Monday, March 17, 2008

Telling My Story

There was way too much whining in my last post. In an attempt to redeem myself and any heavenly value that my blog may have, I'm writing this post. It's 3:00 a.m. (no more diet cokes after 6:00 p.m.!) so hopefully it makes sense.

Last week at church we were challenged by one of our pastors to share the story of how a relationship with Jesus Christ has changed our lives. I thought what a better forum than right here on my blog. I must first admit that I've been quilty of "testimony envy." Mine is not a story of a miraculous deliverance but rather one of God slowly and purposely weaving together the details of my life to bring me into a relationship with Him. Without much drama, the storyteller in me is reluctant to share my testimony. However, the challenge has been given and I can't sleep until I get it done. So, here it goes. (May God be honored.)

I come from a great family with wonderful parents and siblings. By most standards, even before following Christ, I lived a pretty ordinary and compliant life. Growing up we attended church mainly on Christmas and Easter. Those are still some of my fondest childhood memories. It was such a treat to put on our new "church clothes" and parade up the street as a family to the Baptist church that sat right in our own backyard. The best times were when I would get to sit next to my dad and play with his hands and wedding band during the service. We would also attend church when visiting my Grammy Mary. She was the one who taught me to sing from the hymnal. Hymns like In the Garden and He Lives will always remind me of Grammy. One summer we got to attend Vacation Bible school while visiting. I thought it was the best thing ever! And I can remember like it was yesterday helping Grammy prepare communion for her church. Grammy would allow me to pour the diluted grape juice into those "cute little glasses" using an old, graped-stained watering can. Although at the time I didn't realize the significance of the communion service, I somehow knew that it was hugely important. Just reflecting back on these sweet memories brings a lump of emotion to my throat as I realize how even as a child, God was drawing me to Him through those precious times spent in His house.

Fast forward to high school. Let's just say that this was not a great time for me. I had no friends. Nope, not a one. I was one sad and lonely adolescent. My mom took matters into her own hands (thanks, Mom!) and had me invited to Youth Group at that same Baptist church right in our own backyard. Again, I loved being in God's house with His people. It just felt right. It was there that I met many friends (including my future husband) and best of all, my Savior. I was baptized in October 1980. I wish I could say that from that moment on I followed God and grew in my faith. Truth be told, I was too busy with the social part of church to really focus on God. Reminds me of the parable of the seeds. Even though the seed of my faith sprouted and probably looked pretty healthy for a while, there were too many years of shallow roots until finally my walk withered away all together and Don and I weren't even attending church anymore. Those lost years of fellowship and growth with the Lord still grieve me so.

But God wasn't about to let me go. He did let Don and I head our own way for a while but like any good Father He also let us deal with the natural consequences of our actions. For us this meant the loss of our business, bankruptcy, and one financial disaster after another. Like most children, when the going got too rough I went running back to the Father for comfort and guidance. That's when the roots went down deep and really took hold. I'm so grateful for those horrible, awful days! That's also when I really committed to grow in my faith and allow God to begin the process of molding me into the person He wants me to be. I haven't regretted a day since.

I don't know if others saw the change in me but in my mind it has been dramatic. I still have such a long way to go but I know from where I came. I can tell you that my faith in God has freed me from a lifestyle of worry. I know that God is in control and can handle things way better than I ever could. It has empowered me to honor and respect my husband, seeing him as God's gift for me, rather than nag and criticize him. It helps me to judge people less and love people better which in turn allows me to do the same for myself. My faith has taken me far beyond myself to places like Little Rock, Arkansas and farther still, Guatemala. It is allowing me to love my children with reckless abandon while at the same time confidently releasing them to His care and plan for their lives. My faith gives me strength for today, hope for tomorrow, and security for eternity!

I don't know what my life would look like without my faith. I can only speculate and what I can imagine is truly sobering.

Simply stated: Thank you, God!


Anonymous said...

That was awesome Stacie! Thanks for sharing.