We all have a story. These stories are as unique as the person who has lived it. For those who are Christ Followers, the story of our lives can take on a whole new and sometimes rocky depth finding our way back to God.
Over the past couple weeks, Community Christian Church, the church I have been attending lately, has challenged us to share our own stories of our way back to God. I know I have shared parts of my testimony in various blog posts over the past few years, but thought this was a good time to put it all down on paper, so to speak.
For those of you who don't know, I grew up in a Christian household. My dad worked in Christian broadcasting for his entire life. My mom worked for several Christian organizations, including The Billy Graham Center Library on the campus of Wheaton College.
I don't remember a time growing up when we didn't go to church on Sundays. Even when we kids didn't want to go, we went. It's not that religion was being forced on me and my brother, but going to church was just part of our lives. Most of the time I enjoyed the Sunday School classes and the men and women you taught them. I have memories of enjoying that week of summer I got to attend Vacation Bible School at the church across the street from us.
The exact day or moment when I accept Christ is only a vague memory. I know I was about seven or eight years old and I was laying on my bed, alone in my bedroom. The act of accepting Christ in my heart was so matter of fact that it left no distinctive memory. Unlike many who come to Christ who experience a tremendous wave of emotion, for me, it was just a small step in a journey.
My walk with God since that time has been less of a straight line than a scribbled, meandering path resembling the crayon marks on the wall made by a toddler. I have had my highs and lows through out the years and some years totally devoid of God in my life.
My my senior year of high school I was on fire. I was active in my youth group and my church. I help lead a Bible study at my public school. And as any good Christian kid, I carried my Bible with me to all my classes throughout my senior year. I even did my daily Bible study by my locker most mornings.
In my own personal study of the scriptures, I found meaning in the words written in books like James and Matthew that hit me on a deeper level than I had experienced in the past.
I continued to be active in the church through college and on after I was married. But as time went on, the fire in me started to die. My inner turmoil of having to pretend to be who I wasn't had been eating at me for decades. That and other events in my life all spiraled me far away from God.
In a very short amount of time, I lost two good friends. Both of these ladies were not only active in the church, but were making a tremendous difference in the lives of kids. Their sudden deaths tore me to pieces.
That was the breaking point. It was the time where I walked away from God. Okay not so much a walk as, oh let's just say I full out ran. Needless to say I was angry. I had been angry for much longer than I had realized.
The sudden deaths of my friends were the catalyst, the starting gun if you will, that triggered my sprint away from church, Christians and God. I could not fathom a higher power who would take away people doing his work and bringing children into his kingdom. HOGWASH! I felt so abandoned and alone.
I had gotten to a point that I could no longer believe there was a God that loved me. How could God have let me experience such internal pain for so long?
Well before my angst filled teenage years, I wanted God to answer just one question. Why did God make me the way he did? Did God make me this way? Did he make a mistake? Was I a mistake?
That anger, that resentment of the silence on God's part continued to fester for several more years. I didn't want anything to do with anything that had to do with God. It was only after I went face to face with a jar of pills and nearly ending my life when the wall I had put up against God started to break down.
I can't say why the wall came down. Call it an epiphany. Call it a swift kick in the pants. Call it the lifting of a cloud that surrounded me for years. Call it what ever you want. I have never been to explain it myself, but in just a few moments the anger, the loneliness, the questions I had all disappeared.
So what did my friend say that brought on this new found attitude? She suggested that the reason I never received an answer from God to my question about who I was was that I wasn't asking the right question.
For nearly my entire I was asking Why. She suggested I start asking How.
How can I glorify God through who I am? How can God be glorified in my life and what I do? As much as I had worked in the church, as much as I read the Bible, as much as I professed to be a Christian, I had fallen short of contributing to God's kingdom. Those questions my friend posed to me marked a monumental shift in an attitude that had kept me from truly understanding that God had a purpose in my life.
Before, even with accepting Christ into my life when I was a child, I didn't know God. I thought I did but except for a few moments in my life, you could say I only had an academic knowledge of God. Even with all my experiences and times of leadership in the church, I still wasn't where God needed me to be. I was still focusing on the wrong things. I didn't have a relationship with him.
I wasn't letting God lead my life. I wasn't listening to him. I had been taking him along where I wanted to go. It took me walking away from God, being lost, being homeless, losing so much in my life to really come to the understanding God needed me to have.
I found out the hard way that my life without God was worth nothing. I was just smoke upon the wind. It has only been through obedience to God's calling where I have found purpose. I discovered that no matter the what the outside package looked like, I was loved by God for the person he knitted my inner most being to be. It was in God where I found value as his child, his much beloved daughter.
If I had run away from someone I called a friend like I did from God, I would never expect to be accepted back. But that is where God is so much greater. He accepts us all and that is when I learned the true meaning of grace.
The last several years haven't be easy. God doesn't promise us that. I still struggle through life, but now, having not just knowledge of God but knowing God, having his presence in my life, his voice is so much clearer to me.
Acts 20:24 says "I consider my life worth nothing to me, my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the good news of God's grace."
Want More? Receive updates right in your email box? It’s free and will never be used for spam.
Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. You can opt out at any time.