Wednesday, March 23, 2011

MY TESTIMONY

OK, so...... a little background would be helpful... here goes. My parents are Baptist. When I was young we moved a lot and never really stayed anywhere long enough to set down roots in any particular church ...until I was about 12 years old... and let me just say... at this age, I was not very happy about going to church...in fact I HATED it....really and truly I despised going ...why?  Because in Baptist church, you cannot just go, sit through it and then go back to your life without someone asking something of you.  At the end of most Baptist sermons is the Invitation.... if you are not familiar with it, that is when the pastor asks you.... have you personally accepted Jesus as your Savior?  Have you invited Him into your heart? Have you asked for forgiveness of your sin?  Does Jesus lead your life?  If so, the free gift of salvation is yours...if not, well .... Can you see why I hated it so?  I was constantly being called out, it was so annoying.  During my teen years I was just WAY too cool to follow Jesus, all I wanted was to listen to my music and have my parents and Jesus leave me alone.  Eventually I stopped going and vowed never to return to the Baptist church.

At 22 I marry my first husband, a nonbeliever...and it did not turn out well.  After 5 years of what I had thought was the world's greatest marriage and the birth of our son, he walked out the door to be with his girlfriend.  I was beyond devastated, I was destroyed.  L1 was 4 months old.  I cried out to God "Why, Why, Why? How can you let this happen?"  I believed that God existed somewhere out there, but I never really called on Him for anything unless there was a problem.  I prayed and asked for His help...but I still never asked Him to be my personal savior....I never even considered giving my life over to Him, I just selfishly wanted Him to fix mine, in my way and in my time.

At 29 I married again, this time going through the Catholic RCIA conversion program since my husband's family was Catholic.  I knew absolutely nothing about the Catholic faith, but I was so excited because I thought this meant that he at least believed God existed.  L2 was on the way and I was doing what I thought would unify our new family.  And I was happy to do it.  I finally thought I had found the answer.  I went to my classes, I learned my prayers, did my sacraments... but still somehow I did not feel close to God.  I brushed it off.  I thought it was my fault.  I knew I was doing everything wrong at church.  I thought maybe if I could just remember how to use the holy water and genuflect and to receive the host the right way it would be better.  I kept trying harder to do it all right.  But still I just felt lost amidst it all. 

As part the schedule of sacraments, when L1 was in 1st grade we signed him up for Wednesday night prep classes.  Because of his autism, I attended classes with him all year and was actually excited to do so since I had not been to these as a child, like most Catholics.  I thought they would help me understand the faith better.  He was having a really hard time in class and towards the end of the year I realized that I simply could not put him through anymore of it.  After having a full day at school where he was already overwhelmed, the class was pure torture for him.  He would sit flipping himself out of the chair, roll around on the floor, his face and ears would turn bright red, he would knock over the desk and he would cry.  Often he would not be able to calm down even after we returned home.  I was wondering what this was all for anyway.  This teacher was not talking about Jesus.  We were memorizing prayers... for months we did nothing but read and recited 3 prayers... all while we turned to stare at a framed picture of the pope.  Something inside me was restless.  This just did not feel right, but I could not put my finger on why. 

Since L1 was having such a difficult time sitting through the class, I inquired the next year about options for learning the material at home instead and was told that 2nd grade was a very important year because of preparing for first communion.  I was told my child would have to physically attend classes at the church if he was "to participate fully in the faith" aka receive the sacrament of first communion.  I thought about what it meant to take communion and knew even if L1 somehow mangaged to memorize all the right prayers in time, that he would not have any real understanding of what he was praying... and if he did not understand what the prayers meant, what was the point? 

In pondering over this I remembered something else.  R and I had not gotten married in the Catholic church because of the fact that I was divorced.  We tried, but were told that in order for the Catholic church to marry us, we would have to pay $500 to them and get my first marriage annulled in the eyes of God and the church.  In the process of the annullment the church would contact my exhusband and ask for his opinion on the matter.  At this time relations with my exhusband were somewhat strained.  Even though it was his decision to walk out on our marriage, he was angry that I had moved on and that L1 was going to have a Stepdad. The grass was no longer greener for him with his girfriend.  I had no idea what he would say if the Catholic church called him up and asked for his consent to have our marriage blotted out so I could move on and marry R.  I started thinking about this and realized that... My ex was an atheist.  We were married in a civil ceremony by a justice of the peace.  At that time I was basically an agnostic. I started to wonder was my first marriage even valid in the eyes of God?  R and I were running out of money, so in the end we opted to be married by an Episcopalian priest in an outdoor ceremony.  We figured at some later time we would persue the annulment and have our marriage blessed by the Catholic church.  But still I felt a little uneasy... according to the Catholic church we were not really married at this point.

