I think one of the scariest things (for me at least) as a new Christian is one someone asks you to share your “testimony”. What is my testimony? Do I have one? Mine doesn’t sound too cool! Do I have to? I know for me, when the topic would come up, I would instantly clam up and wish I could disappear into my seat. But over time I heard from several people, the Pastor of my church, friends, and even reading on other blogs, how your testimony is just your story, and it doesn’t matter what that story is, because it is the perfect one that God chose to write for your life. To me my testimony is pretty unremarkable, I didn’t follow Christ from the time I was in preschool, nor did I have a movie worthy life altering moment of coming to Jesus after hitting rock bottom. My road to the Father was much more gradual, and seemed to slowly develop over time. But I have come to appreciate that that is the story the Lord chose to write in my life, and I am happy to share it
I grew up always calling myself a Christian. If someone asked what I was, or if I believed in God, my answers were always a resounding Christian and yes! But looking back, I now see that I just believed in God, I didn’t have a relationship with Jesus.
My parents divorced when I was 6 months old, and with the exception of a few random occurrences, I didn’t attend church growing up. My mom was a Christian, my dad was not, and with a changing visitation schedule and parents living a couple of hours apart from one another, going to church never really happened for me. I was also very shy, and an introvert to the extreme. I wasn’t a big fan of being around people, slightly because of being shy and fearful, and partly because I was kind of a germaphobe. I always had this pull and desire to go to church, but was too afraid of the amount of people that were there, and the unknown of what would happen. Do I have to sing? Why are people raising their hands? Stand up, sit down, offering basket, wow, there is so much do to and I am going to mess this up and everyone is going to be watching! I could feel the embarrassment just thinking about it. This fear kept me from going until I was 22, and while I don’t think you have to attend a formal church meeting to know the Lord, I didn’t have anyone else in my life that was really living and walking with Him to show me what that looked like, or to help me understand God’s Word and how to read it. I would often try to start reading my Bible like any other book, at the first page, and while Genesis is a beautiful story, by the time you are a few books in and everything is names and measurements, it was easy for a young girl to loose interest and give up trying to understand.
Everything changed in February of 2010, when a friend asked me to go to church with him. I was still nervous, but at the same time really excited. I started going every weekend, and before you know it I was hooked. I was blessed with going to an amazing church my very first time (Big Valley Grace in Modesto, California), where the people were welcoming and the pastor really spoke truth. He didn’t just give some speech about life topics like I had seen some TV pastors do, but he really dug into the Word of God and broke it down in a way that made it interesting, informative, and convicting. I actually began to understand what being a Christian was, and that it meant having a relationship with Christ, not following a rule book. That is meant Jesus was sacrificed for my sins and by believing in Him I was covered by His Grace, not that I had to hope at the end of my life I did enough good deeds and would measure up. That God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit were ONE (the trinity was a confusing concept for me for a long time), and that the Holy Spirit was inside of me. That I was loved despite my mistakes, and while I will never be perfect here on earth, Jesus lived a perfect life for me as an example and as a sacrifice.
After attending church for some time, I was feeling a really strong pull that I needed to be baptized. I’ll be honest and say it took me a lot longer to do than I wish it had. While God has done amazing things in my life to transform me into a new person, I still at times struggle with fear and embarrassment, and thinking about being in front of that many people (my church was pretty big), and not only being in front of them, but having to say something (even if it was only a word or two), and all while being WET and looking like a drowned rat, I was kind of terrified. But I knew it was something I needed to do to be obedient to the Lord. While the thought of it was nerve wracking, when it came time to actually do it I was surprisingly calm and happy, and I know the Lord just gave me His peace and joy, and that was by far one of the greatest days in my life.
Since then I have continued to grow in the Lord every day. My walk has been more like a hike, some ups, some downs, some hidden rocks in the path that you roll your ankle on, but also some of the most amazing views you will ever see. He has grown me in ways I never thought imaginable, and shown me that he is constant and faithful, never changing, that I only need to trust in Him.
“Truly, truly I say to you, he who hears my Word, and believes Him who sent me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgement, but has passed out of death, into life.” – John 5:24