I know, the title of this post is very original, but I didn't know what else to call it. We are joining a new church here in Jackson, MS and one of the things that Thomas and I have to do regarding membership is write out our testimony. I have tried to many times but when I look back on my life it just gets all very confusing and jumbled when it comes to the how's and when's of when I came to the Lord. So, anyways....
When I am asked to tell or write my testimony, I am always hesitant because it seems my life has been a hodge podge of different spiritual experiences leading up to my life today. I have no idea at which point I became a born again Christian and when I get to Heaven I think that will be one of my first questions I'd like to ask God! Most of that has to do with my parents unbiblical belief influences, my believing I was always a Christian, and then my growth as a Christian... Yet not knowing exactly when that "change" occurred. Confusing and strange, I know. :) Hopefully I can explain....
My parents met when they were both missionaries of The Way International, a "biblical research organization," (you can google it if you'd like) in Birmingham, Alabama. After I was born, they both left that organization because of some questionable things going on with the president of The Way, but they still held to the same beliefs and would meet from time to time with others that left the organization. Growing up I was taught these unbiblical beliefs my parents held (the biggest one being that Jesus Christ was not God in the flesh), but by the grace of God they weren't talked about a lot and they didn't seem to "stick" with me much. I didn't have much religion in my life at all growing up. I knew about God and Jesus, but never gave them much thought. I actually didn't know Christmas and Easter were about Jesus until I was a teenager. I always just assumed that believing in God was "enough" and that as long as a person believed in God (or a "god") then they were ok. Hindu, Muslim, Christian -- weren't they all the same and believed in the same God? I remember my mom telling me over and over that Jesus was not God and that speaking in tongues was very very important. I believed that Jesus was not God and not divine for a long time, way into high school. Even after that point, I struggled for awhile with the concept and read a lot about the divinity of Christ. I remember when my mom and I were walking in the city one day when I was young, a woman came up to me and gave me a gospel tract that talked about hell, repentance, and the cross. Some people believe that tracts are useless (or that talking about hell might scare people away), but I truly believe that one tract had an influence in planting a seed in my heart about Christ and my need for Him to cleanse me of my sin. I knew of the reality of hell and was terrified to go there. I would lay awake at night thinking about it, wondering if I was REALLY saved.
When I was in 7th grade, for some reason, my parents put me in a Christian private school for a year and I believe it was there that I heard the true Gospel for the first time. Of course, I would raise my hand when the guest speaker at chapel would ask if anyone would like to "accept Jesus into their heart," but again, not sure exactly if that was when I came to Christ. Ever since then, however, it seemed I became very interested in Christian things and I would do research online, ask questions at Christian message boards, read my Bible, and even defend the Christian faith in my many online debates. Even though I never went to church during this time, I feel that helped me to grasp the concepts of Christianity. I believe, however, that by the time I was in high school I was a true Christian, although I would struggle with certain things even into college.
When I was in high school, I never went to church because my parents looked down on the idea. All I heard growing up was that all churches wanted was your money. They also did not believe baptism was necessary, so that was out of the question when I was living at home, although I always knew it was something I needed to do. When I went to college in the fall of 2004, I joined a few Christian ministries (namely Chi Alpha) and also a sorority and started going to church for the first time in my life (a Southern Baptist church). I feel that I grew the most as a Christian while I was in college, attending church and other ministries, and was able to live out my faith and really find out what I believed. Needless to say, my mom and dad had a few things to say about me being baptised and we have had quite a few discussions about my "new" belief that Jesus Christ is, in fact, God (which of course, is one of the ultimate and most important beliefs in Christianity). We have come to an unofficial agreement to not talk about religion because it mostly ends with them yelling at me for my "Satanic" beliefs. After meeting Thomas, and especially after we were married, I feel that I have grown even more in my faith. We challenge each other, encourage each other, love to talk about theology together, and share what we learn and love to read the Word together and discuss. Thomas has been the biggest Christian influence in my life and I am honored to call him my husband.
Even though I dont know when I was saved, I know that I am and that "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Phil. 1:6) I am excited about our new life in Jackson and seeing what God has planned for our family and raising a Christian family of my own, a concept that is honestly pretty foreign to me. I know I will need a lot of grace and wisdom from the Lord in order to do this. I know that I am a sinner and it is only by His grace that I am saved. Thank God that His mercies are new every day!
So there ya go. :)
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." John 3:16-18