Jesus has been a part of my life since the beginning – well, since before my life began if you want to go further than that. My dad was “born and raised” in church as was my mom. So, my younger sister and I couldn’t help but be, right? We grew up in the same church where my mom had gone her whole life. As children, we sang in the children’s choir, went to Vacation Bible School (VBS), participated in church fundraisers, and went to youth lock-ins and retreats. You name it, and we did it if it was church-related.
I never felt forced toward God though. It was just an expectation that my parents had that they made clear to my sister and me: If you live in this house, you will go to church. So, I went. I was christened as an infant. I read my Bible. I went to Sunday school. I invited my friends to VBS. I went through confirmation and joined the church. I took communion. I was an acolyte. But, there was never a time I thought any of that would get me into heaven. I knew what salvation was and that only salvation would get me into heaven.
As some point, I told my piano teacher that I understood that I could die at any time. I told her that I knew I wasn’t going to live forever; I wasn’t invincible just because I was young. I must have been 10 or 11. She told me that since I was mature enough to accept that fact, I was ready to be saved.
Now, I have to tell you, I have no idea why I was compelled to tell her this! She wasn’t someone I was particularly close to or with whom I have a spiritual connection. I guess my preteen self just had this on my mind at the time and she was the one who I felt I could tell. Who knows! Whatever the reason for the conversation, it has stuck with me as something that was part of what led me to accept Christ as my Savior.
Then, when I was about 12, I was at a lock-in at my church. We stayed up all night and watched a series of movies about Jesus’ second coming when He will rapture the living Christians to heaven and about the tribulation and what will happen to people who become Christians during that time. (This wasn’t the Left Behind movie series; it was earlier than that).
What I remember most is the depiction of the tribulation and what life would be like for people who became Christians after the rapture. In particular was a scene where Christians were being beheaded because they wouldn’t renounce their belief in Jesus Christ. The guillotine and the actual beheadings weren’t shown, but what was happening was clearly discussed so I knew what was going on. The scene played out in a dungeon or cell where the Christians were being held. Someone was coming to get them, one by one, to take them out to the guillotine. They were given one last chance to renounce Christ. If they didn’t, they were beheaded on the spot. I remember this scene especially because there was a child in the dungeon. Just before he was taken, the adults told him that he’d be asked if he loved Jesus. He told them he would say that he did. Then, the adults told him that he’d be laid down on a stone. They told him to close his eyes and the next thing he knew, he would see the Lord. Then, the bad guys came and got him and gave him a red balloon. He goes out with them; you see the sky through the dungeon’s window, you hear the guillotine fall, then the red balloon rises past the window.
I can only imagine what must have been going on in that 12-year-old brain of mine as I watched that movie. My heart is racing and I am breathing a little faster just thinking of that scene.
At this point, I must be totally honest and tell you that I don’t want to tell you any more of my story. I am embarrassed and ashamed. When God started working on me to write a blog and share my testimony, I told Him no. Me! I said no to the King of the World! I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want people to know who I’d been and what I’d done.
But, if God has ever convicted you to do something, you know He won’t let you go until you obey (remember Jonah?!). I kept telling Him no, and He kept pursuing me and encouraging me.
Earlier this year, a friend encouraged me to find out how other Christians were blogging. So, I started looking around and found several blog posts by Ann Voscamp. One series of posts in particular was very inspiring, so I prayed and journaled about what I was reading; I wrote my thoughts, my fears, and my prayers.
Finally, God showed me that people have to see who I was so they can know who God is. This is why He gave me this life – my story. And this is what He intends for me to do – write it for you so you’ll know that God loves you. So, I’ll put aside my fear and obey. If you’ll keep reading, I’ll keep writing.
Has God ever convicted you of something, and you said no? What did God want you to do? How did He pursue you? Did you finally obey?