I remembered something else from when I went to my first confession that really struck a cord in me.  At the time I had simply brushed this aside, but the thought of it just kept coming back to me now.  I went to my first confession a few months into the RCIA program when I was told to go.  I was very apprehensive about it because I was riddled with guilt over the fact that I was divorced, had not gotten an annulment yet and I was terrified that God had already condemmed me for it.  I was crying as I spoke to the priest confessing this.  I was so upset and felt like God could never love me for being divorced.  The priest told me I needed the annulment to make it right.  He then kept the confession centered on masterbation.  He repeatedly asked me if I was commiting the sin of masterbation.  Mind you I was still crying over the fact that I was condemmed for being divorced.  I repeatedly told him I did not masterbate. I was married to R for goodness sake.  But no matter how many times I denied it, he kept asking me.  Did he not believe me?  I was there for confession, why would I lie?  The whole thing made me feel uncomfortable sitting face to face with an eldery celebate man who continued to ask if I masterbated.  I confessed a few other things. I don't even remember what at this point and he gave me my penance...say 3 Hail Marys and one other prayer, I forget which one.

The priest never mentioned

Matthew 19:9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”


I came across this verse later and found it the key to the end of feeling condemmed by God.  My ex had been unfaithful to me, so in God's eyes I was not condemmed for divorcing him over it. I was not committing adultery by getting married to R because my ex had been the one to commit adultery.  God understood me He could love me and forgive me afterall!  Why did the priest not tell me this?

This was probably one of the hardest decisions of my life but with a heavy heart I came to my husband with the prospect of leaving the Catholic church.  Even when he agreed with me the decision was still hard and full of guilt.  According to the Catechism of the Catholic church there is no salvation outside of its walls, if one has knowledge of the Roman Catholic church's existence.  We would now be considered heritics and would be accursed in the eyes of the Roman Catholic church. That was kind of scary.  But I felt like we had no choice.  How could we stay in a church that had no place for my son with autism?

We tried another church and talked about going to others, but always found an issue that would keep us at home on Sunday mornings.


In many ways God continued to call to me during this time but I was blinded to my need for a savior by the fact that I thought I was a good, nice person (ha!).  Then in June 2010 Jesus showed up and changed me forever.  I went to the endodonist for a root canal.  I used to be one of those people who would freak out during dental procedures.  I would shake... cry... I couldn't breathe. Literally I would be terrified.  I needed nitrous oxide gas and I needed a lot of it!  I went in this day and they hooked up my nitrous mask....it was not working... this is very very very not good.  They tell me I can reschedule, but I really want this tooth fixed....i am tired of tooth pain.  So I tell them to just go ahead and I do what I always do when I need help....I selfishly pray.... I lay in the chair for 45 minutes and prayed for every single person or situation that I can even remotely think of where I want God to fix something.  I am still terrified.  I began to pray  desperately,

"HELP ME! HELP ME! HELP ME!". 

Then something happened that has forever changed my life.  There are really no words that I can use to adequately describe this.  But.... I was suddenly paralyzed.  I felt a blinding white light, a light so bright and all enveloping it made any other light I had previously seen with my human eyes seem like a dim nightlight. It was everywhere all at once.. in front of me, behind me, it was going through me.  And when I say felt... I mean felt. My eyes were clenched tight.  I could not see anything. How can you feel a light?  This is why I say there are no words to adequately describe it... because I FELT LIGHT. And I felt this amazing feeling deep down inside of my chest...it was like a burning, a searing JOY.  It was as if the very cells in my body were like magnets being pulled toward Him.  It was a feeling that eclisped any other human emotion I have ever felt.  It was JESUS and it was GLORIOUS... being in His presence was like every puzzle piece clicking into place all at once... and there is nothing else on this earth that even comes close to it.   I heard something, but it was not the sound of a voice exactly.  I suddenly was overcome with a feeling... that feeling was...

"LET ME IN."

I knew immediately it was Jesus... there was no question... there was no hesitation... instantly I was inviting Him in.  I told Him to take over, lead me to where He wanted me.  I don't remember much else after that.  I just lay there full of joy and wonder.  I was stunned.  How had this happened?  I never had a thought or intention of inviting Jesus into my heart when I first starting praying.... it never even occurred to me that I needed to.  Quite simply, after years of asking for help... I guess He decided to reveal to me exactly what I needed to do to get the help I kept asking for all these years.  I left that day and not much happened...not at first.....

