As a new Years resolution, the Lord put it on my heart to start a blog so that's just what Chris and I did. I won't pretend words flow as freely from me as they do my husband, but I do like the freeness of blogging. Just being able to put your thoughts on paper and putting it out there. I'm excited to see how God works through this.
I prayed about my first post and my testimony came to mind. Here goes...
I was born and raised in a Christian home and by that I mean I went to church three times Sunday and Wednesday and Saturday evenings. I knew of Jesus but didn't know him personally. Growing up, I struggled to be good. Everything was very legalistic and I found myself fearing eternity because I honestly didn't know where I'd spend it. It was a 'Jesus plus' environment. 'Jesus saves but you also need to wear skirts, can't go the doctor, don't cut your hair, etc'. When I was 13, I got baptized. 9-11 had just happened and everyone seemed to be doing it. For me, it was something that kids did at my age and if I wanted the holy spirit and be good I'd better do it. Baptism meant you were saved. I remember the month after I was baptized, I tried really hard not to listen to the radio. I tried really hard to be a good Christian. But with time I became numb to it and just went to church to please my parents. I always felt pressure to be the good daughter and stay in the church, for my other six sisters had not. Looking back, I realized that baptism had not saved me. I was simply going through the motions.
My senior year of high school I finally had a boyfriend! After graduating I moved and we had a long distance relationship. A few years into the relationship, it became rocky. We both made poor decisions that hurt each other. But we couldn't seem to keep away from each other no matter how many times we broke up (twice). I began to feel like there was something missing in my life. I had just gotten back together with my boyfriend and the relationship was much better, but the feeling was still there. My sister invited me to a retreat and I gladly accepted thinking it was just needed. It was an amazing weekend spent with Godly women. I thought, 'wow, there's so much I need to change about myself.' I want to be more like them'. I left that weekend thinking I was going to turn my life around. Coming home I told my boyfriend all the changes I was going to make. I tried talking about the bible, religion, what steps to take next but he wasn't very receptive. He never wanted to discuss it. I tried for the next couple of months to change, but failed. I still got drunk, let my boyfriend stay overnight, etc. My sister talked with me and was very patient. She suggested finding a church close to home since hers was an hour and a half away. She told me about Calvary Chapel Philadelphia. I was very hesitant to go. It was a large church and many people who had left my previous church went there. I had in my mind that I wanted a small intimate church where no one knew me. A fresh start. No luck there. After several more people mentioned Calvary, I figured it was a sign to try it. My friend's cousin went there so we arranged to go to together. From start to finish I felt like God was speaking to me. The service was about our foundation and knowing it was secure. All the worship songs we sang I knew and loved. I loved the pastor, Pastor Joe. He was knowledgable and had a way of speaking that made him so relatable. I loved that he wore an Hawaiian shirt. It was so different and refreshing. At the end of the service, Pastor Joe did an altar call. What he said which really resonated with me was, ' what's your relationship with Jesus? It's not about church, it's not about Calvary Chapel. It's your relationship and knowing him personally. It's a language of love'. It wasn't about going to a particular church or following a set of rules that made my salvation secure as I had been led to believe my whole life. It was knowing he loved me and paid it all on the cross. My heart began to pound and a tug of war with my brain and heart began to happen. My heart said 'go'. My brain said 'in front of all these people? You're crazy' Good thing the Lord was patient with me. After the third time Pastor Joe made the offering, I yielded to my heart and my legs seemed to be propelled forward, towards the pulpit. As the tears came pouring down I was filled with an overwhelming sense of peace and love. Pastor Joe said a prayer that I said with my heart for I could barely make out words. I was given a bible and a lot of hugs. From that moment I surrendered, I knew it was going to be okay. No matter what came next-the uncertainty of my relationship with my boyfriend, my parents not accepting me for my decision to attend a different church, giving up my lifestyle, etc-it would be okay. I had Jesus and it was so sweet. Now I understood, now my eyes were opened. What a different perspective! What an amazing perspective!
And you know what? My boyfriend who didn't want much to with God got saved two months later. Now he is my amazing, most incredible husband. :) We got baptized together and this time I understood.