Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Amazing Grace

My testimony, much like Beth's, starts long before I was born. I have the great fortune of coming from many generations of God-fearing, churchgoing folks. I'm not sure I was attending church with my parents when I was 2 days old, but I will say that I was born on December 13 and played the role of Baby Jesus in the nativity play at our church that year. Not too shabby :) My dad was the music minister at our church, so I grew up in Sunday school and choir and Vacation Bible School and GAs (Girls in Action) and the whole works.

On my first day of school, in 1984, my mom gave me a red Zondervan NIV Bible. My first big-girl Bible. While the pages have long since separated from the binding, I still have that cover, because written on the inside, in my 6-year-old hand, is the following:

APRiL 7, 1985
EasTeR Sunday
I ask'ed JeSuS into my heaRT

Like I said, I was 6, so my memory isn't crystal clear, but I'm pretty sure I was sitting on a bean bag in one of the back bedrooms at my Mema's house after church; my mom answered some questions and made sure I understood, then prayed with me. Even now, I remember knowing that something big and wonderful had happened, that I was changed.

Due to my apparent need to document these types of things, I have another Bible (navy blue this time) with the following written inside (in my 11-year-old very round cursive handwriting):

I was baptised on:
5/13/90/ Mother's Day

My brother and I were baptised together. I love the words I always heard said during baptisms - "Buried with Christ in baptism, raised to walk in a new way of life." If you dissect that phrase and really think about it, it's deep. It's awesome. Your old life, your past mistakes, your shame, your guilt is GONE. It DIED WITH CHRIST ON THE CROSS and your life is new. Praise God!

I think one of the great things about a testimony is that it keeps changing and growing. Those pivotal moments of salvation and baptism are obviously constants, but the rest is an ever-evolving story. I have had dark times in my life, times when I strayed far, far, FAR away from God. Times that I was too ashamed to tell people I was a Christian because I knew my actions were not an accurate reflection of the Christian life. Even darker times when I stopped worrying about that.

God is merciful. God extends grace. God forgives. Thank you, God. He never let me go; He never turned his back on me. He kept showing up, and waiting, and drawing me home. I am not perfect, and neither is my life. I have a list of faults and foibles a mile (or two) long, but I have learned that a life without God is meaningless. I have learned that I can't do life without Him and I don't want to try.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

When we've been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun.


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