Then I began to find myself at odd times thinking about the Bible....so I starting picking it up and reading....I started having lots of questions...i found myself on the Internet looking for answers...things were happening...slowly...

Fall rolls around. This year I am homeschooling both kids and L1 starts to have major problems. His anger and temper are out of control.  He is throwing tantrums and hitting me constantly.  I do something I swore I would never do.  I go to his doctor and ask for medication. We try it and it is a disaster.  It makes him worse...somehow he is even more angry and uncontrollable.   I am a serious wreck... crying all the time... literally at my wits end... i am thinking of switching doctors to get more serious medicine for him....then i realized i had forgotten about something..... GOD.  I was down here running around like a lunatic trying to solve this problem with earthly means, and not once had i ever thought to ask God for help... or more importantly to GIVE THIS PROBLEM UP TO HIM. 

HAVE FAITH THAT GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF IT. 

This problem was not bigger than God, and I needed to tell him that I had finally realized that.  This is when everything changed for me.  The moment I gave up worrying over this problem and gave it up to Him is when I finally put my full faith in Jesus.  And it was the moment that things with L1 started to get better.  As suddenly as it began the extreme behaviors stopped.  He stopped hitting me.  He stopped throwing things at me.  And my attitude was better for dealing with the outbursts he did have.  I was calmer, it was not the end of the world anymore and I trusted Jesus to take care of it. He is the only one who can and He has been doing just that.

I had been praying for the Lord to lead me to a church and when I heard His answer I was in shock.  I had come before God and given Him my two choices, two non denominational churches, and asked Him which one would be better.  Oh my!  This is hilarious to me now!  I remember the night he spoke to me so clearly... His answers was MBC, my parent's church... you know, the one I had had vowed to never enter again.  This was not the church of MY choice.  My immediate response after I picked up my jaw was a big ol "NO!"  First of all I did not think this church would go over well with my husband, and second of all I was just plain annoyed!  I just didn't want to go there, that was the place I had dug in my heels and told Him "no" so many years before... and honestly now I think that is part of the reason He sent me back there.  It took me a few months to obey, but I did and that is what I am still learning now....obedience.

Shortly after that I started taking the kids to an art class and found myself sitting in a room with 4 other homeschooling moms...all of them Catholic.  We had nice conversations, then there was a question about my faith.  I answered in the most honest and tactful way I could muster.  Then I left and said "Um....Lord?  Are you trying to tell me something? Are you saying you want me to be Catholic?"  I was then led on a quest through the Scriptures looking for the truth.  I found a few Catholic apologetics resources online and started reading the New Testiment, all of it.  I read through the explanations and verses cited by the catholic sites and asked the Holy Spirit to be my guide.  My prayer was to find the truth. "Lord please let me find the truth in Your Word. If you want me to be Catholic, please let me know because I want to do this Your way."  What I found was very enlightening to say the least.  Somehow the Bible was making sense to me.  This had certainly never happened before when I had tried to read anything from it.  That is the power of the Holy Spirit!

It is amazing to me what a difference it makes to look to the Scriptures first to determine how you should worship... let the Scriptures be your guide.  Read them in context... then ask God to help you understand... He will not fail you.  If you ask Him for truth, He will reveal it to you.  Do not pluck from the Bible to justify man-made doctrine, instead look at the scriptures first then make sure your church follows them.  There is a difference.

But God is so good.  He prepares us in so many ways.  And through this trial He prepared me for something that I never saw coming... a challenge from the one person I would have never expected to be challenged by...  My point is not to judge anyone else.  Your personal relationship with God is between you and He alone.  Only you can hear what He is saying to you.  Each one of us has our own journey.  People are saved by their true belief in Jesus Christ and saved people can be anywhere.... in any church or not in a church.  But I would urge anyone who has questions about their church or faith to just simply read the Bible, start in the New Testament...it is all there.  Ask God the help you.  He will.

My journey to being saved certainly has not followed any checklist. I never prayed the "Sinner's Prayer".  Jesus literally reached out and saved me.  He poured grace on me.  And He has lead every step pf the way since then.  That first day my prayer was simply for Him to take over my life, to lead me.  He led me first to the Bible, then through a problem to firmly establish my TRUST in Him.  Although I had been led to confess a few specific sins previously, as I was standing atop the steps over the baptism pool I was overcome with the full weight of shame and sorrow over the complete sinful rebellion of my past life.  And that weight was immediately lifted as I spoke from my heart to the Lordand asked for forgiveness.  Come to the Lord with a heart that truly seeks him and He will lead you! I feel the Holy Spirit guiding me everyday and my main focus is to do all I can to listen and be led in the direction He wants for me.  I cannot wait to see all He has in store!

