A few years back, I was having a conversation with my then eight-year-old and he asked me how long I have been a Christian.
I got a little giddy, because I love intimate conversations like these with my kids. In fact, I journaled this little conversation into the journal I keep for him because it was just such a special conversation.
I shared with him, that I was about to celebrate my 20th Re-Birthday! Looking confused he said, “But Mom, you’re 35, did you forget?”
“Of course not son, but when I was 15 years old, that is when I really identified myself with what being a Christian meant. That was when I went from knowing about God, and religion, and believing what my parents believe because it was all I had been told, to knowing God, experiencing His presence and making a personal commitment to following Him all the days of my life. I had believed in God my whole life, but this was when I decided to lay down my life and take up His cross.”
I am excited to share my testimony with you here today, in celebration of my 25th Re-Birthday! Over a lifetime, one has many testimonies of God’s faithfulness, and His presence in significant ways during specific seasons, but today I am going to be vulnerable and share with you about what led me to dedicate my life to serving and loving Christ, knowing Him as my Savior, Counselor, and Friend as well as God.
I have always struggled to view my testimony as dull and boring, because it doesn’t have a bunch of drugs, alcohol, or sex in it. Have you felt that way?
I was raised in a typical Christian, church-going home, and lived a pretty blessed life, comparatively speaking. While most of my friend’s parents were getting divorced and re-marrying, my parents were faithful. And that same faithfulness flowed over to their discipline of going to church every Sunday and being involved in church ministry. I grew up going to Sunday School, and sitting in church every weekend, and had no doubt in Jesus’ existence. But there was still a disconnection. I knew of God, about Him, history as told by the Bible, I loved my friends at church, the fun activities, and I loved to sing worship music but it was more because I loved to sing than it was to worship Him.
Looking back over my life, I can see evidence of God’s faithfulness, guidance and protection in my life, even before I chose to make a personal commitment to God. And for that I am grateful. It is evidence to me that His Spirit was moving powerfully in my life. As His adopted daughter, it deepens my loyalty and love for Him.
As a youth, I went on my first missions trip when I was twelve years old. I had to work hard to go, paying half my way through babysitting and random jobs. I would say that though my motivation to go was selfish, God surprised me there. The thought of going to Mexico with the youth group was so thrilling, and then there was always the trip to Magic Mountain on the way home. But once I was there, living in the Trique village, among the people, in the homes we were building them, God broke my heart and awakened my soul embedding a heart of compassion for those less fortunate. Over the course of the next 10 years, and eight visits to the same village, God had used these trips of service, among other experiences to mold me, and grow my identity in Him.
After the first two visits, I had definitely experienced Christ in a new way, but I still hadn’t come to a place of brokenness or humility in my life. I hadn’t acknowledged the sin in my life, nor had I repented of it. I certainbly didn’t make a personal connection of NEEDED a Savior. And up unto one specific turning point in my life I never realized the need for me to verbally, willingly offer my loyalty in all forms to God. Up until I was fifteen my soul, my heart, my mind, and my will were not fully given to God. I hadn’t surrendered all. I believed in Him, but I was living for myself, focused on myself, and making decisions that would benefit my momentary and long term desires.
So what was the turning point, or breaking point for me?
A broken heart.
You see, when I was fourteen years old, I entered into my first serious relationship with a young man, who by God’s grace was raised by a strong Christian family. Truth be told, though his mother doesn’t know it today, she was one of my first mentors. I watched their family, as they welcomed me into theirs for family suppers, family vacations, and even church services.
I watched as Priscilla lovingly and tenderly cared for her family. She had home schooled all the boys until high school, which is funny because I didn’t know very many people who did back then. And they had also adopted a little girl, who Priscilla and the boys cared for as their own. It was the first family I ever watched up close and personal through the adoption process at such a young age, other than one other from church.
It became very clear to me, that I wasn’t good enough for her son, but none the less, our relationship grew more intimate. We both were determined to protect our sexual purity, but I had given him my heart. A year and a half later, the summer before he went off to University, he gave me a promise ring and we began dreaming of marriage.
