Twenty five years ago Christmas and Easter became not just a religious holidays for me, but a real life story of hope and redemption.
I grew up in a household where we did not go to church. My great grandparents knew and loved the Lord. They would give us Christian books and I do remember going to church with them at least once. We were free to go with friends, too. I first went to a catholic church across the street from my house when I was in the 3rd grade. My friend, Valerie, invited me to go with her and her family. We would go on Sunday and then on Wednesday we had CCD (I think now it is called religious education). I LOVED going to church and learning about God. I went to that church for two years. It was the foundation of my relationship with God. In my childlike faith, I did pray to God at night (and maybe sometimes during the day) for years. I somehow knew He loved me and was looking out for me and my family.
A seed had been sown in my stony or thorny ground (not sure which one fits better). You can see my adolescent and teenage years as the seed was was planted the plant and begin to grow, however it could not grow deep roots and withered in the sun. Or…the ground was thorny and although the seed could plant and grow, it could not compete with the amount of thorns that overtook it. As I hit my teenage years, I felt out of place, rejected by many and began to rebel. I hated life and I hated a lot of people (or what they projected). When I was 14 I attempted suicide. I swallowed an entire bottle of Excedrin (or as much as I could swallow before I couldn’t swallow anymore). Thankfully, I only became super sick (vomiting bile all the next day). I probably should have had my stomach pumped. But, my parents didn’t know about it and I was too afraid to tell them. My mom did eventually find out and when I was much older so told my dad. I am just so grateful that I did not “succeed” in my attempt. God had other plans for me. And…I didn’t think about dying for a long time after that.
Back to my spiritual journey…I did have some Mormon friends throughout junior high and high school that I went to church with once or twice. The only memory I have is that church seemed long and (sorry LDS friends)…boring. By the way, I love my Mormon friends and family. But, that’s a whole other story.
When I was in my late teens/early twenties, I was working with a friend who invited me to her Lutheran church. I really liked it and enjoyed going on occasion. It reminded me of my interest in getting to know God better. However, fun to me and my friends was partying, going to bars and I was always in the search for love, the cliche’ of “looking for love in all the wrong places.”
Fast forward to 1994. I was 22 years old and met my future husband, Aaron. First, I loved how much he respected me, encouraged me and believed in me. He actually helped me sign up to go back to college full time. He invited me to go to church with him. I don’t remember much about going except that I stopped going for awhile (for immature personal reasons…ugh). But God would wake me up early on Sundays (that was probably like 9:00 or 9:30 a.m. back then!) and I would dig my heals in and refuse to go. Once I began to go again, I did enjoy it. The significant day came on February 13, 1994 (Aaron’s birthday) when there was a guest speaker at church. The man preached a wonderful message that I don’t remember anything about except that it spoke to me. After his message, he asked if anyone wanted a deeper relationship with God and if so they could come to the alter. It felt like I ran up there. I don’t know if I did or not. But, I knew that God was speaking to me through that man. (Interestingly enough, I realized later that the church where I sat and gave my life to Jesus was the church that my great-grandparents attended years before. I would go on to get baptized, married and have our first child dedicated in that church).
Life has not been perfect since then. But, these past 25 years have been filled with so much hope. At times my faith has been like that described in James 1:6,
“But when you pray, you must believe and not doubt at all. Whoever doubts is like a wave in the sea that is driven and blown about by the wind.” (GNT)
I love how The Passion Translation translates James 1:6-8,
6 “Just make sure you ask empowered by confident faith without doubting that you will receive. For the ambivalent person believes one minute and doubts the next. Being undecided makes you become like the rough seas driven and tossed by the wind. You’re up one minute and tossed down the next. 7–8 When you are half-hearted and wavering it leaves you unstable.[a] Can you really expect to receive anything from the Lord when you’re in that condition?”
I have been blessed with some wonderful spiritual mentors in my life. Women of God who have “been there” and who walk the walk and took the time to speak into my life and pray with me. One of them gave me the best advice I could have received as a baby Christian. She told me, “Remember that your spiritual walk is not dependent on the ebb and flow of your emotions, but your confidence is in The Rock- Our Lord Jesus.” That has been one of my biggest areas where I have to continue to grow in that unshakeable faith. There have been times where we faced mountains and I had faith we would not only overcome, but be victorious. But, other times we would face small trials or even larger ones and I have become a heaping mess. The wonderful thing is God has helped me grow through those processes. Every time he truly has worked everything for good! Romans 8:28, “So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.” (TPT)
I believe that now more than ever. Now, my question to you is, “Do you want to know Jesus and have a deeper relationship with Him?” (It’s not about having a religion. God truly wants a relationship). If so, it’s as easy as A, B, C.
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and that He paid for your sins through his death on the cross, and rose again that you might have life.
Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
Confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior and commit your life to him.
“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”(Romans 10:9) Repentance is defined as a “desire to amend.” In other words God gives us an opportunity to start anew and be transformed into the man or woman God desires us to be. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)