Friday, July 30, 2010

Long ago, in a land far away

There's no way for me to tell this story briefly, so settle in, grab a cup of something, and get comfortable.

I decided to follow Christ as a child.  I was in church every time the doors were open, my parents were Sunday School teachers, and my life was centered around that building.  Somewhere around 8 years old, I walked down an aisle and asked Christ to come into my heart.  As I reached my teenage years, I questioned that moment over and over.  Had I known what I was talking about at 8 years old?  Did I do it the right way?  Did I do it because my friend did it?  Do I need to try again?  I would talk it over with adults who I respected and I remember one specific night in junior high that I sat down and said, okay, this is it.  If I never knew before, I know now, and I choose this now.  It seems so funny looking legalistic for such a young girl.  I was worried because people talked about a time and a date, and I felt like for me it was more of a gradual understanding.  But I was a rules girl, and man I wanted to know a date that I could spit out if someone asked.

The honesty of the commitment I had made was tested pretty early on.  My family had some rough times as I finished junior high and entered high school, and suddenly I found that it was just me at church every time the doors opened.  It had always been me, mom, dad, and my sister and brother.  It was a family event, a family belief, and it was understood that we were all going.  But out of nowhere, I had a choice.  And I ended up being the only one who chose church.  There is no doubt in my mind that was a turning point in my life.  There were several rough years, and God placed people in my life - my friends at church, their families, and Godly men and women who knew and loved me - to keep me afloat.  I look back and I see the way He orchestrated my life, providing for me in so many ways.  If I had not made that commitment to follow Christ, I really don't know who I would have become.  I needed a refuge, and I don't know where else I would have found it.  I have to think that all of my early questioning was just laying the groundwork for the tough times ahead.

Even as I got older, there were times that I thought, I've never done anything that really needs "saving".  I was a good kid, I came to faith early, and I made the right choices.  In hindsight, it kind of seems like I was daring God with that train of thought, and oh did I get what I asked for.  The worst thing I had done as a teenager was talking trash about a girl...whom I asked forgiveness from...and discovered she had no idea what I had said.  And then we became friends for life.  (Hi Amelia!)  So you can see how maybe I was missing out on a depth of understanding when it came to redemption and God's grace.

I struggled with my faith as I became an adult.  Wrestled with what it all means.  Made decisions I wasn't proud of.  I walked away and said, I know what is right, but I choose this instead. (If I could only tell you how well that went)  But I have always found a loving, forgiving God at the end of that rope.  I have learned lessons that I wish I could have learned another way.  I have seen the consequences of choices that I made that didn't line up with the life I have chosen in Christ.  But they have made me who I am.  They have given me a sense of compassion that it can be easy to miss in life.  I'm thankful that I made mistakes.  I'm thankful that I had to choose early on which path I wanted to follow, and that I learned early on that even that choice has consequences.  I'm thankful that I had the opportunity to learn that choosing to live for Christ does not make me better than anyone else.  The Christian life is not about perfection.  It's about choosing every day, sometimes every minute, to honor the God who created the universe in every way you know how.  It's about realizing that apart from Him, you don't even know how to do that.  It's about knowing where your forgiveness comes from, because my don't we all need it.  It's about loving God, and living with the grace He has afforded to you.  Loving other people and letting them know that grace is there for them too.

I feel like a "testimony" is a work in progress.  It's not just an account of history, it's a story that grows with you each day you live.  I never want to stop learning more about Christ.  I want to continue to be surprised by something new, even after 20+ years of believing.  Sometimes I fail to look, but sometimes I get it right, and I see things that I never imagined.  Faith has never been simple for me, but there's a God that understands that, and lets me hash it out.  I am forever grateful.

1 comment:

  1. I love you! What a wonderfully written testimony! Thank you for being such an instrument in leading me to the Lord at 13! You have a jewel on your crown with my name on it waiting for you in Heaven! Love you!