With me heading to Cambodia next year with the SHE Rescue team, one of the activities we are asked to do is to share our testimony to a group of older children as well as also having to prepare two 30 minute discipleship messages too to a group of children and adults – praying on this one right now as its making me quite nervous!
I’ve been wanting to do this for a while however and have had several opportunities in the “real world” to share my testimony but always choked or worked myself out of telling it. So I’d like to write it in an effort to help me get the words out and also to share my story of how I became a Christian (Skip to the end if you’d like the abridged version haha).
Growing up my sisters, mum and I attended Seventh Day Adventist Church for what I can remember as being a few years when I was quite young and was a part of Sunday School. I remember singing songs ♪this little light of mine♫ etc and learning Bible stories as well as walking over to the “adult” church and sitting in the back pews listening to the very serious ominous sermons, to hymns as well as watching my Nan and Grandad sing along. No harsh memories from it. I actually remember enjoying it as a little girl.
I guess things change as you become a teenager and at times, I flitted between certain groups of people in high school, the nerds, the hippies, the goths, alone and although I had plenty of friends – I never felt like I belonged to a certain group….until I became good friends with a few in the “goths” group. Very stereotyped I know. Long story short I was always around talk of people not believing in God and openly saying he didn’t exist. Something I went along with. Never wanting to say my opinion out of fear that I would ‘lose’ friends or be alone. Typical teenage behavior because of course you know you are different in some silly way to everyone else even though you are all the same.
This continued as I started a relationship straight out of school with someone in the group who I was friends with and he was there through one of the toughest times in my life, my dad passing away, and I clung to him because of this.
I spent the next 8 years of my life in a relationship with this person who vocally said they didn’t believe in God. I went along with that knowing full well that I was turning away from Him – and I just ran further.
The thing is, I know I didn’t believe it….any of it! I always knew God existed. I couldn’t explain it any other way. However I chose to ignore this. I think partially because I didn’t fully understand what believing in God meant and also because I was around people who often blamed God for things that men/women had done.
I honestly always knew there was something missing in my life though yet I instead replaced it with parties, drinking and in the end, a relationship which nearly broke me after he cheated on me in our 8th year.
I felt alone. Very alone and very wronged. And I knew that something was still missing from my life – not the obvious that I wasn’t in a relationship anymore. I knew it was God. There was one stage when I’d been out clubbing and drinking with a new set of friends and came home and cried myself to sleep hoping that things would change and I’d feel happy again. I knew I had to change and I was looking in all the wrong places in an effort to find it.
A chance to go to a party of people I’d never met before soon changed that and I went along and was lucky enough to meet my now husband there and I deeply and strongly believe and know that God led me to my husband so that my husband could lead me to God.
I knew he was a Christian though he never openly discussed it with me or talked about it to me or actually never said “come to church with me”. He left to church and I stayed home. Then one day, I just went with him. And I went to church for the first time in over 20 years. I took that leap and went one time because I loved my husband and wanted to be involved in what he was doing and to see what it was like.
And I’ve been going back ever since. Though it took me a little while to get used to this “non traditional” singing (there were no hymns!!) and all the hands in the air! It was definitely foreign to me.
Just over a year after that, in May this year I was water baptised (see my video here)…which was such an emotional moment for me I’ll never forget it. In the words of one of the men who lay me into the water and came up to me and pulled me aside afterwards. “you were such a heavy weight when we lent you back into the water it was hard to hold you and when you came back up you were so light like you weighed nothing”. I felt the exact same thing. it was also great in that there were some Pastors there ready to speak to you about what God was saying to them about this moment and some kind words from my brother in law about Faith. Such a moment to be surrounded by my family and great people.
I guess my point is that I knew where I should be and ran from it. And as much as you can run away from something, it will always find you. It’s just that in your effort to run away from something, you choose a road which ends up being full of bumps and dead end roads filled with emotionally heartbreaking decisions. When it doesn’t have to be like that – there was a clear path for me and I knew it. I knowingly turned away. I know that now – because God was all around me in so many ways.
I ended up running away from my faith and making bad decisions when I knew I’d end up being here all along. And I didn’t have to go through all that heartache to get here if I just had turned towards the Lord and followed His voice.
My husband likes to compare my journey to Jonah and the Whale. Jonah disobeyed what the Lord had told him to do and headed in the opposite direction even though he knew he should be where he was told – yet he went as far away from where he was supposed to go as possible. It took him through a violent storm and into the belly of a whale for 3 days and 3 nights, all the while knowing full well that he was openly running away from the Lord.
My life has changed in so many ways since I came to Christ and I am filled with a renewed sense of happiness and peace in my heart that I’ve never EVER had before. I no longer fear death and I am constantly amazed at how God is working in my life and those around me. I love that I am still growing into my faith, learning constantly and getting to know all that our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us is just blowing my mind.
The weight has definitely been lifted and to know that I, for now and forever, have someone by my side to love me unconditionally and forgive all my disbelief – is worth the journey!