When I was little, I heard stories about the Bible at Sunday School and Cubbies. My mom told me them at home, too. One day, when I was four, almost five, I was at home with my mom in the kitchen. She was telling me about how everyone has sin. People who sin have to be punished. The punishment for sin is to go to a terrible, painful place called hell. But God sent Jesus, who was perfect and didn't deserve any punishment, to die on the cross and pay for our sin. If we believe that He did that, then we don't have to go to hell when we die. We can go to heaven to be with God. If we don't trust in Jesus' death to save us, we will have to go to hell. Well, I didn't want to go to hell. I wanted to trust in Jesus. My mom helped me pray to God and ask Him to forgive me for my sin. As soon as I was done praying, I felt like a heavy load had been taken off my shoulders. I couldn't even describe it. I was so happy. I remember thinking that I loved Jesus more that any of my favorite things.
Well, there wasn't an immediate dramatic change in my life after that. But I kept learning about God and what the Bible teaches from church and Awana and at home. I memorized lots of verses out of my Awana books, too.
The summer I turned 11, I got to go to Awana Scholarship Camp. There I decided that I really wanted to follow Christ. I purposed to read the Bible every day, and I came home really excited. But, despite my good intentions, I couldn't keep it up, and the spiritual high passed. Life went back to normal. Sort of. This happened year after year. As the years passed, there would be times that I sensed that my spiritual life was stagnant. I would pray and ask God, "What do you want me to do?". And I would always hear that still small voice say, "Be baptized." Now I knew what baptism was: a public declaration to follow Christ. I knew it was good, and I knew it was what believers should do. But I was afraid. I was afraid of going in front of the whole church, not to mention going to the pastor to say I wanted to be baptized in the first place. So I put it off. I rationalized. And I remained discontent. There were times that I almost did it. Several times on the last day of camp I would tell myself that I was going to get up at testimony time and announce that I would be baptized when I got home. But I didn't get up. I was too afraid. It was my secret battle. Finally, when I was 15, I came home from a Christian retreat, and I was tired of fighting. I surrendered and told my dad that I wanted to be baptized. A month or so later, I was. And a most thrilling surrender it was.
My third year of camp, my counselor had really encouraged me to be baptized. She said that after she was baptized, she really experienced blessing. Looking back, it was the same with me. The habit of reading the Bible finally fell into place. The winter I was 16, I had a hard-to-describe milestone moment with God. To sum it up, I fell in love with Him. I learned what it meant to have a personal relationship with God.
As I grow up and life goes on, I lean more and more on this great God I serve. He is constantly teaching and growing and helping me. The Bible memorization and study that I've done have been invaluable. I want to obey Him wholeheartedly, although I fail every day. This life and love I have from Him is the best thing I have ever been given, and I want everyone else to have it too. May my story bring Him glory!
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Right now I am still on that computer time segment. This will probably be my main posting time (and, as some of you know, my main e-mail time).
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Two young Moravians heard of an island in the West Indies where an atheist British owner had 2000 to 3000 slaves. And the owner had said, "No preacher, no clergyman, will ever stay on this island. If he's ship wrecked we'll keep him in a separate house until he has to leave, but he's never going to talk to any of us about God, I'm through with all that nonsense." Three thousand slaves from the jungles of Africa brought to an island in the Atlantic and there to live and die without hearing of Christ.Two young Moravians heard about it. They sold themselves to the British planter and used the money they received from their sale, for he paid no more than he would for any slave, to pay their passage out to his island for he wouldn't even transport them. As the ship left its' pier in the river at Hamburg and was going out into the North Sea carried with the tide, the Moravians had come from Herrenhut to see these two lads off, in their early twenties. Never to return again, for this wasn't a four year term, they sold themselves into life time slavery. Simply that as slaves, they could be as Christians where these others were. The families were there weeping, for they knew they would never see them again. And they wondered why they were going and questioned the wisdom of it. As the gap widened and the housings had been cast off and were being curled up there on the pier, and the young boys saw the widening gap, one lad with his arm linked through the arm of his fellow, raised his hand and shouted across the gap the last words that were heard from them, they were these, "MAY THE LAMB THAT WAS SLAIN RECEIVE THE REWARD OF HIS SUFFERING!" This became the call of Moravian missions. And this is the only reason for being, That the Lamb that was slain may receive the reward of His suffering!
When it was finished, I was just shocked. When I read in the Bible Jesus' teachings to "count the cost and take up your cross" and to "die to yourself", it doesn't usually sink in what it means to "die to yourself". To have all my dreams, joys, wishes, comforts, inclinations and opinions not just subservient, but cast aside entirely, deserted. Dead. To really live out the song "I Surrender All". To give unconditionally without thought to self... that sounds familiar. It sounds like love. It sounds like Jesus.