A couple of weeks ago, our pastor issued a challenge to our church from the pulpit. Using a speech Paul gave in Acts 26 for inspiration, he asked us to write down the story of our personal journey with Jesus and then pray about who we could send it to. Challenge accepted! In addition to a young lady I’m mentoring, I decided to send mine out to the world wide web.
My Life Before Knowing Jesus:
I grew up in a Christian home with a twin sister and younger sister. My school-teacher parents loved us and had us at church every time the doors were open. In fact, my dad worked as a part time worship minister in several of the small churches we attended. At the age of 12, I started to feel a burden. I understood that I was a sinner, meaning that I disobeyed God’s laws as taught to us in the Bible, and that I would never be able to obey them perfectly. As much as I might want to. I also knew from reading my Bible and going to Sunday School classes that I could not truly be in relationship with God because of my sin. Our perfect God cannot have anything to do with sin. But I knew that although the punishment laid out in scripture for sin is death, Jesus, God’s Son (who had never sinned) died in my place to take the punishment for my sin.
All I had to do was confess my sin and my need for a Savior and put my trust in Jesus’s death to save me from my sin. But I was afraid. I’m not really sure why, except that I knew this was a big, life changing commitment to God. Every Sunday at the end of the church service, the preacher would invite people to come forward and make this commitment. I would get a nervous knot in my stomach every week, knowing that I needed Jesus, but lacked the courage to do anything about it.
How I Came Into Relationship With Jesus:
Every year I went to summer camp with my church group. During rest time one afternoon our camp counselor gave me a pamphlet about becoming a Christian. It contained no information I didn’t already know, but I knew in my spirit that it was time to stop delaying and commit my life to Christ. So I prayed there on my camp bunk to ask God to forgive me of my sins and help me make Jesus the Lord of my life. I also understood that I would get to spend eternity with God in heaven.
My Life Since Knowing Jesus:
As soon as I committed to following Jesus, I felt a burden lift. The burden of being separated from God by my sin was removed. I felt lighter and relieved. That was over 37 years ago. Through middle school and high school, I surrounded myself with others who were following Jesus and attended church and youth group activities regularly. At college, I fell in with some negative influences and rebelled in so many ways I never imagined I would. I fell away from church and God’s people as I tested a different way of life and to decide if the faith I was raised with was how I really wanted to live. After college and all the parties were over, I was lonely and ashamed of the things I had done. God drew me back to Him as I made my faith and beliefs my own. I no longer believed in Jesus because that’s what my parents believed. Life without Him at the center was incredibly empty. I knew life worshipping and serving Him was better.
I met my husband Chuck and helped raise his son and two daughters of our own. There have been many hardships through the years, including caring for a medically fragile special needs child, step-family dynamics, job insecurity, both of us surviving cancers, the mental illness of family members, and things that have to remain unspoken for the privacy of others. But through it all, we have the promise of Phil 4:13 NIV, which says we can do all things through Christ who gives us the strength. And not only can I do all things when I ask God to help me, but I have a joy regardless of my circumstances. Whether times are good or bad. Proverbs 10:28 NIV tells us that “The prospect of the righteous is joy…” I am not righteous in and of myself. I never could be. But Jesus made me righteous in God’s sight that day on my camp bunk. And I can have joy because I know that nothing can ever take that righteousness and salvation away.
I am sealed and made a child of God – enjoying relationship with Him now and for eternity in heaven. This is my assurance, my joy and my peace. I am so very grateful for all Jesus did to rescue me, and I’m also grateful that you let me share my story. I would love to hear your story as well or answer any questions you may have about mine. There is nothing more important I could talk to you about! And if you are a believer in Jesus, I challenge you to write out your testimony (use the same outline if you want). Then pray about who you could send it to. There are so many around us who need to hear about this life-saving good news. If you choose to accept this mission (Don’t worry. It won’t self-destruct either way.), I would love for you to send a copy to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can’t wait to encourage you and be encouraged.
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