My Bible study group had a testimony week and I had the pleasure of hearing many of their stories. We were all challenged to share our stories, and as I had a wonderful God moment today, the Spirit put it in my heart to share mine.
My journey is the story of God’s faithfulness, His presence in my life, His constant desire to help and imbue me with His power to keep the fight, and His grace for that day.
My story is not about a dramatic before & after conversion, but the slow progression of a friendship that began when I was around five and the sweet experience of committing more of myself to Him each day.
It’s realizing more of who He is, letting Him reveal to me where my preconceptions of Him created by other flawed people, my own past, and my moments of cognitive dissonance fall short of His glory.
It’s in understanding a bit more of what God means when He says, “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Psalm 85:10, KJV). It’s releasing my anger with the understanding that God is the Judge of the whole world and that vengeance belongs to Him. It’s the belief that He enables me to carry out whatever He calls me to do, no matter how unprepared and incompetent I feel.
Paul, who lived in times of great persecution, told Timothy, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7).
Not the spirit of fear, as if we didn’t have a fortress in God, but of power, as those who live by faith in the Son of God who rose from the grave, as those who have the Holy Spirit living in us, as those who have the King of kings for a father. The spirit of love, as those who were rescued by He who is love in action, as those who strive to be as He who loved people who despised and brutally murdered Him for spectacle’s sake, as those who know they are so loved and have an unending well of love to draw from in Christ. And the spirit of a sound mind, as those who were brought to understanding in Him, who have God for a teacher and His Word for a textbook, as those who can commune with Him and ask for His wisdom as often as we wish.
All my life I’ve been fearful and angry when I saw injustices happen to my family and loved ones around me, and it left me feeling powerless. Perhaps, I thought, if I had more money, or prominence, or status, or influence, I could change these circumstances. Despite my faith, in times of injustice, it was easy to slide into striving to be, as the poet Henley said, the master of my own fate.
I knew in my heart Henley was wrong. It was wishful thinking to imagine controlling my life regardless of who I turned out to be — time and chance happen to us all. In my focus on the storms, I’d forgotten who’d delivered my family from them before, who’d provided for us in our lack, and who’d comforted us in our losses.
I’m reminded of David who suffered much, but didn’t choose self-pity and vengeance. Despite his screw-ups, he continually turned back to God in trust, penning the song, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever” (Ps. 23:5-6).
And again God says through Paul, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:35-39).
I repeat, my story is not dramatic. It is miraculous because, as all the redeemed can say, I was brought from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light, but it isn’t flashy from an outsider’s point of view. It’s the story of someone who knew God from an early age. It’s the story of someone who knew a lot about God, but is still learning more and learning to apply those truths to her life.
My story is part of God’s story, a bold claim every believer can make. And the verse that encapsulates my story is this: “The LORD has appeared of old unto me, saying, yea, I have loved the with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jer. 31:3).