Friday, December 24, 2004

My story...

After reading the Christian Webring topic on KR last night, I decided that it was time to share my story. There are so many misconceptions of "being born again" or about having some magical experience. What most people don't understand is that it is not of yourself, it is entirely of the Lord. Of course, until you have accepted what Jesus did for you, you can't understand that. I know, seems strange, but God's ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. That being said, here is my story.

I was not brought up going to church, although there was always a picture of Jesus hanging in my mother's bedroom. She talked of His forgiveness and told me about Him, but the only one that went to church on a regular basis was my grandmother. My other grandmother was very new age before it was cool. She was into astrology and did my chart (and everyone else's). She believed that she and her mother were clairvoyant, another story for another time. Anyway, from an early point in my life, I remember being drawn to the Bible. I enjoyed reading the Psalms and Proverbs, but I didn't get much out of it. I attended VBS, occasionally Sunday school, but had no formal church teaching. I had a friend in 5th grade who told me I would go to hell if I didn't accept Jesus. That just made me mad.

My new age grandmother had taught me that God was in everyone, that we were all God's children, that I could worship Him how I chose, especially through nature. So, I began to let my heart harden. I didn't want to hear about Christianity. There was a fear there. I remember being 10 or 12 and lying in bed-I was thinking about the fact that I knew Jesus would one day return to this earth. I thought about how I didn't really know who He was, but I knew that He was important and that when He did come back, I was doomed. I had no idea how to be saved.

Years went by, "evangelical Christians" ticked my off. They seemed so unenlightened. Surely God would change with the times, surely He understood the difficulties of our world. I was enlightened, I enjoyed learning about pagan religions, stepping into the "other world" occasionally. I was socially progressive, pro-choice, etc.. But, there was still an inner tugging I didn't understand.

In my early twenties, I made several big mistakes-so big they wrecked families. It was horrible but life went on. By the time I was 29, I had three young children, a marriage, a home, but I was scared to death. I still had this distinct fear of Christ's return.

Finally, the pastor from my mother-in-law's church started visiting. We talked about King Arthur and medieval history, we talked about upstate New York. He visited three times before he ever brought up spiritual things. So, during his third visit here he asked me, "If Jesus were to return today, would you go to heaven with Him?" I was shocked. How could he possibly know I was fearful of just that thing. I was also appalled-how dare he question my "relationship" with God. God knew I was a good person, He and I had made peace about my earlier sin. Blah, blah, blah! By the time he left, I was livid. Then things started to happen.

I had ordered a couple of books from my book club, when I received them, both were by Christians and told me the same thing the pastor had-you must believe in your heart that Jesus died for your sins and that God raised Him from the dead and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord. I still didn't understand. We went out for dinner that weekend, the table across from us was talking about sharing Christ with people on the death beds and they were so sincere-it was like the only agenda they had was people's eternal future. I was also drawn to the Bible-I couldn't put it down. The house was falling down around us, but I had to be reading that book. It was slowly coming together. I was beginning to understand who Jesus was and what He had done for me.

Finally, a newspaper arrived in the mail. It was a paper about Christians. These people were so sincere, so happy. How could I have that? I wanted freedom from my fear, I wanted peace in my heart. There was a little paragraph at the bottom of one of the pages. It had a prayer written there for accepting Jesus. It went something like this: "Dear God, I know that I am a sinner. That I am in need of a Savior. Lord, I believe that Jesus died on the cross for me. Jesus come into my heart and make your home there. In Jesus name, Amen". I read that over several times and then went into my bedroom and closed the door. I knelt beside my bed and prayed that prayer.

No tears, no lightning bolts, nothing-it seemed. I got up and went about the rest of my day. The next morning, I knew immediately from deep in my soul, I could never support abortion again. I knew that the Bible was the Word of God, was the authority.

None of this was from me, it went against every part of my being, so I knew that it was real. God had moved into my heart. That was almost 12 years ago. He continues to probe the depths of my soul, changing me, challenging me, testing me. He has proven Himself faithful through everything. He always keeps His promises. He can't do otherwise.

Being born again has nothing to do with some momentous experience, it is entirely of God. It is most often simply a willingness to listening to the still, small voice of God, to listen to His knocking and to open the door. God wants no one to perish, but all to come to a saving knowledge. I have peace now, I have freedom.


Amie said...

A very, very merry Christmas to you and all your loved ones, Dawn. I hope it's magical...

Kate said...

That is a beautiful and moving testimony! How wonderful that the Lord opened your eyes and your heart to Him!


Laura said...

Boy, it certainly was YOUR TIME, wasn't it? The Lord can be so gentle in His wooing of those that He wants back in the fold. I am glad you shared your testimony. Having Christ in our heart (so to speak) DOES make us a New Person, doesn't it?