Tonight I had to give my testimony at church as part of the process of joining EBC. I'm not in love with speaking in front of groups of people, so I thought I'd organize my thoughts by writing down my story. I had never thought much about my own testimony before, so it was an interesting exercise. This is roughly what I said... It’s difficult to say when my testimony actually began because looking back I can see how the Lord was working in my life in many small ways before I knew Him. So we’ll start with a frantic phone call I made to a co-worker of mine. Just to set the context, I was an atheist and the co-worker whom I was calling was a Christian that I met about 6 months earlier. We had developed a friendship and I had introduced him to my husband. This co-worker of mine, Seth, shared his faith with us for several months. The phone call I made to him in April of 2002 went something like this:
“I’m scared, Jermaine is going to get saved tonight and that means he’ll change and if he changes it’s going to ruin our marriage”. Seth laughed and assured me that everything was going to be just fine, in fact, he said, Jermaine would be a better husband. I told Seth that Jermaine was perfect and that any “enhancement” would just ruin him. He laughed a knowing laugh, and we hung up. Unsatisfied, my next call was to Jermaine’s mom, a practicing Buddhist – surely she would relate. I told her that Jermaine was going to church to get saved and she proclaimed, “How wonderful! This will be great for your marriage”. I received no solace.
Jermaine did go to church that night; he walked down the isle and officially gave his life to Jesus. Looking back, we laugh thinking that he had “an appointment” to get saved; in fact he was saved the moment he decided to give his life to Christ, by the time I made that phone call to Seth, Jermaine was already saved.
I was right about one thing, my husband did change. The first change was that I saw him cry. We had been through weddings, deaths, and the birth of our children together, but I had never seen him shed a tear. But there we were one night on the sofa together, watching something on TV (for all I know, it could’ve been a commercial), and I heard something that sounded like a sniffle. I looked over at Jermaine and sure enough tears were rolling down his cheeks. Of course, they were very manly and masculine tears, but nonetheless he was crying…over something on TV. I remember thinking, "this is some kind of religion!"
Jermaine didn’t force Jesus on me, but he did pray for my salvation and he would smile and say things like “it’s only a matter of time” and then he would rub his hands together like he was conspiring with God. “First you, then my mother” [muahahaha].
Over the next several months I learned more about Jesus and about the Christian doctrine. I began listening to sermons on Christian radio, teachers like Chuck Swindoll, Charles Stanley, Adrian Rogers. I found these sermons to be uplifting and informative, but I hadn’t made a heart connection. During this time I also had a lot of questions for Seth. Almost daily, I would come up with a question to challenge the Christian faith, but he always had an answer.
I remember telling Jermaine that I just didn’t feel it. He encouraged me to tell God how I felt. He said, “just pray to God and ask Him, if You are out there, please let me know”. I didn’t see any harm in praying to a God that I didn’t believe in, so I tried it. Then a short time later, something happened. As Jermaine and his new Christian friends casually talked about Jesus, tears began rolling down my cheeks. I didn’t feel anything, just tears. I remember feeling so embarrassed because I had no idea where those tears were coming from.
A verse that I seemed to stick out to me was Revelation 3:20, Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
Approximately six months after that frantic phone call in April of 2002, the Lord answered my prayer and revealed Himself to me. I reached out my hand, turned the door knob and opened the door. I placed my hand in His and He pulled me into His arms, and He has never let go. Every year He just keeps drawing me closer and holding me tighter.
This blog post should come with a warning...so here it is: The images you are about to witness are disturbing...possibly nightmare inducing. Proceed at your own risk.
She's a natural blond.
Um, what is she doing?
Okay, we're all doing it now. I don't know what is going on with the hands, I think one person started it and we all just went with it. I don't know if we're karate chopping or praying to Jesus. Maya's rocking the fish pucker, I look like I am about to cry. In fact, I might be.
Poor Dirt, this is what he woke up to this morning. The kicker is, he had to mutter out how beautiful we all looked. Poor guy, he's going to have to confess that one.
There is just something about this sweet nephew of mine that my camera is drawn to.
I'm convinced that you haven't fully experienced the Clarke Trading Post train ride until you've ridden it with Will. I actually had no idea that we were even on a train because the only thing I was focused on was watching Will. That was truly all the fun I needed. My kids could've fallen overboard into the hands of the Wolfeman and I would have had no idea.
Who screams more passionately than this kid on the scream bridge? Who? I demand you tell me.
I think of them every day. Every day. That's not a stretch. And if I'm honest, sometimes I get frustrated about it. I realize that sounds completely selfish. I sit here in my nice comfortable little life and poor me, I have to think about the suffering of others. Uhg. I hate my selfishness.
I use to get mad at God for "dropping this burden" on me. You see, I was perfectly content when I was completely oblivious to the world's 147 million orphans. I didn't pray for them, I didn't hurt for them, I didn't cry for them, I just lived my life.
A few months ago I shared my feelings with Brandi, a friend who serves on RLC with me. She gave me a bit of wisdom that I have held onto. She said that she use to get angry with God because of her own hurting for orphans. Until one day, when she was in tears that were made up of both sorrow and anger, and He spoke to her heart, "How dare you? Don't you know that it is a privilege and an honor that I have shown you a little piece of my heart?".
And so it is. It hurts to hurt for others. Some days it feels like depression. Some days it's tears before bed when I think about the orphans who are close to my heart and what I would give to tuck them in and kiss their foreheads and wish them sweet dreams. Sometimes its on my knees pleading with God, asking Him to better their circumstances, or to keep them safe. Some days it's just thoughts, just ideas that float around my head about how I can be used to help. But it truly is an honor and a privilege to see a teeny tiny sliver of God's heart for those who are near and dear to Him.
For this privilege, I say "Thank You" to my Creator, and I say Amesege'nallo' to the orphans who have taught me so much. I can't wait to see them again.
Wendy and I are planning our next trip - hopefully Spring 2010. Let me know if you're interested in joining us.