Monday, December 31, 2012

My Testimony

I once was lost and now I'm found. This is my story of salvation - my testimony.

At some point in all our lives we will realize we are not enough on our own, For a long time (since before I can remember) I was aware of what the Creator of the universe did for me (die on a cross to sacrifice His life to pay the debt for my sins and the sins of the world, then come back to life to rule and love and lead His children) BUT I wasn't really allowing Him to do any of that... I ruled my own decisions, I refused to abide in His love (or anyone else's), and I lead myself. My worth was based on accomplishing the highest level of achievement in school, sports and anything, that if I put enough effort into, I could "win."

That was then - up until Sophomore year (2006) of college to be exact. I'd been Most Improved in every high school sport I did, I was senior class VP, I aced AP English, I was Salutatorian, I had so many scholarships to college I was getting paid to go, I had gotten nothing but A's in college, I was Dean's List ... I was pretty, I was in shape, I ate healthy, I was Daddy's Girl, teacher's pet, and ALWAYS top of the class. Oh, and yeah I was Christian too- on the side- God died for me, I knew that. He raise from the dead, I knew that. I was going to Heaven, I knew that. But that was a given- I was GOOD, and pretty darn PROUD of all "I had accomplished." God was an afterthought.

Then, well - little by little - I WASN'T enough. I got a B. I struggled in school. I worked 3 jobs and still struggled to pay rent. I wasn't happy, I cried, I couldn't sleep, I never saw my parents (no more daddy's girl), but somehow "I could figure this out." I never talked to God... Except to ask for something. He wasn't doing me any good! Why wouldn't He step in and bless me already!? I was a good girl, surely life was going to show me favor... I could always think, work, or talk my way out of any bad situation before. Why not now?

Desperate, I gave in to my friend's constant requests to attend a church group for college-aged youth called "Overflow" and started going weekly. I went for months, but in my personal life I still kept pressing on in my own power. Slowly but surely little seeds of God's character got implanted in my soul though, I learned He loved me when I was still a sinner, I learned that once I was saved I was a "new creation," I learned He had wanted to give me the Holy Spirit to fill me, I learned He would satisfy me, He cherished me, He could comfort me, and He could be my strength. I learned that He had promises for me that He wants me to have! (Below are just a few Biblical references and the paraphrased truths I learned about myself)

1 Corinthians 12:27
I am a member of Christ's body (Ephesians 5:30).

2 Peter 1:4
I have been given God's precious and magnificent promises by which I am a partaker of the divine nature.

Hebrews 4:16
I may come boldly before the throne of God to receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

1 Peter 2:5
I am one of God's living stones and am being built up as a spiritual house.

1 Peter 2:9,10
I am a part of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of God's own possession.

God, why do you do this? Why do you care? Why do you want me? Why can't I be who I want to be in my own power, I mean I try REALLY hard... [Because I want you to want Me, you need to need Me, I'd love for you to love Me... I love you and always have. I AM in control not you, Ruthie. Surrendering to My lead is not just a nice idea, it is THE (only) WAY you can get through this. Depend on My power, it is so so so much larger than yours- in fact, it has NO limit] These thoughts filled my heart and mind; now I knew something I couldn't unlearn: until I surrendered my life to Christ, I mean really gave up the fight- I would be living a much lesser and empty life than the perfect plan and beautiful life God designed me for. It was a heart thing. He wanted my heart, and He wanted me to voluntarily seek His will.

One teary night at Overflow, I finally surrendered. I gave in. I let Him love me. I let Him carry my burdens. I let Him fight my fights, and lead my path. I got baptized as an outward declaration of an inward decision to dedicate my life to Jesus - because He'd already given His to save mine. I didn't own me, He did; and whatever He wanted me to do, I'd do.

"We were buried therefore with Him by the baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious [power] of the Father, so we too might [habitually] live and behave in newness of life. Let not sin therefore rule as king in your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies, to make you yield to its cravings and be subject to its lusts and evil passions. Do not continue offering or yielding your bodily members [and faculties] to sin as instruments (tools) of wickedness. But offer and yield yourselves to God as though you have been raised from the death to [perpetual] life, and your bodily members [and faculties] to God, presenting them as implements of righteousness. For sin shall not [any longer] exert dominion over you, since now you are not under Law [as slaves], but under grace [as subjects of God’s favor and mercy]. For the wages which sin pays is death, but the [bountiful] free gift of God is eternal life through (in union with) Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:4, 12-14, 23 AMP)

So, did I become an overnight perfect person? Did I become sinless and righteous? No. I am still a sinner, and thank God that He covered my sins because as much as I yearn to do God's holy and righteous will- I still cannot! Not all the time anyways. You may ask then, what's the difference between my "before" and my "after"? Well... I KNOW God is my strength, I KNOW He loves me for for who I am- not what I do or accomplish, and I KNOW that even though I fail time and time again, and sin time and time again... He is my joy, my true treasure, and my hope. Forever! He's not going anywhere! He WANTS all my insecurities, failures, sins, and unworthiness - and I will keep bringing it to Him.

You know, I didn't write this testimony for a long time because I was waiting until my life looked more pretty - until people could look at it and say, "Wow, look what God has done! Look at all she's done through His power, look at how she's stopped doing _X_ sin and _Y_ sin, look at how she's cleaned up all that mess and God fixed her." Well guys, truth be told life will NEVER be sin, mess, or problem free. I will ALWAYS need Him! In fact, I rejoice in my failings because each time I am weak I realize yet again I need Him. He gets the glory. He forgives me, loves me, and saves me. Yes - through His spirit filling my life it has changed my heart to stop doing sins I used to do; but even now, through my sinful nature I do other new sins! Gack! No, I am not perfect - He is. I get that now. I abide in His grave and love, it never fails... It never even gets a B ;)

If you are lost like I was: life is something that you just can't win and you have some sin you just can't beat, let me encourage you: God has ALREADY WON for you! Your life has been won by your Savior and Creator, and you don't have to do this alone. Have you ever given your life to Christ? Do you believe in Jesus, like John 3:16 describes? If not, now is the perfect time to cry out to God and surrendering you life and all it's "mess" to Him. Believe that His death fully covers ALL your sin, and ACCEPT His free gift of eternal life. Ask Jesus to come into your hearth and make it new, make it like His.

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."
Romans 12:1

When I did give myself to God, I gave Him everything I am; everything I hope to be; all my dreams, visions, hopes and desires... I made everything His, and even as I continue to screw up, He demonstrates His power through my life! Only then - in full submission to Christ - can your test become your test-imony, and your mess become your mess-age. You don't get perfect when you serve Jesus; but you get grace, mercy and forgiveness when you aren't.

"Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you your heart’s desires." (In that order!) - Psalm 37:4 

God's will - God's plan- is supreme. I will rest in God's will. God will not allow something to come into my life that I cannot bear. It may seem like He is far away, but He has promised that He will never leave me. I know the Lord. He loves me. I will walk by faith in that truth. He hears my prayers because of my love for Him. This may be the greatest testimony I could have: clinging ever closer to His will for me through any terrible experience in my life. I was created for this one purpose, to love Him and be loved by Him.

"So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy." - 1 Peter 1:6-8

That's my story, I hope it gives you a good example of the hope and faith that is found in Jesus.


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