This year marks 25 years of me walking with Jesus. Surrendering my life to Him is hands-down the best decision I have ever made. And I have been thinking a lot about Romans 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”
Am I ashamed of the ways we, as believers, can twist Scripture and misrepresent Christ? Absolutely.
Am I ashamed of the atrocities that have been done in His name – horrendous acts that do not line up with His ways or His Word? Goodness, yes.
Am I ashamed of the ways I myself have mishandled the gospel over the years? Without a doubt.
But I am not ashamed of what I believe to be true – that salvation is through Christ and Christ alone. Not because I say so, but because He Himself said so. (John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”)
Someone recently asked me about my testimony, and I realized I have never shared it here on the blog. So I am pulling it into a new post today. I’m not going to do a bunch of editing because this is what poured out of a pure place of love and gratitude when I officially wrote it out 13 years ago. I loved Him then. I love Him now. And I pray this post speaks to someone’s heart and lets them know they are loved by Him and invited near. His hope is for everyone who will accept it.
What follows is my declaration of how giving my life to Jesus has changed me. It is my frank admission that I do not ever, ever, ever want to go back to a life that Jesus is not a part of. This is my story, and it is precious to me.
I grew up going to church. It was what we did. We went on Sundays. My parents dropped me off on Wednesdays. I learned my Bible stories. I even got baptized. I did not realize at the time that I was just playing church. I did not really understand what it meant to have a living, breathing, vital relationship with the Lord.
By seventh grade, I was fed up with pretending to like church. I thought it was full of a bunch of unloving hypocrites, and I wanted no part of it. I pulled away completely from God and anything that had to do with Him.
And I was a mess. I was one great big aching hole asking for someone to fill me up with love and approval. I tried to earn love in so many ways. Get good grades. Be a good girl. Do well acting, singing, whatever would bring accolades. But none of those satisfied.
Unfulfilled, my quest for love went further. I looked to guys to make me feel loved, and instead of walking away with more worth, I walked away with no worth whatsoever. Shame coated me, covered me, weighed me down. I was so good at pasting on a smile, but inside, I was filled with self-loathing. I could certainly never be called a good girl ever again. I was ruined… or so I thought, at the time.
And then, I met Jason. Jason is my husband. We worked together at a retail clothing store. We became fast friends, which led to dating, which led to his proposal. My heart was overjoyed. Someone wanted me. ME! I could not believe it. What I did not realize was that there was Someone who wanted me even more – Jesus.
In order to get married at the church his parents attended (Jason was not walking with the Lord at this time either), we had to get premarital counseling. I agreed, simply because I wanted to be with Jason. But something started happening during those sessions. A tugging at my heart. Truths I had once known were being spoken over my life again. I knew I needed Jesus. I knew that if my marriage was going to last, I needed the Lord back in my life.
It was while Jason and I were on our way to the Columbia Zoo that I surrendered my heart to Christ. I confessed that I believed Jesus had died on the cross for my sins and that He rose again from the grave. I asked Him to forgive all of my sins and help me live my life for Him. A small moment… just me, Jason, and Jesus. How simplistic it sounds, but it was the most important moment of my life. At that moment, Jesus welcomed me with open arms. My sins were forgiven. The promise that I would now get to spend eternity in heaven was sealed.
But my salvation was not all that He wanted for me. My heart was happy just for that. What more could I ask for? But He wanted so much more. He wanted to heal me. To heal me from my insecurities. To wash away the shame that I had carried for so long. To help me see that I am beautiful… not a word I ever used to describe myself!
Oh, friends… I don’t think there are words to describe what these past 12 years have been like. I was unclean, and He touched me! I was unlovely, and yet He wanted me! I was dirty and tattered and torn, and He has washed me clean and is mending me. He calls me lovely. He calls me beautiful. He says I was worth dying for.
I am still such a work in progress. Old lies rear their ugly heads. Insecurities still take over at times. But I am learning. I am learning to sink my roots down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. (Ephesians 3:17, NLT) I am learning to look to God and not people to meet my needs. I am learning to use God’s Word to find out who He is and who I am in Him – fighting the lies with His truth. He encourages me daily to draw closer to Him instead of running from Him when I feel ashamed or afraid. He is teaching me how I can better love others when I fully accept love from Him.
Isaiah 61:10 says, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with jewels.” He has called me His beautiful bride! He has given me beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness! (Is.61:3)
I know this is long. Yet this barely even scratches the surface of all that Jesus means to me, of all He has done. He is my Healer! He is my joy! He is my peace! He is my hope! He is my very present help in time of need! (Psalm 46:1) He is everything to me! And the fact that He wants ME…well, that still melts my heart.
I pray that you, too, know His love, His forgiveness, His freely offered salvation,