October 1, 2006

bloggy tour of testimonies

There's a new "tour" going on in the blogging world called "Bloggy Tour of Testimonies". The link to the tour (other testimonies) is at the end of mine...

I grew up going to a United Church of Christ church. I was baptized as a small child and confirmed in fifth grade. Then we moved and started going to an American Baptist Church, where I was promptly baptized again (the full dunk this time). In the years following high school, I went to a non-denominational church. Then when I started dating my husband, I began attending his church which is a United Methodist Church. I just transferred my membership there by proving I'd been baptized (proof of only one baptism was needed, in case you were wondering...). So, according to church documentation, I am covered as far as being a Christian, right? Well, actually, I think the answer is no. Because regardless of all these things, this doesn't say a thing about the saving grace of Jesus Christ. And in my case, most of these decisions were made for me by other people.

I'm thankful that my youth group at the Baptist church went on a weekend retreat the year I was in eighth grade. If my memory serves me correctly (good luck!), it was scheduled to be an all day event and that's it. Enter the weather in the midwest during February. We were hit with a snow storm and spent the night in a church. And by church, I mean I slept on a pew in the sanctuary. But that night, the speaker gave a talk. He came flying down the center aisle of the church on a skateboard, which I could hardly believe. Most of my church experiences up to that point were very, very conservative. He was acting like he was a young, elementary aged kid and he began to tell about all the activities he was involved in. Playing outside with his friends and overall, just busy. Then the guy pretended to be in high school and he was busy hanging with girls and studying. Then he was in college and he was busy. And then married and busy. And then widowed and busy. And then as an old man, he was busy. At every stage, God called out to him. But he was too busy, always saying he would catch up with God later. He knew it was important to spend time with the Lord but he was always so preoccupied with his life. I can only say that God touched my heart that night, in the middle of the snow storm. I started crying because I was such a hyper kid. I was always, always, well, busy. When the man opened the altar to pray, I went forward. I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior that night, standing beside my youth group leader. After all the classes and rituals that I had been through, I finally got it.

I wish I could say that I let Jesus fill my heart that night and I've never looked back. Never been far away from Him again. Sadly, that isn't true. Life happens and you forget all the wonderful things that Jesus is doing in your life. You forget about the mercy He extends every day. You aren't thankful for the grace that makes everything okay. Don't get me wrong. I never again doubted that my Jesus was with me always. And I feel that He steered my inner compass along the way. But there were times when I blatantly didn't listen to Him, didn't obey.

I also struggled mightily with the idea of God's will. How can we know God's will for our lives? When your friends are telling you to do one thing, your mom and/or dad are telling you to do another thing, your heart is saying even another thing, it's really hard to know which way is the right way. I talked to my youth group leaders, I prayed, I studied my bible, and yet I heard nothing. After years of searching, I realize that I wasn't listening. You can't hear God if you are always making noise, always talking. More than that though, I finally had a revelation about God's will.

I took a crooked road to get to where I am now. I married my college boyfriend and had a little girl. She ended up being my ticket home. It was my responsibility to her that threw me into reality and made me realize what I wanted in life. And even if I made mistakes, it was her well-being that kept me striving to be a better person. I lost my dad and it really shook my soul. Other things happened and my college boyfriend and I ended up divorcing. Something I knew the Lord can't stand and it made me feel the farthest away from God ever.

Then out of the blue, an old friend from high school surfaces. Carefully, I tread through this time. I am excited but want to do what God wants. Again, I make mistakes but ultimately, I feel the peace of God's will. Coincidences spring up left and right. I know that God's hand was in all of it. So, my revelation is this: the will of God manifests itself in the peace you feel in your soul when you are on the path that God has planned for you. Feel the peace and know you are within His will.

It was at the time that I was farthest from God that He chose to reveal to me what I had been searching for all those years. Isn't that just like God? To deliver me in my greatest time of need? Oh and He did so much more than that. He brought people into my life that just loved me back into the fold of God's flock. How grateful I am for those people that used their love and their hugs to remind me that God always goes after that one lost sheep. It was a very overwhelming time in my life. But at the same time, it was such sweet healing.

It's been over five years now since that revelation. And some days I forget how far I've come. Some days I still don't do my part to further my relationship with God. I get too busy and forget. But I never put it off for long. I feel that pull of my heart and know that my Heavenly Father is calling me. He wants to remind me how much He loves me. And I always answer that call.

To read more testimonies, click here. Enjoy reading all the wondrous things God can do. Feel free to add your own story! :)

8 rays through the fog:

Heather Smith said...

Beautiful testimony! I'm so glad that God is with us even when we fail Him! Thanks for sharing!

Kili @ Live Each Moment said...

beatiful testimony. thanks for sharing. i just posted mine today.

Barbara H. said...

"I finally got it." Amen! I am so enjoying reading these stories of God brought people to Himself!

Anonymous said...

I thought it was great that you shared how many can get into ritual or even take part in an act such as baptism but the key is accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour of one's life. His grace is the only thing that saves. I appreciated your sharing today. Off I go to read some more testimonies. :0)

Susie said...

Thank you for sharing this testimony with us. I think many of us have walked away from the Lord during our lives for a time of disobedience. Isn't it great that He is right there waiting to draw us into His arms time after time.

Joan said...

Andrea, what a lovely testimony. Even at my age of 73, I still have struggles and stray from the straight and narrow path. Praise God, He is always there, forgiving me even when I find it so hard to forgive myself, and accepting me back into his fold.

Lauren said...

with children in their teen years you have no idea how much I love to hear that people "got it" at youth group or at a young age. Thank you for participating.

Brenda said...

Praise God for youth workers. If it hadn't been for my youth group and the adults who were so giving of their time to minister to us, who knows where I would be today? Not that I never strayed, but that was where it all began.

God is so good!

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