For so many years I thought that God was out there somewhere...but He was not close to me because I had not asked Him to be....I was only praying for help when I had problems...but that is not the way my friend, I know because He told me so...I was not saved by a vague idea that God exists...I was saved when I believed that Jesus died for ME and asked Him to be Lord of MY life.

We are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God...not one of us is righteous, no not one...our attempts to do good are as filthy rags to the Lord...the wages of sin are death...BUT GOD so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life...by faith we are saved, it is a gift from God not of works, least any man should boast...confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, believe in your heart God rasied Him from the dead and you will be saved...believe, repent, be baptized and recieve the Holy Spirit...all of those who receive Him and believe on His name, He gives the right to become the children of God...we were buried with Christ by baptism and raised up with Christ because of our faith in God's power...now walk in newness of life....


To pay for your sins Jesus was crucified, died, was buried and rose again on the third day.


My question for you is this:  Have you accepted Jesus Christ alone as your Lord and Savior?  In what are you trusting for salvation?  Your family traditions?  Your church?  Your attempts to do good?  Jesus paid it all with His precious blood on the cross.  Trust in Christ alone and He will save you. Is Christ in your heart?  If you are uncertain, make sure you give Him an open invitation to come in and take over your life. HE WILL and all in heaven will REJOICE!


So why are you reading this today? 

Are you here to rejoice in another salvation?

 Or is He speaking to you?



John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever BELIEVES in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me. "

Acts 8:36-38 Then Phillip....preached Jesus to him. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water.  And the eunuch said "See, here is water.  What hinders me from being baptized?"  Then Phillip said, "If you BELIEVE with all your heart, you may."  And he answered and said " I BELIEVE that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Phillip and the eunuch went down into the water and he baptized him.


Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

Romans 8:9-14 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.  Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.  And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  For as many are led by the Spirit of God, these are the Sons of God."

John 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit:
 for without Me you can do nothing."

Galatians 5:22-25 But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.  Against such there is no law.  And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Matthew 7:20 "Therefore by their fruits you will know them."

Matthew 7:21-23 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord', shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name?' And I will declare to them, 'I never knew you...' "

Romans 1:18-22 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them, for since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Professing to be wise, they became fools.

Matthew 7:7-8 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened."

Romans 10:9-11 that you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and BELIEVE in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one BELIEVES unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Romans 7:18-20 Therefore, as through one man's offense judgement came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in the justification of life.  For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many were made righteous.  Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound.  But where sin abounded, grace abounded so much more....

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ;
 it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;
and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Romans 6:4  We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
James 4:7-8 Therefore submit to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

2Peter 3:17-18 ...beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

2Timothy 3:1-5 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good,  treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,  having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.

Matthew 7:13-14 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it."

5 comments:

Jessica said...

Allison~ LOVED reading your testimony and journey! Rejoicing in your salvation and praying continued wellbeing for you and your sweet family! Thank you for sharing.
((Hugs))
Jessica

Angel said...

Allison, this is my most favorite post ever! I love how God works in our lives through unexpected ways, unique to each person. Thank you for being brave and telling us your testimony.

I got saved at my youth group's fall retreat in 7th grade. And later baptized at the same camp when I was on Jr. high staff in college. I'm so glad to be a part of a Bible believing/teaching church (we have Baptist roots, but are non-denominational). God prompted me to ask my parents, in 6th grade, why we didn't go to church. I had been raised in the Presbyterian church until my mom died (when I was 6)and then my dad went through a period of blaming God. And his next wife (my adopted-mom) had to leave the Catholic church because my dad had been divorced once. Well, a year after we started church shopping, a co-worker of his invited us to attend Grace and the rest is history.

xoxo
~Angel

Lula Bee Boutique said...

I have been on what feels like the most beautiful whirlwind for the past year. The ways that Jesus has manifested Himself in my life are just too numerous to even recount. I love sharing my story with anyone who will hear. Angel, I love non-denom! I know of 2 here I would be part of in a second. That is so important to find a church that teaches the Bible, and you can't always tell if one does by the name on the door. You know, children always ask the most pointed questions and I am convinced they have a direct line to Jesus...I see it everyday in mine. This has been my most favorite post too!

Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies said...

I really enjoyed reading this! I'm so glad that you stopped by my blog and I look forward to reading more of your thoughts!

Joybeth said...

Just wanted to say good job! I know I've heard this quite a few times but I could hear/read it a thousand more!! I love you, sister. Believe it or not you're such an inspiration to me. Thank you for sharing such special moments!