My testimony is unique (aren’t they all?) in that I came to Christ somewhat recently and am able to remember the distinct moment my spiritual eyes were opened. I am grateful because my life was not “bad” before I became a Christian. In fact, it was quite the opposite – I had a pretty great life! I just wasn’t aware that I was destined for something even greater than what I already knew. I was blissfully unaware. I had a great childhood, a family who loved me and would do anything for me, wonderful friends. My earthly needs were always met.
I did not grow up in a “religious” home. We did not attend church, so Christianity was mysterious and unfamiliar. Still, I always longed for the truth. I believe God plants a spiritual seed in the heart of every person. That seed is always there, yearning and longing to be nurtured and cultivated.
As a child, I once wrote a prayer list and hid it under my mattress. My mom found the list while making my bed. She didn’t say anything, but I was mortified and ashamed. I remember staying up late one night watching an infomercial for holy water – for just $19.95 plus shipping and handling, I could buy REAL holy water. “If I could only buy this holy water, maybe God would heal Mom’s voice disorder.” I felt the presence of this spiritual seed, I just didn’t know what to do with it.
I remember asking my mom to take me to church. She indulged my curiosity, but I left feeling weird and out of place. I didn’t understand the church jargon. The same feelings would surface when attending church with friends after a weekend sleepover. Every other kid in Sunday school was sharing their favorite parable that applied to that week’s lesson, but I was totally clueless. “What is a parable? I don’t know a Bible story. I’ve never even read the Bible. I don’t belong here. What if they find out I don’t know about these things . . . will I get in trouble? Will her parents let me come over again?”
Flash forward about ten years. I was in college, and the coworkers at my new job were very outspoken about their faith. This time, strangely, I didn’t feel pressured by them to fit into the “box” of Christianity. My new friends made me feel loved, and the way they shared the gospel didn’t make me feel broken. This love watered that seed in my heart, and I was growing more curious about this “Jesus” of whom they so often spoke. Maybe my quest for spiritual truth wasn’t as difficult and complicated as I’d made it out to be.
I prayed my first prayer driving home from work one day: “God, if you’re real… I’d really like to know you. I just don’t think I can commit yet. Will you help me get my toes wet? Can I just take it slow, one step at a time?” This was also the first time I felt the Holy Spirit in all His glory. I like to describe this feeling as the fizz of a soda that has been shaken, rising from the tips of my toes, to the top of my head, and then overflowing. God was speaking to my heart: “I am real, and I would love nothing more than to know you. I am here with you every step of the way.”
My spiritual eyes started opening the moment I realized that the Creator of the universe was pursuing my heart, but it wasn’t until I fully committed my life to Jesus that I could finally see. I am grateful for my childhood, because now I’m able to look back with perfect clarity and see how the spiritual seed in my heart was beginning to sprout, how God was constantly saying, “Here I am!” How grateful I am that my Heavenly Father is the very epitome of patience, that He never gave up on pursuing my heart.
Life changed pace the very moment I became a Christian. No longer was I striving to be good enough. No longer was I relying on my own strength. No longer was I counting on others to tell me what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’. No longer was I ashamed. These are the confessions of a new Christian: I didn’t need a lifetime of religious doctrine to be right in the eyes of God. I only needed to open my eyes!
Thanks to my right-brain tendencies, my mind paints an artwork depicting the expanse of my life thus far. In its simplest form, I can see my life divided into two distinct parts. April 3, 2013, is the chasm separating these two parts. I imagine this transition as a massive, glorious explosion. In that moment, I could feel the angels singing and celebrating all around me. I truly believe that heavenly fireworks happened that day, because that’s exactly how I imagine it. Everything before that day was a prelude to something greater. As I was living it, my life was two-dimensional. Now I am able to look back on this time with new eyes to see God’s fingerprints all over my life. Like Jacob, I came to the ultimate realization: “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!”
Now God has equipped me to do greater things than I could have ever imagined. The best part is this: He’s equipped me to do these things in a constant state of spiritual rest. God saw my fear of speaking and said, “Speak.” He saw my dreams of going out into the world and said, “Go.” He saw my hardened heart and said, “Be soft.” He has even provided me a platform to share these things with you today. In all of these instances, I was divinely equipped. No longer was I relying on my own strength. He carried me through, and He will carry me forever.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
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