Another eventful week! I've been in staff meetings since Sunday night and have just now taken time to write this.
Today (Tuesday), for the first time that I can really remember, I was asked to share my testimony. For those of you who may not be sure what that means, it's just sharing with others about how I came to know Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. That was somewhat of a challenge, because I have never really had to put my experience into words. I tell you, when you stop to try and put into words your salvation experience, you really examine where you are in your walk with Christ.
Anyway, it got me to thinking that I really need to practice sharing my testimony. After all, the Bible tells us to be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks the reason for the hope we have (1 Peter 3:15). So, here goes:
For the most part, my family was normal. My two brothers and I had both of our parents around. They both worked to provide for us and made sure we went to church on a regular basis. If dad wasn't able to go, mom made sure we were there - probably more for her own sanity than anything else. :) Well, needless to say, I was raised in church. As some folks would say, I cut my teeth on the back of the pew. So I had a pretty good head knowledge of the Bible and God and Jesus....you know, the whole nine yards.
I attended my first summer church camp at the age of seven. I'll never forget it. It was the first time I would be staying away from home for a whole 3 days! Camp became something I looked forward to each summer. God's presence was on that campground in a way I had never before experienced. I must have gotten "saved" every year. Mostly, that was because I didn't truly understand what it meant to accept Christ in my life. I think it was more about getting caught up in the moment and the emotion of those powerful services. Now, I don't want you to think that God wasn't working. He was using each of those experiences to bring me closer to a real knowledge of Him. But it wasn't until I was 14 and in camp, that I really felt God speaking to me and saying, "ok, this is it....it's time to make a real commitment." So I truly repented and accepted Christ as my Savior...but not really as my Lord. I was saved - no doubt about it - but the trials of life were still to come and test my willingness to completely surrender my life to Jesus.
When I was 18 and a freshman in college, I attended a youth convention with my church that really stirred within my heart the need to let Jesus be Lord of my life. I had been living my life as a Christian...for the most part. I was never tempted by things (like drinking or smoking or sleeping around) like most of the people I went to high school with. I won't act like I was perfect - I was far from that - but I at least acknowledged God's presence in my life and tried to do those things I thought were necessary to be a "good Christian". But when I entered college and was away from home and away from my home church, I started not attending church and not giving so much thought to where God fit into my life. I didn't start giving in to those temptations that I had withstood to that point, but I was living life for myself. When I went to that youth conference, I was really challenged by God's Word and began to examine in my own heart whether or not I had allowed Jesus to be Lord of my life. What that meant was this: was I going to continue doing things my way or was I going to seek God for His will in my life? It was a tough question.
I made the decision to allow Him to guide me in every aspect of my life. I won't pretend that it was easy or that even now I still always let Him lead and guide me, but that was a turning point in my life. I decided to come back home and attend a local private Christian college and at the close of my freshman year, went on a mission trip to Greece and Bulgaria that really changed my life and my perspective on the Christian experience.
Ever since that pivotal year (now an amazing 11 years ago!) I have seen God move in so many ways in my life and in the lives of those around me. I've had other struggles that have challenged my walk and my faith, but each time, God has been so faithful to me and has been with me each step of the way. I can look back now and see His hand in so many areas of my life. I am truly thankful and awed by His grace and mercy.
I used to feel like I didn't have a great testimony. I wasn't one of those who had come from the pit of hell (so to speak) and had a miraculous conversion. As a matter of fact, I hardly remember living my life without a desire to please Him. However, I realized that my testimony was just as incredible as the person with the miraculous conversion. My testimony is all about God's keeping power. His ability to guard me and keep me from sin.
Now, some of you may be thinking, "Well that's just great, Christy. I'm glad your life has been so wonderful. You haven't had to struggle with things like I have. I've not had it as easy as you." You are wrong. Sure, I didn't struggle with some of those things like drinking, smoking or sleeping around - but I've had other struggles. Struggles like pride, selfishness, self-righteousness....just to name a few.
The point of all of this is regardless of when you gave (or give) your life to Christ - whether you committed your life to Christ at an early age and lived a life pleasing to Him or you were an alcoholic living life on the edge without one thought of God and His will for your life - we all are sinners in need of a Savior. Thank God His grace and mercy are available to us all. The one thing I know is this - He is able to guard those things we give to Him (2 Timothy 1:12) and if you make the commitment today to give your life to Christ and entrust Him with that - you will never be the same.
If you would like to know more about accepting Christ as your Savior or need a friend to talk to about struggles you're facing as a Christian, please email me. I would love to help you in any way I can.