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
My personal testimony of God's undeserved grace to me.
Last week the secretary of our Awana club asked me, along with the other new leaders, to give her our written testimony. I was supposed to have it done yesterday (sorry Jackie!) but didn't get to it til today. I thought it would be a good thing to post: