Friday, June 24, 2005

Can I get a Testimony?

Tonight I'm speaking at a women's retreat. When the organizer contacted me, she said, "We want you to share your testimony."

I said, "Oh, okay." But inside I was shouting, "Woo hoo!"

I love sharing my testimony. For one thing, the research is really easy. ;) But that's not the main reason. I love it, because I have an excuse to look back over my life and remember God's kindness and mercy to me.

Since this is all fresh on my mind, I thought I'd share part of my story with you.

When I was a little girl, my parents took me to church. They were the kind of people who were "Christian" in the same way they were proud-to-be-middle-class Americans. It was just the right thing to do. I can't say for certain that no one in my church knew Jesus, but I can say that I never understood who He is or what it means to follow Him.

As a preteen I quit going to church. Frankly, I just wanted to sleep in. If someone had asked me, I would have said, "Oh, yeah. I'm a Christian. I joined the church in the 4th grade." As far as I knew, that was it. Church member=Christian.

Then came junior high. I may write a book about junior high some day and call it Torture for the Teen-age Soul. I felt lost in a sea of social scrambling--everyone trying to figure out who she is and where she fits in. I didn't have a clue who I was, and it scared me. But it never occurred to me that God might be the missing part of the equation. After all, I'd joined the church in the 4th grade. What more could God want from me? And besides, those goody-goody types really got on my nerves. I didn't want to hear about their mission trips and their Christian music. Puh-leeeeze! Give me my top forty and a week at the beach, thankyouverymuch.

Fast forward to tenth grade. I'm not even sure exactly what happened, but isn't that the way of the Holy Spirit? When school started that year, certain people I knew seemed to have a glow about them. I don't know how I knew it, but I knew they had the peace I lacked. So I started hanging out with them. Maybe it would rub off, I thought.

Several of these friends invited me to a weekly event called TNT (Tuesday Night Thing), at which staff people from Campus Crusade talked about knowing God. The goal was for the student members of Campus Crusade to invite their nonChristian friends. I slipped into this scene as one of the Christians inviting the nons. But then a strange thing happened.

We held the meetings at a student's home. One evening that autumn, I sat on the couch listening to a man named Rick Perry. I don't remember anything Rick said that night, except for this: "If you want to be a Christian, you have to make Jesus Lord of your life."

Instantly a battle erupted in my mind. My thoughts went something like this: "Jesus isn't my Lord. I am. But if I'm my Lord, then I'm not a Christian. And if I'm not a Christian, I'm going to hell."

Let me pause here to say that it's remarkable I even believed in hell. My parents didn't. I don't remember learning about it at church. Chalk up another one to the Holy Spirit. Back to my thoughts.

"But if I make Jesus my Lord, that means I have to obey Him. He may tell me to give up some of my friends, or dancing, or my music. He may even send me as a missionary to Africa."

It's still amazing to me that I even thought these things. I'd never heard about "counting the cost" or "setting your hand to the plow and not looking back." But that's what I was doing. If I made Jesus Lord, it was going to be my "final answer."

For a few tense moments I honestly wondered if I could make this choice. But then a question formed in my mind. "Who made you?"

I thought, "God did."

Another question followed. "Then who will make you happiest?"

I was sixteen years old when I answered that question, "God will." I set my hand to the plow that night, and I've never looked back. Has the road been easy? Heh heh. Not a chance. Would I trade it for anything? No way! In every sorrow, Jesus has been my comfort. In all my confusion, He has brought peace. And I know my life is counting for eternity, because I am His.

Next week I'll tell you a story about something God showed me in college. It's a picture He gave me in my mind that I've never forgotten, and I'd love to paint it with word brushes so you can see it, too.

If you haven't decided to follow Jesus yet, I encourage you to answer these questions: Who made you? And who will make you happiest? You were created for a purpose. Let Him take you there, and the adventures will never end.

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