Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My Testimony

Our church, Grace Church, is asking members to share their testimony.  The thought is that if we practice sharing our testimony in front of friends, it will be easier for us when we share it in front of strangers.  I was asked to share my testimony last Sunday.  Since the testimony part of the service is not taped, I will share it here:

Your Upbringing
Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."
It was a regular night.  My mom went to work at the night shift at the hospital.  My dad fed me dinner, bathed me, and put me to bed.  Then, he had an aneurysm and died in the living room.  My mom was suddendly left a widow with a 14-month-old baby.

Yet, God works for the good of those who love Him.  My mom made the decision and sacrifice to send me to a private, Christian school.  She knew that they would write the Scriptures on my heart.  She was doing her best to train me up in the way I should go.  I am forever grateful to my mom for making those sacrifices. 

However, when I was a teenager, I thought I knew best.  I had a boyfriend that persuaded me to stop going to church.  I was looking for love, since the loss of my father left a huge hole in my heart.  He was kind to me (at first) and lavished me with gifts.  That soon changed.  His words turned sour and he told me lies.  Lies that I believed.  Soon I believed that I was stupid, ugly, and worthless.  The physical and sexual abuse that followed was my fault, I thought.  After four years, I was able to escape to San Diego and start a new life.  Yet, God works for the good of those who love Him.  I have since been able to help a few other women who have been in the same situation. 

When You Came to Christ
In San Diego, I started to hear a familiar voice.  A quiet, loving voice.  Some people have loud, booming voices or big, tragic events call them to the Lord.  I think that if God had used that tactic with me, it would have been lost in the loudness of my life.  He used the quiet, loving voice of a Father.  When I gave my life back to Christ, I wanted to be a missionary to Mexico.  But, everytime I tried to call and get signed up, I never heard back from the ministry.  Then, one day, I got a letter in the mail telling me that I had been hired by Yosemite and I was to report to duty.  "But God, I want to work for free in Mexico and sleep on a dirt floor.  Are you sure you want to send me to a beautiful place where I will get paid?"  Apparently, God knows what He's doing.

In Yosemite, I met a man who was kind.  Loving.  He said nice things to me.  He drove 4 hours to get a new radiator for me, and then drove 4 hours back, only to install the radiator.  We spent our days off from work, hiking in the backcountry.  We fell in love and ten years later, we went on a hike and got married.  God works for the good of those who love Him.

What Has Helped You Grow in the Lord
The most important thing to me is my upbringing.  My mom made sure the Scriptures were written on my heart.  In the tough times, I have been able to refer back to them, repeatedly.  Just because I am not a child, doesn't mean that I can't still learn Bible verses.  I am amazed when I read "new" verses that I have never read before.  I challenge us, as adults, to continue to learn our verses and write them on our hearts.

Another survival "item" that has immensely helped me to grow is strong, Christian women.  I am so thankful that God has put wonderful women in my life who help me.  When I am frustrated, angry, scared they pray for me, teach me how to pray, or share verses with me.  I cherish these moments and wonder if I will ever be able to pay them back.  Their advice is invaluable to me.

Yet another way that I have grown in the Lord is through the hard times.  Fast forward to 3 years ago.  Joe was suddenly diagnosed with a genetic kidney disease.  At the time, the doctor told us that he would probably have 15 years before kidney failure.  I thought to myself, "well, at that time, the boys will be 18.  They will have known their father.  They will be grown."  We continued to follow the doctor's orders and kept living life.

Then, in October last year, everything came crashing down.  For some reason, Joe's disease had rapidly progressed.  To the point where he was dangerously in kidney failure.  The doctor wanted to start dialysis as soon as possible and get Joe started on looking for a donor.  This news hit us so hard and fast that it actually took us awhile to digest the severity of it all.  In December, Joe's levels got so low that he was within 30 days of dying.  I sobbed at nights.  Sobbed at the thought of losing my love, my friend.  Sobbed at the thought of my boys growing up without their daddy.  I knew that kind of life.  I certainly did not want that for them. 

God works for the good of those who love Him.  In the time since, we have been waiting.  Waiting for a donor.  We see our lives as hikes up a mountain.  We had been called to wait beside the water.  During the waiting, we grew closer together and closer to God.  Who could ask to be rescued from that?  Last week, Jesus appeared.  He stretched out His hand and told us to "Arise.  It's time.  Your journey continues." 

We found a donor that matches Joe

where Glory meets my suffering