Testimony

I gave my testimony at our church picnic this year, which was great! I was happy to share the great things God has done for me and in me, and it helped me to connect with some new people so I am making more friends at church 🙂 I said more than I wrote down, but here’s what I had written:

Hello, I want to say first of all how happy I am to be sharing my testimony with all of you. I hope that you will be encouraged in your faith to hear how faithful God has been to me in my life.
     My father is a pastor, and I grew up going to church and learning about God. I believed in Jesus when I was very young, and I was baptized when I was 7 years old. It was always important to me to be a good Christian. I tried to be kind to everyone at school, even if they were unpopular, I memorized Bible verses in Sunday school, and I volunteered at my church’s programs.
     When I was 14 I found a lump in my neck. There was a cyst growing on my thyroid that grew bigger and bigger, so by the time I had surgery it was bigger than my fist. There was cancer in the lump, so I had radiation treatment, and after the radiation treatment I had another even bigger surgery to make sure that there was no cancer left in my neck.
     This was a very difficult time for my family because my parents were very worried about me. My church was praying for me, and even strangers from other churches who knew my story prayed for me and my family. It was frightening for me too because I felt very young to be so sick, but whenever I was scared or sad I would pray and ask God to help me be brave and to make me better. God helped me and everyone in my family to trust him, and finally my cancer was cured.
     Gradually as time passed I started to drift away from God. I knew that he had helped me a lot when I was sick, but I was tired of all the rules to being a good Christian getting in the way of things I wanted to do. I started going to parties with friends and drinking alcohol on the weekend, but I always went to church on Sunday too. This went on for about a year – I still tried to be a good person, and I worked hard in school, but I rarely thought about God and it didn’t seem to matter very much.
     Finally one day I was sitting in church hung over and realized that I had become a huge hypocrite. There wasn’t anything in particular happening during the service that convicted me, but there was a stillness in my mind and a very clear understanding that it was time to choose whether I was going to obey God or choose my own path, and I knew that the decisions I was making were not leading to the kind of life I wanted to have.
     I prayed and asked God to help me begin a new relationship with him, not just keeping rules so people would see what a good Christian I was, and not just going to church so that I wouldn’t feel guilty, but getting to know God and becoming more like his child. I started going to a mid-week Bible study to get a more solid grounding in my faith, and I started living with more integrity and honesty. It wasn’t easy, and I made a lot of mistakes. I had bad habits, and most of my friends didn’t understand why I would want anything different. I was afraid that I would give up and walk away from God again, but one day when I was reading my Bible I realized that God has made an amazing promise:
     Jude v 24 says that God is able to keep you from stumbling and to bring you into his glorious presence faultless and full of joy. When I read that, I memorized the promise so I could remember it in any circumstance, that no matter how much I fail, no matter how weak or vulnerable I am to sin, I can remember that God is able to hold on to me.
     What I have learned in my relationship with God is that he loves me more than I can understand, and he cares about my life. He matches all of the effort that we put into our relationship with him, and he helps us to understand and do what is right and to become people who are pleasing to him, who want the same things as he wants for the world.
     This past week I was reading in 1 Peter and was struck by chapter 2 verse 10 – “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
     It’s not that God wasn’t merciful before I gave my life to him – he totally was! Merciful by the family he gave me, merciful that things didn’t get more out of hand than they did when I was drinking, merciful to be ready to forgive me before I asked and merciful to convict me, to speak gently to me when I was hungover in church. Jesus died for us while we were still his enemies – Romans 5:8, so what does Peter mean about receiving mercy? I think that before we are saved, it is there for the taking but we don’t accept it. Now that we have accepted it, how fully it is ours! We cannot allow ourselves to question God’s mercy toward us – no amount of backsliding or frailty or lostness can keep us from God’s mercy or disqualify us from forgiveness. It is God’s will to keep us from stumbling and we can claim that promise! God is faithful not only to forgive us but to gently, mercifully shape us and change us – not that we ever get past the point of needing forgiveness, but he makes us able to rejoice in our salvation free of guilt or shame or fear!
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Comments

Susan 24-09-2010, 20:27

OK, that was good for me to read! That one got by me – I'm glad our Father knew and had it all covered! I love your writing…

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