Friday, September 17, 2010

My Story

A testimony is an account of something that has happened, basically any factual written or spoken statement. This is my testimony of how I became a believer in Jesus Christ. 

Before I knew Christ, I would have told anyone that I was a Christian because I went to church. I grew up going to church and as I got older, I became very involved. By the time I graduated from high school, my faith had become a social outlet more than anything else. Although I heard truth, my heart was hard, and I never absorbed this truth from those who tried to mentor me. 

I stepped onto campus for my first week as a college freshman, and found myself with no foundation. My goal at that time was just to have the fun college experience I had always heard about. I wanted to break free from being a "church girl" and sought to do this any way I could. I joined a sorority and looked for my identity in parties, a boyfriend, and being accepted by the people I met on campus. To be honest, my life seemed pretty good..... for the first 6 months. Then things started to really spiral. But even in the midst of growing chaos, I still didn't see that I was hurting myself with the choices I was making. Suddenly I found myself moving in with my boyfriend, getting myself into an abusive and unhealthy situation. Life continued to spiral, so I tried my best to do the only thing I knew how: escape. I attempted to run from my reality by turning to alcohol to mask and erase what was happening. But not even the alcohol could erase the consequences of my decisions. Although I laughed at the party, I wasn’t happy, and even though I would not have admitted it, I felt like I had lost myself. I was searching for my worth in the approval of one person and it just didn't hold up. By God's grace I was able to break free from this relationship. But by that time, I was at the lowest point of my life. I remember sitting in my bedroom, thinking: if I continue down this road.....well, I didn't want to think about what would happen to me. I knew at that moment that I had to change, while simultaneously becoming overwhelmed that I couldn't change a thing. I knew that everything I had tried had failed, and knew I had no where else to go. I sat on my bed and thought: "If God is so great, He will help me, and if He is real, now is His only chance to rescue me from this hell and show me who He is."

I reached far back into my book shelf and pulled out a Bible, one that I had not touched since high school. Searching for answers, I started reading in Romans. Answers I looked for, and to my amazement, answers I received. Through His words, God revealed how much He loved me despite my sins, despite years of running away from Him, and that He had forgiveness for me if I would just turn to Him and ask for His forgiveness. I was struck by Romans 2:1-4, and immediately felt the weight of my sin. There I was, shifting blame on others for the pain I felt, when I had done the same things to God! And yet, His kindness is what was leading me toward repentance....... I kept reading and Romans 5:6-8 hit me like a ton of bricks. That He forgave me while I was still a sinner and at my lowest point, blew my mind. I had to look up from the page, so many thoughts rushing through my mind and heart. I knew I had run from God, and made a mess of my life, losing pieces of myself along the way. But yet, in the midst of this, God sent His only Son to die for me. For me? I was completely blown away. Why would anyone, least of all the Creator of this Universe, die for me? In overwhelming gratitude for the reality that I didn't have to carry the burden anymore, because He had already paid the price for my burdens, I accepted the free gift of grace He was offering me by His death and resurrection, bringing me from a life of brokenness that deserved death to a life of wholeness in Christ that brings joy and freedom. 

In life after saying "yes" to Jesus, I am not perfect, nor is my life perfect. I struggle, and have to give over my selfish desires daily, asking God to replace them with His goodness. I have to daily agree with God on my sin and ask Him to give me His characteristics instead of my own. The difference in my life now is that I have a firm foundation to lay my hope in for my life and my future. Out of gratitude for what He's done to redeem my life do I want to tell others about Him. So what does it mean to be redeemed? I think this is a perfect explanation: 

redeem \ri-ˈdēm\: 1a:to buy back: 2:to free from what distresses or harms: 2a:to free from captivity by payment of ransom 2b:to extricate from or help to overcome something detrimental 2c:to release from blame or debt: 2d:to free from the consequences of sin 3:to reform 4:to restore 5a:to remove the obligation of payment 5b:to exchange for something of value 6a:to atone for 6b(1):to offset the bad effect of.

Jesus has released me from the chains of bondage I once felt. Out of gratitude for what He's done for me, I want to live my life for Him. To put it into better words:
I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. 
Psalm 116:1-2
God offers this gift to everyone who will accept it. Will you accept this gift too?

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Storms Calm.

Can we say, hurricane? Texas isn't really known for hurricanes, but one decided to pass on through this week, bringing some tornadoes with it. Using the rain to feel productive in my work (doesn't it usually make people tired?) I dove into the tasks at hand. God's teaching me to joyfully plan for my future, even though it feels like a mess sometimes. When I finally ventured outside I was shocked. I love thunderstorms, but never really think about God in them. But this week was different. The storm was so powerful I couldn't help but see God's mighty hand all over it. I felt God crying out to His creation: "Here I am! Turn from your worldly desires and trust your life to me." His power was so evident, and just as quickly as He began the storm, He ended it. His power to set nature in motion and to calm it is incredible. It reminds me of this verse.....

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" 
Mark 4:39-40

How telling of me. That even the wind and the waves obey Jesus at the sound of His voice, and yet I still lack faith. Just like the disciples who saw with their own eyes doubted, I too doubt whether God will come through on His word. Even though He has never once failed me or forgotten to use my trials for good. His promises are true, His word never comes back void, and in this drive through the raging wind and water, I could see the One who is worthy of all my trust, for He has the power to calm any storm, even the ones in me.