Note: I know this post is long, but I didn’t want to edit it too much after writing it. I wanted it to be raw and honest.
I believe we all have a story to tell. Our lives are sprinkled with joy, pain, love, excitement, disappointment, accomplishment and everything in between. Those experiences are meant to be shared, whether while we are living through it or after we have recovered.
One of the greatest witnessing tools we have available to us is the story of how Jesus enhanced our lives and gave us eternal life. My testimony is a public sign displaying the personal work of God’s grace in my life. It is just one example of God’s unstoppable love. It is Just One Life.
As long as I can remember, I always believed in God. Sunday mornings consisted of Sunday school and church. It was something I “just did.” Going through the motions, I would sit meaninglessly in church and listen to the pastor; however, nothing ever stuck. When I thought about God, which I admit was hardly ever, I believed that as long as I did not do anything too bad, surely I would go to heaven.
Once I hit high school, I began to stray further and further away from the church. My actions continuously separated me from Him, but I did not care. I began to fill the emptiness and insecurity with meaningless things and people.
Going into college, I continued with my ways. However, I slowly began to realize that these things and people I filled my life with only satisfied me for a short while, and I was still left with that feeling of emptiness. Nothing seemed to fill that. My freshman and sophomore years passed by in what seemed like a blink of an eye, without me even having the slightest interest in my Creator.
As my junior year of college began, after meeting a classmate once, he invited me to a student-led worship held on campus. I wondered to myself why this stranger was so welcoming and encouraging. He did not even know me. I said I would think about it, but what I really was saying was no. That same week, my suitemate invited me to go to the student-led worship too. I was reluctant to say yes. The idea of going back to church was incredibly nerve-racking to me. Surely I would not fit in. I didn’t know God, but I agreed to go.
That was undoubtedly one of the best decisions, if not the best decision, I have ever made in my life.
During the worship, it was amazing to see so many students, each having their own story, come together for one sole purpose – to worship God. I could see the passion and love for Him in each and every one of them. After it was done, many gathered to talk with one another. I knew no one, but by the time I left, I had met over half of them. I never had met people that were so welcoming and sincere. Many invited me to their church the following Sunday. Needless to say, the experience was emotional and eye opening.
That following Sunday, I went to church with a group of them. The pastor spoke about things that just flew over my head. I felt too short to comprehend. I left feeling defeated. How could I do this? I did not fit in. I knew nothing.
The next week, I attended the student-led worship, where a pastor from a nearby church spoke. She talked about the love Christ has for each and every one of us. It was a moment when things began to “click” – an “ah hah” moment if you will. That night I prayed to God and told him that I didn’t just want him, I needed him in my life. I knew I could not do it on my own, and I no longer wanted to. I wanted a personal relationship with Him.
Throughout the next couple weeks, I continued to attend the student-led worship and decided that I wanted to try a different church, but had no idea how to go about that. I was not the type of person to just try a church out by myself. To this day, going into a church that I know no one at makes me uneasy. To be honest, I just got slightly used to sitting by myself sometimes at church, but it isn’t my favorite.
One day, I asked the classmate I had met awhile back, if he had a church he attended while at school. He explained that he went to the church whose pastor was the person who had spoke at the student-led worship. The first week I went, there was a flash mob during the service. I thought to myself, what is this? This was not like the churches I attended when I was younger, and I loved it! I knew I was in the right place. I could see the passion the congregation had for Christ, and it was so moving and inviting. This was the first time I felt that I belong within a church.
That same day, I attended a bible study. It was frustrating. I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. They were having deep conversations about God, and I was just trying to figure out who He even was and what He was all about. I felt like everyone knew their relationship with God, and I was still trying to dig myself out of a hole I had made. That night I decided to read the bible, which I had not read in I don’t know how long. I had no idea where to even start, so I just flipped to a random page and began to read, “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst,’” (John 6:35). I was the first time I had ever thought that God might be speaking to me.
Christ has made a dramatic difference in my life. I feel Him working in my life. He continues to bless, transform, lift and encourage me. Throughout the years, God has led me to learn a lot about Him and myself. I am constantly amazed by his love. God loves all of me, even the things I don’t like about myself. That is amazing! I remember sitting in the student-led worship one night and one of my very good friends was speaking. She said, “There are so many people in this world, and God knows your name. He knows you by name and wants a personal relationship with you.”
Since truly accepting God, I have been given a new perspective on life. I want to live a life He is proud of. My thoughts, attitudes and actions are shaped by Him. I have changed the way I view and treat relationships. Looking back at my past relationships, I see that many were empty. Now, I have people that truly inspire, encourage and care about me. I could not be more grateful for the people God has put in my life. Even the people God has faded out of my life has been a blessing in disguise.
I am not saying I do not have bad days. At times, I find myself trying to convince God that if only He would make “this” happen, then everything would be good. By doing this, I tell Him that I know what is best for me, not Him, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. I can find myself wandering at times, but the emptiness I once felt has subsided. Within my heart, I now have this overwhelming hunger for the Lord. I desire to learn more about Him and become closer to Him.
Before I end this, I just wanted to share one thing I have discovered and relied on heavily recently. I have found this calmness and steadiness in the idea that God has glorious plans for me. He has glorious plans for each and every one of us. While I may not understand it and get frustrated at times from feeling like He is ignoring me, I remain grounded in the fact that I do not control time….HE DOES. Psalm 46:10 says, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” We were made to lean on God in dependence. When we let God control our lives and trust that He knows best and has our best interest at heart, we are able to breathe and stop striving. This enables us to ultimately experience peace.
Even though it is not always easy, I know it is all worth it.