a youth group type deal called the cabin (It was literally held in a cabin for those of you asking why) The speaker one night talked about Jesus and what He had done for us. He explained to us that we were all sinners and all destined for hell unless we accepted Christ. That night I realized I was not a Christian. Once again I "gave my heart to Christ." I say it that way because I really don't know if I did. I told people I did for years.. but really I still didn't do it because I loved Christ but simply because I wanted life to get better. I didn't read my bible or get into prayer or anything. There was no fruit in my life to prove that I had truly accepted Christ. Later on that year I met my husband and started dating him. This is horrible to admit but I started acting like a good little Christian because I knew my dad didn't think I was ready to seriously start a relationship with a guy. So I lived out a lie for at least 2 years just to get my way. I started going to Harvest Bible chapel with Jason and really enjoyed it. I became a Sunday Christian. I loved church and getting to know more, but once Monday came I just wanted to be lazy and have fun. Oh sure when people asked I told them I was a Christian and I stuck to my moral opinions. I never went out and partied or did drugs or anything like that. But I did that to save face, not because I knew it was what God wanted.
On July 16th 2010 I married my sweet hubby. That poor poor man! Within the first week of our marriage I was crabby and oh so selfish. For the next few months I manipulated and whined to get what I wanted. If he didn't hang out with me the minute he got in the door I cried and cried. I'm so embarrassed by this! But I started realizing I was putting all my hope into my husband who is a sinful and selfish human being just like the rest of us! I could feel that something just wasn't right. But again I tried fixing it by getting a job or watching T.V. or just staying busy. Nothing seemed to work. I was interested in God but I just didn't want to take the time to get to know Him (story of my life) Through out all of this my mom was diagnosed with Leukemia and was getting sicker and sicker. About two years prior she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had complications from chemo. God intervened there and miraculously healed her. But this time things were just looking complicated. For once I wasn't angry with God but I was just confused. How could He allow one of His miracles to get sick again? I just didn't understand... and still don't.
Suddenly in January of this year I got a real hunger to get into God's word. I started with Romans and couldn't put it down. I would read a chapter in my NLT bible, underline verses and then look them up in my ESV and NKJ. This is something I have never done. I kept a journal on what I was learning and felt it changing my heart. Here I get to the point where I just can't explain it. All I can say is it was not me at all, God melted my heart and stirred a desire in me. And man did He have perfect timing!
On February 8th my sweet wonderful Momma passed away. My normal human self would have ran to my bedroom and blamed God for all of my pain. I would have shouted at Him and told Him I hated Him....but God had changed me. Instead I felt such peace knowing that my Mom was with Him and wasn't having to deal with anymore Dr.s or pain. I believed the promises He gave me. His word is full of promises and evidence that He has kept them! I miss my mom SO much, but I can't get passed the grace that God showed all of us. This winter was my turning point. I am not who I once was. There are times where I want to fall back into my lazy apathetic state, but God tugs on my heart and I actually listen and respond. Only by His grace and power. I can easily tell you that I have changed so much on the outside. I don't get upset with Jay nearly as much, I am able to give up a little more control in each situation, I'm less anxious, I don't fall into anger as easily, and I am happy. But these things don't even begin to express that change that has gone on inside of me. There is so much Joy and Fire for my Lord. I trust and love Him. I have put Him in control of (most) of my life. I still struggle with that one. God is teaching me so many wonderful things! There are times when I don't want to die simply because I love the mystery of it all and love seeing God through His creation. But most times I'm so excited to see my creator. UGH! I wish we had the words to describe this amazing feeling and life changing experience! Every time I try to tell someone about this I try to figure out what I did to finally change. Did I pray for God to help me? Did i finally figure out a good way to read the Bible? What finally did it for me? For some reason I keep thinking it had to have been something I did. But I didn't find a formula for reading my bible and praying. It had absolutely nothing to do with me. God just did it. He just made it happen. He could feel my heart softening towards Him. He knew I was on the fence leaning over towards His side. He knew I needed a bit of prodding and encouragement. It's about God's timing and who He is! Just ask Him to show you who He is. Let Him take control. He'll amaze you!