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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Salvation Testimony

I'm sitting in my office reflecting on God's grace in my life.  I was introduced to the Lord Jesus 33 years ago, as a 14 year old girl. I did not attend church regularly as a child but I did attend church at times with friends.  I can say I loved church from an early age.  Walking through the doors I sensed something so very different  than what I experienced at my home.  My grandmother was a Christian, a good legalistic Southern Baptist, who prayed for me daily.  I am thankful for her prayers and I know the Lord is answering them in my life still today.  And Yes, I still LOVE the church, not the building, but the people who make up the kingdom of God.  Jesus died for the church-His bride and I am thankful to be a part of that!

 Back to my reflecting...I understood nothing about Jesus. I remember sitting in Sunday School and my teacher getting upset with me with all my questions.  She was speaking a foreign language and my mind was attempting to learn this new language. I continued attending with friends or some mornings I would walk.  I did love to be at church. That is funny to me because to this day I still love to be at church either alone with the Lord or in fellowship with other believers.  Let me say it again I LOVE Church!!

I remember the confusion in my mind as the Lord began to open my eyes to spiritual truths.  He used the light of His Word to till up my hard heart.  I knew I needed salvation and I desired heaven so I walked an isle and made a profession of faith.  I did what every good baptist girl should do, right?  I noticed changes beginning to happen in my heart they were so foreign to me.  Nobody told me I would change.  I remember resisting the change God was attempting to do.  I did not understand salvation was about a personal relationship with God.  I did not understand that He would begin to change/clean up my wicked heart from the inside out.  I was so resistant that I stopped attending church and became negative in my heart toward the church.

In this state I felt I would still gain access to heaven but God and His people had no right to tell me how I should live.  I had God and He was to stay tucked away in a little corner of my life until I was in a crisis.  When a crisis hit, like getting stopped for speeding or my boyfriend breaking up with me, I would call God over and ask Him to perform for me. He was my genie in a bottle.  When I called He was supposed to bow and say, Yes Master.  Well maybe at the time I could not express this idea but looking back on it I understand this was my mindset.  This is grieving to my heart today.  Please stop and look at your life.  I know there are many people who attend church week after week who are living and treating God in this same way.  Oh people may God open your eyes and heart. On with my story...

At age 17, Todd and I get married.  We lived in married student housing in Edmond, Oklahoma.  He went to school and worked in the paint department at Sears.  I worked at a bank on Lincoln Blvd.  We were known as the "Pro's" on Lincoln.  You must know OKC to understand this.  Todd and I did not attend church and God was stashed way back in the corner of my life.  Todd finished school and I became pregnant with our son Houston.  Something about having children changes you.  God was needed in my life a little more as this little one came the scene. 

Through work, I met a couple who befriended me and asked us to attend church with them.  Houston was a preschooler and we attended sporadically.  But God was working and drawing me back to Himself.  Todd was drinking more and more on the weekends, (His testimony is incredible and I will share that at a later time.) and I wanted a "normal" family that attended church together.  Appearance was so important to me and I still struggle at times with this today.

Soon Meagan was born and Todd came to know the Lord.  He was a radically changed man.  I wanted the appearance and the drinking to stop, not the life change to happen.  I was such a hindrance to Todd.  I was a Christian I knew you did not have to surrender and give up all for Christ.  It was fine to put Him in the corner and call Him when needed.  Todd did not buy into my line of thinking.  He was sold out and on fire.  I was stubborn and prideful.  I know there are many of you reading this who can relate.  I pray God uses this testimony to crush the pride in your life.

So for THREE years, I resisted the Holy Spirit's drawing.  I remember leaving church with a throbbing headache.  Pride is ugly and I was ugly on the inside and out.  As our little family was growing, we are attending church regularly and I soon learned to put on the mask and appear Christian.  I was miserable on the inside but was good at pretending all was well with my soul.  I had the questions and answers down.  I knew doctrine, how to lead someone to the Lord, and all the right answers.  But oh how I ached for peace.

I thought the solution to find peace would be to get very busy with church.  If I was busy serving maybe peace would come.  I began teaching preschool Sunday school and even enrolled in an evangelism class.  I stayed with the evangelism class until I had to write my testimony.  I realized I did not have one.  Walking an isle is not much of a testimony!  I dropped out of the class and focused on teaching preschool, my kids, and attending every function the church offered.  Busyness does not bring  peace and confusion was becoming a close friend as I struggled to learn how to live.  Questions hounded me..."What am I supposed to think".  "How am I supposed to act?"  "What is expected of me?"  "How am I supposed to treat my kids?"  "What is my life supposed to look like?"

I searched for these answers by watching family programs on TV.  I bought self help books. I became a people watcher.  I was grabbing at everything and anything to tell me how to live and yet I had too much pride to share my struggle with others. 

I remember coming home and praying or saying the "sinners prayer" several times  every night.  I wanted peace but I did not want anyone to know I did not have it.  I wondered why God was not performing for me.  Where was He?  Was He real?  Confusion and panic began to set in.  I was miserable.  By the way being miserable is a great place to be.  You must be broken before you can come to God. 

One women's retreat, I decided to lay my pride aside and walk the isle again.  I visited with a counselor, prayed the prayer, and was baptised for a second time.  Guess what?  My pride was broken down but the peace did not come.  I was angry.  I wanted peace and God was not giving it to me.  Was the peace not found at the end of the isle??  NO, peace is found in the person of Jesus and is discovered through His word. 

I know this is long but please bare with me for you must hear.  I was at a place of desperation.  If God did not move in my life I was hopeless.  I remember grabbing my Bible and shaking it to the heavens.  This is comical now but I was angry at the time.  I said God, You promise peace, a purpose,a direction to live.  I want that!!  I am going to read Your word until You speak to me.  I am going to beg and plead on my knees until You break through.  I don't intend to leave You alone until You give me peace.  Whooo Hoooo, I did not know it at the time but that is exactly where God wanted me to be.

I sat with God's word, read, repented, cried, rejoiced and,oh my, God came.  He began once again to clean my heart, to show me His truth and give me His peace. I dd not resist this time. I cultivated a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.  He exchanged my life for His.  I no longer stuffed Him in a corner of my life and called Him when needed.  He invaded my life and I was the one to bow before Him and say yes Lord. 

As time went on, Houston got sick and our church attendance and my relationship with the Lord Jesus was put on the back burner.  I needed Him to heal my son and that was my focus.  Now He was gracious and carried me through that time.  I learned of Him even more as I walked through this trial. 

Guys, God is good and He desires a personal relationship with You.  Head knowledge of Jesus will not work.  I am so thankful of His grace and His hand upon my life.  I am thankful He allowed my misery that caused me to cry out to Him.  I am thankful He never left my side.  I am thankful I can bow before Him today and serve Him with my whole heart.  I love Him so.  I love His church.  I love His word and I love His people.  My heart has a burden and a calling to minister to His people.

 Please stop playing church.  Jesus is worth so much more and you are missing a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe.  He is the only One who can give rest and peace to your soul.  Won't you love Him today!!