I've left bits and pieces of my testimony all over this blog and all over the web. No, I haven't been on the witness stand in a courtroom. I'm speaking of my Christian Testimony. Here is the full story in a Reader's Digest Condensed version.
I was raised in a Christian home. Sunday school and church on Sundays (at least). Rainbows and Vacation Bible School in the summer. Prayer before the meals. The only curse words I had ever heard were damn and hell. On both sides of the extended family, family gatherings for holidays were large, noisy occasions of good food, games, pictures, stories and talk....all without any alcohol.
I loved to read my Bible every day and study my Sunday school lesson. Why? Honestly, more because I was a good student than any other reason. And we had little offering envelopes with check boxes on the outside with things like: read Bible, studied lesson, giving, staying for church, brought a guest, etc. I liked checking as many boxes as possible. And the thought of lying or cheating about it never occurred to me. Basically, I was a “good” girl.
When I was eleven (5th grade) some friends and I from church went to see the Billy Graham movie “The Restless Ones” at another church. A couple of my friends got all emotional and cried. I didn't get emotional. But I did realize then and there that being a good girl that went to church all the time would not get me into Heaven. That more was required. That I had to admit even a good girl did things that were wrong according to God (sin) and that I needed to ask Him to forgive me, accept Jesus' death on the cross for me and ask Him to save me. And that it had to be public. So, I went forward publicly.
When it was all over, I told Mama and Daddy about it at home. They called our pastor, who came over one day soon and spoke with me. Made sure I had it right and understood it. And he also spoke with Daddy. Who ended up crying and accepting Christ right there in our house. So I had the privilege of being Baptized with my Daddy on a cold December night. (Bug had that same privilege forty years later in a different church on a warm summer day, with her father!)
So, as far as I knew, I was right with God and on track. I attended church camp in the summers. Continued with Sunday school and church. Like so many teens, I sampled my share of doing some “wrong” things. But I had lines I would not cross. As I became an older teen, I fell into the “it doesn't say that exactly in the Bible” way of justifying some attitudes and actions. I read devotions. I prayed fairly regularly. Still thought I knew all that was needed to know to live the Christian life.
Fast-forward a few years. Mama and Daddy are gone. I'm grown. It literally hurts too much to sit in church and not have Mama there. Not hear her alto when we sung hymns. I go less and less. I go out dancing more and more. I'm not a “bad” person. I don't hurt anybody. But I don't really help anybody either.
I meet Pete, fall in love and marry. Something down inside of me says “I want God in this.” I get out my Bible and read to Pete the Bible's definition of love in I Corinthians and what the Bible says about the husband loving the wife as Christ did the church. About the wife honoring and respecting her husband. I tell him I want us to go to church. He's agreeable. But, every weekend, something comes up. Time rolls on and we never go. And I'm too newly married and been out of my church long enough that I don't go without him.
In May of 1989 I had Little Pete. Being a mother meant to me acting a certain way. Being sober. Being at home, not running the roads. Teaching them Jesus loves me and things like that. But Pete had no interest in going to church. And I still didn't know how to go without him.
Then we had the 1st Gulf war and Tienanmen Square. And I'm upset about the world for my child's sake. And I'm so quick to get angry and tear peoples heads off verbally. I'm functioning, but I'm not really happy. And one blessed day I decided to get down my old Living Bible mother had given me as a teen. And I started reading, right at the beginning. And I literally could not put it down. I did “thirst for it like the deer pants for water.” I spent many an hour on and off all through the days at the old dinning room table, reading, praying & weeping. About the time I finished Revelation, I received a little card in the mail from a lady named Susan at my church. (The one I hadn't attended in about 8 years.) She was the Sunday School teacher for my current age group and she wanted to invite me to come.
Praise God! I didn't feel scared to go by myself anymore. The next Sunday I got myself and Bubba ready without Pete and went to Sunday School and church. There were many new faces, but also quite a few I recognized. And my dear friend Cookie just swept along side me and treated me like I'd never been gone a day.
I started going regularly, soon after that. The Holy Spirit led me to go forward and publicly rededicate my life to the Lord. Soon I was taking every class available to me. I helped in Vacation Bible School and begun to teach Children's Church. But the best thing ever was when I did a course by Henry Blackaby called “ExperiencingGod”. Through that, for the first time, I could look back through my life and see Jesus footprints all along the way. For the first time ever I understood what it meant to not only know Christ as Savior, but to allow Him to be Lord of your life. How to listen for the Holy Spirit. How to see where God is working and join Him there.
Thank God for that! I've been privileged to since play roles in His work. And He made me strong enough to stand the trials that were soon to be headed my way. Now, 20+ years later, I don't walk the walk perfectly each day, but I know who I am in Christ and I have the tools I need to face today and tomorrow.