I met Richard, still knowing there was a God, probably thanked him a time or two. Dated for a few years, thought life couldn't be better! Had friends we hung out with all the time, jobs and debt! We got married in a church, because it just felt like the right thing to do. We still felt happy with life, I graduated with my master's, got a job and we bought a house. We moved to Orange, not as many friends here, loved our house, a lot more debt, but something was missing. We got pregnant with Noah, decided maybe it would be a good idea to raise our children in a church. We had spent some time in Richard's brother's church and we loved the feeling of family there...but that was 3 hours away. I remember being so worried about what people might think when we showed up in a church...I know its silly, but my worries you usually are. We tried out one church, and while it felt comfortable, and I could easily blend into the crowd without being noticed, Richard felt like it just wasn't quite right. So then we tried the church down the road, it seemed small but the inside and the people made it feel huge and warm. It felt right, so we stayed. I remember being surprised how much they went to church, Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night...I thought that was a little crazy. We kept going, even though at times I couldn't understand what Preacher was talking about. I observed a lot of things I wasn't used to, that made me feel awkward and that I probably pretended I understood. I saw people go up to the alter and pray, I saw people hug each other through tears and pray, I saw people get saved. It was so new to me, I liked it, so I just went along with it.
My grandma passed away and I was out of town for the funeral. Richard was visiting his brother, and then coming to be with me. He called me that Sunday evening to tell me while at church with his brother, he had been saved. I remember not knowing what to say, I think I was mad at him. Mad that he did it without me and partly mad because I just didn't understand it all, I mean I was okay, wasn't I? I was going to heaven, I think. I didn't need to do all that, going to talk to preacher, in front of a bunch of strangers...nope I was fine. Next Sunday, I went to church by myself, Richard had to work, I sat near the back, I think it was the first time I had been by myself. I blended in well. I don't remember what he preached about, I just remember when he was done, my heart was about to pound out of my chest, I didn't quite understand what was happening, but before I knew it, I was in front of that church of strangers, crying and praying. I professed with my mouth that Jesus was my Lord, asked for forgiveness of my sins and got hugged and loved by a ton of people.
I knew what I had done was huge, I had heard about the changes people make in their lives once they are saved, but not much changed for us at first. Noah was born, we became parents for the first time. We tried to continue living like we had before, doing the same things and that's when I started to notice the changes. Music in our house started to change, movies and TV shows changed, language changed, the way we spent our Friday nights changed. It didn't happen all at once, but slowly our lives changed. We became more involved in church and started teaching classes, we started being there every time the doors opened. We were happy, we had a relationship with God now, we were learning more and more.
And then our world forever changed. Then we had to put all that learning and changing and teaching into real life application. It wasn't just words in the bible anymore, it was real life. It was time to see if this was legit, was this gift we'd be given for real? For 10 months I prayed for a miracle, but I also prayed that if a miracle wasn't in God's will that we would continue to praise Him and our hearts wouldn't be hardened. During that time I relied on God's word more than ever in my life. This blog became my outreach. God used this to help me grow, to help me learn and to help my family and those around us grow. Because God saved me, I have the promise of eternal life. Because God answers prayers, our hearts never became angry, we were able to see the meaning in our trial. Because God loves me, He protects me and blesses me with little things to lift my heart and remind me of the glory that is coming. Because I trust the Lord, I keep moving ahead, not sure of what the future holds or where our path is going but knowing He has it all planned out!
Because God is full of grace, He has forgiven me of every sin, and holds no grudge against me. Nothing I can do will ever separate me from that.
That's my story.
I felt compelled to share. At church a few weeks ago, we were encouraged to share our stories with our children and our classes. Noah had recently felt "Jesus knocking on his heart" but at 7 years old, had many questions and was having trouble understanding his own feelings and emotions. So I decided to take that challenge and verbally share my salvation story with Noah. It was fun to tell him about how nervous I was and how I didn't know anyone really at church. I loved that he asked questions and could relate to me, it was a sweet moment for us.
I'm also part of a pretty awesome group of ladies that do bible study together. Our class also took the opportunity to share our salvation stories. As I looked around at all these women and shed many tears with them, one thing was overwhelmingly obvious. God is Good. We all go through stuff and God uses every trial for something. We don't always see the lesson right away, and maybe its others who learn from us. But if we never share what the Lord has done for us, or what he has brought us through, our story is never heard. No one hears and learns and is encouraged. I know fear falls into play often and we don't know how to say what we want to say or we are worried someone is gonna think we are crazy. Well call me crazy (I have a two year old that almost has me certifiable) but being saved, and opening my heart to let God work through me is by far the best thing that has ever happened to me.
So I challenge you to share your story. Share it here, share it with your children, share it with your family, your co-workers. If you don't know you story, then your challenge is to find a church to help you write that story.