Monday, January 28, 2008

My Story - Part 1

I've written different versions of this but this particular one came just after perhaps the hardest point in my life to date. I began to seek God and only then was I able to open up my testimony this way.

How many of you have seen the first Lord of the Rings movie? Most people didn’t like this one because there is no resolution at the end. They go through two and a half hours of some hardest challenges Hollywood can put on screen with the technology we have now and they show the credits as they continue in the middle of another challenge. I look at this through a slightly different perspective though. As is often the case in life, Christians don’t know what challenges tomorrow brings but we know that God is in control and has our best interest in mind. Said another way, a Christian’s hope is in the Lord!

Hope, this was something I had when I was young. As a kid, I grew up in the church. My parents taught me from an early age that the mean things I did to my sister or when I lied to them was wrong and it was called sin. I understood that because of sin, we can not be with God when we die because the penalty for even one sin is eternal death in Hell but that Jesus died in our place. I asked Jesus to forgive me for my sins and be a part of my life.

Now I was a stubborn child and I have no idea why but I asked Jesus to leave me and my life. I probably was praying that I could stay up late and the parents said no. For whatever the reason, I immediately knew the gravity of what I had done. If Jesus left, I would not have a savior and would be condemned to Hell. I went to my mother crying, telling her all that had happened. It was then that I learned the first of the two most valuable lessons in my life. She explained that Jesus, who is God, would never leave me or forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6, 8 & Joshua 1:5). I was then able to go to bed safe in the knowledge that Jesus was still there.

The second lesson I also learned as a child. I had a faith in God that would rival most pastors. I witnessed God’s answering my prayers, sometimes in very unexpected ways. My parents would spread grass seeds each year on our yard and each year, the birds would come. Full of imagination, I would picture myself with them hanging out and petting them like I could my dog. My first faith based prayer started like this. “Jesus, I like the birds. Can I hold one?” I sometimes would chase them but they were too fast for me to catch so I knew it would only be through God that it would happen. Well, after praying that prayer for a few weeks, I was with my father locking up the school gym and he called me inside. A bird had flown into the gym and could not figure out how to get out. This wasn’t just any bird, this was one of our grass seed birds and God had answered my prayer. I would love to share more examples like this of God answering prayer but in the long run, petting a bird, fixing a van, or even having a large turn out in my first college bible study (all of these are stories for another time) is pretty minor to anyone but me. I will say that based on those answered prayers, I knew God cared about me and He takes an active interest in our lives and that is a valuable thing to know. Let me jump to the present where God answered another prayer in an unexpected way.

One of the most often asked questions is why bad things happen to good people. That’s a question I cannot always answer but I can tell you that some of the bad things that happened to me were the things I needed most. I don’t know the exact turning point but I tried to take over my life and live it the way I thought I wanted it to go. I was sucked into a life I did not want by those decisions and I felt trapped. I was in a long term relationship with a woman that was not glorifying to God and was hindering my relationship with Jesus. I knew things were not right but I didn’t know where to go. All I could do was pray that God would draw me back to him some how. As I continued to pray, God began to work a change in my life and as I changed, that brought tension in my relationship with that woman. I was in love and I knew I did not have the strength to leave the relationship so God provided me an out. Last May, the worst thing I could imagine happened. She broke up with me and I was left with out a safety net or an excuse. I prayed again, even harder this time, that God would draw me to him and give me the peace and joy promised to all those who have been saved. It was at that final moment, I was able to write this story up to this point. I did not know at that time I would find a church with members who live the way I desired. I also did not know that I would make friends who I would be closer to and have much more in common then any I left behind when she left. I am able to live the life God has put in me to desire. A good and blessed life and it was all because my God refused to give up on me. I began seeking him but looking back, I can see how God was calling me the whole time.

My question to you is do you have hope in the Lord. Often we put our trust in ourselves, friends, or material things and those things let us down. Perhaps you feel like you are beyond hope. If you think you’ve left God or you are in too deep to change now, I encourage you to make a decision. If you decide that you want to have a relationship with God but don’t know how, pray that God would draw you to Him. That is one prayer, if seriously asked, He will always answer. Philippians 1:6 says "I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

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