Because our relationship grew serious so quickly, most of my friendships went to the back burner. All of my time was spent working, or spending time with Jon before he left for college. Once he was gone, I continued going to his church and the college bible study, because most of my closest friendships grew from there. Near the end of his first year at college, Jon came home. I anticipated a proposal, but instead He broke off our relationship. He had explained to me that he had been doing a bible study with some guys at school, and believed God wanted him to break up with me. He said, “I can’t make God number One in my life with you in it.”
Who knows if this was really why he broke up with me or not. I was naive and young. But I believed him, nonetheless.
I was shocked, heart broken, and felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest.
I honestly, believed I could never and would never love again.
Sleepless and depressed, I wept for months. I felt rejected, unloved, and forgotten. I felt abandoned and lonely.
Over the next year, I tried to let my heart trust again, but it was no use.
Then one night, at bible study, I just broke. I fell to my knees during worship and sobbed. I was empty, broken, and cried out to God to save me, to fill me, to be my all in all. I begged him to take my aching heart and fill it with a vision, to give me purpose, and a reason to live.
As I laid on my knees crying on the floor of the sanctuary, I felt the Spirit of God embrace me. As brothers and sisters in Christ continued to worship all around me, I felt hands lay on me, and prayers going up to God on my behalf. At first some of the prayers seemed unrecognizable. There were a few women praying in tongues while laying hands on me, but then I heard a clear voice say, “I love you. You are my daughter. I am all you need.” I heard it plain as day! That night was a turning point for me as I shared with the women in my small group, what I had been feeling and the thoughts that were consuming my mind.
I was freed from a bondage of lies that the enemy was trying to deceive me into believing about myself. The depression that was entrapping me for months was not invoked by a breakup. It was because I had been deceived. All I had believed about myself, what I knew to be my identity, was dependant on Jon’s love for me. Once he didn’t seem to want me anymore, and had rejected me, I began to believe untruths about who I was. Lies like, “He never really loved me.” And, “I’m not loveable, I’m not good enough.” I had unknowingly made an idol out of our relationship too!
Recognizing the untruths for what they were and replacing those lies with truths from God’s word gave me a joy and a confidence like no other. Shortly after, I read the book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, which influenced me to spend the next few years focused on growing in Christ alone, without the distraction of a boyfriend.
This was also the about the same year that Jars of Clay debuted their famous song “I want to fall in love with you”, which because a heart song for me. It’s funny how I look back on this concept of “falling in love with Jesus” as a seemingly weird concept, but I so related to the lyrics on many levels and really wanted to be satisfied in my relationship with Him alone.
The verse, Romans 5:1-6, became a motto and meditation that has since reminded me of the bigger picture through every struggle I have encountered in life.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Twenty-five years ago, this week I began a journey of growing in Christ and finding my identity and purpose in Him. He healed the wounds in my heart and grew me in ways I would have never expected. He took a girl who was broken hearted, done with men, and never going to have children, and changed my heart from the inside out. And I am ever so grateful.
Of course, our journey growing in Christ doesn’t end, it is a life-long journey! And there is much more I could share with you about how I have experienced God, and grown in Him over the last 25 years, but this post is to share with you about when and how God and I began our intimate relationship as Savior and Sinner Who was Saved by Grace.
Thank you for reading my testimony and celebrating my 25th Re-Birthday with me!
I would love to hear your story. How did you meet Jesus? And when is your birthday in Jesus?
I was blessed to be born into the family of God and my story may not be a radical one, but it is a story of faithfulness–God faithfulness. And since I chose to lay down my agenda, my will, and to embrace the purpose God intended for me as His daughter, I have experienced an ever growing radical adventure with God.
Life isn’t easy, but God is good. My life isn’t as I would have dreamt it, it is better.
On a side note, I would like to share, that while my testimony may seem cheesy to you, and not worth writing about or reading. In fact, you may even be believing the lie that your testimony isn’t very powerful either, that is an untruth. You story is significant! It’s contributed to your faith journey, it’s where you began, after all. I would encourage you thank God for all the many blessings He has given you, including desiring you to be a part of His forever family, regardless of how dark or mild your past is.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. ButGod, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:1-10
Lord Jesus, We praise you for all you have done in our lives. We thank you for coming to save us from our sins, so that we might have a reconciled relationship with you and one another. Help us to guard our hearts against believing untruths about who we are and to focus on Who we are in You! Thank you for forgiving us, and loving us as your own child. Forever Yours, Your Daughter