I feel as if I am being pushed to tell my testimony. I have been inspired by so many other Testimonies but maybe it is due time I tell mine.
What is the point of following God and the Bible if you do not have a testimony. Perhaps yours may not be as “cool” as some othgers you have heard but we all have one. People want to know why we follow Jesus…do we follow Jesus because we have to? Or is there a reason that we do it? We know why so many apostles and Gentiles followed Jesus, we have even heard how Paul, who was a murdere of Christians, came to follow Jesus. Paul has an amazing testimony and I am so glad that it is in the Bible. Honestly why would ANYONE give up an extravagant life of importance and riches just to give all that away and follow after Jesus. There has to be a perfectly good reason so many people follow the Gospel. Otherwise we are merely blind fools.
I have grown up in the church as a child. For the better part of my life I attended a conservative Church (One that focuses solely on the Gospel) I attended a Church that saw other Denominations as “wrong” so I was brought up to belive that any other denomination was wrong and lost. Sadly many churches today focus too much on what other churches are doing that they fail to see the log in their own eyes. yes there are some churches and cults out there that are waaay off and one MUST be on guard for such people. But what many churches fail to realize is the Church IS not a Building it is the people. And if the Church is made up of people…well then is the church perfect? It can only be perfect through Jesus. Chances are a preacher will misinterpret something, the members will quarel and judge, churches split over silly disagreeements etc. This indicates imperfection. The Church is NOT perfect, Jesus and the Gospel is.
I was a pretty judgemental kid to say the least. I was doing the works without the Spirit. I felt that if I presented good Works to God I was doing an okay job, but God doesn’t want the works from us because the works without accepting God’s Grace is meaningless. Doing good because you HAVE to is meaningless, doing good because you want to and NEED to is totally different and the spirit working in someone’s life can actually make someone WANT instead of “Oh I have to do this…it sucks, I don’t wanna do it but God says I have to.”
I’ll admit to being someone who fell asleep at church, played Pokemon during a sermon, dozed off. I was bored half the time. Then I met Nick, who is now my husband, and things slowly began to change. As one of those pushy Christians I continuously pushed Nick to be a Christian “Well we can’t be married if you are not Christian…” Man was I a hypocrite, I was throwing out all these words but not practicing what I was preaching. Maybe it wasn’t up to ME to change him. God began to work in him by using science and the Bible, Nick was Baptized April 2nd 2004 and his journey began. We were still silly kids though and even though we loved to go to church we had this Holy art thou attitude. Before you knew it, we started to stray from God. I know it was his plan, He had something better but Nick and I strayed from the church.
I became pregnant before Marriage, we began to party, we lived it up. I’ve done a few horrendous things, I’ve done so many stupid things. I was always fighting with friends and family. Nick and I had a volitile relationship, every time I tried to go back to God I failed because I was only doing it to get back at Nick every time I was angry with him. We both even said that we’d NEVER go back to church. We were bitter, we had problems and our church abandoned us. I became pregnant and became an outcast. And we held on to this bitterness for so long. And every night I felt as if we were missing something important.
We moved to a small town in 2007 and bought a small business and a house. (the house isn’t exactly small although some days I wish it were as I’m sick of cleaning it) We experienced one problem after the other, our marriage was being challenged, I was horrible to most of my friends and treated them poorly, I seeked after revenge all the time and it was a never ending fight. I was stressed, angry, life sucked, the bills added up…I was getting tired. Then I got this lightbulb idea…now this is a bad lightbulb idea because I had ill intentions. But God works is weird ways sometimes.
“We should go to church! If we go, the people there might start shopping at our store!” It was a master plan, Nick loved the idea. “Lets go to the Pentecostal Church, I hear it’s party for Jesus over there.”
Ok now, here I am, with a Conservative non denominational back ground and I am entering a Pentecostal Church. I’m going from one spectrum to the other here. I had this stupid idea but hey, God will take ANYTHING and turn it around. I was a little embarassed by people rasing their hands, crying, speaking in tongues, interpreting, freely worhiping God. These people were freaking me out with their kindness. But you know what? I was welcome. So what did we do? WSe went back week after week.
I don’t have all the details to a sermon that the pastor had spoken in February of 2009 but it spoke right to me. Not exactly at first but it hit me hard. The message was on surrendering to Jesus. I figured…”Pft I’ve been Baptized, I’ve already surrendered!”
A day in February, I was at work, bills piled high, bill collectors calling me non stop, my daughter who was at work with me was acting up, customers were particularily rude that day…oh man I was losing it. I was abvout to shut the doors and run away. I was a mess. Life sucked. But a simple popular song was playing in the back ground “Jesus Take the Wheel” by Carrie Underwood. I’ve listened to that song a hundred times and I always thought “Yeah it’s a nice song.” But it was playing at a crucial moment in my life. There was Nobody out there who could help me in my state. But this simple song…blocked out the world. I was brought to my knees and I began to pray. Jesus needed to take my wheel and he needed to take it right now. I surrendered. My thoughts changed, instead of complaining about bills I merely laughed at them. Life will be full of bills and it sucks but there is no need to freak out at every single financial struggle. God will provide, and he has.
I almost lost the house once, we’re still here. We lost our business, we’re still here. I lost some friends, I’m still here and I made new friends. I lost a job, got a new one with more hours! God has been nothing but faithful. Trust me, I have been in “I’m so screwed” situations and I’ve come through.
But just because I surrendered didn’t mean He was done in me. Like most Christians I went up and down. One week I’d be on fire the next week I’d be defeated. It’s like the Christian Roller coaster ride. I’m not the only one riding it, I’m pretty sure lots of people are on board with me. Hang on, we’re about to drop down a steep slope!
There were days I couldn’t feel Jesus’ presence. One morning we were walking to church and I was bitter. I had the moanies. “I can’t feel God…we’re late, life suck, woe is me.” I was frustrating my poor husband. He had to listen to me go on and on about how I wanted to flee from God. “If God loves me, he needs to give me a sign!” I yelled. Then my little girl grabbed my hand and said sweetly “It’s okay mommy.” I started to cry. Jesus JUST grabbed my hand right then and there. And to make things even better someone was at the Church that day singing and all the songs hit my heart so hard I ran out of tears. Thankyou Kevin Pauls for being there at our church singing that day because I needed it!
Even after that we went through ups and downs. Darkness likes to sneak in when you get nice and comfy. There is a reason we need to always be on guard. One such darkness is my anxiety. Oh dreadful mood disorders how you suck. And now I have yet another testimony…
In my anxious state I had to listen to people tell me “Oh you need drugs, you need to see a Doctor, don’t rely on God, it’s a big lie you need to be on meds. Stop being stubborn Jess.” Oh I stopped being stubborn alright. I stood up, and I called out to God and that anxiety went away. God put the right people into my life those few dark days, God held my hand through that darkness and around every corner I kept seeing Him. I realized how good it is to be in his presence. because of him I got through losing a business. Because of him i got through family drama and mended many relationships with friends. Because of God I became a beter person, one who is able to think before acting a lot more. And on the days I don’t think God throws my husband into the mix to stop me. Thank God for Nick. He honestly matched me up with the perfect man.
The big question is-why do I follow God? Because I’ve tried to live a life MY way and it sucked. Because I tried to do things without him and it never worked. Because there is nothing in this world that can bring me the kind of Joy God does. Because my life is better with Jesus. I’m a better person with Jesus. I’vbe tried to be better without Jesus and nobody liked my attitude. I am humbled. I love it. I just can not live my life NOT following Jesus and living out his teaching. Sure I could do nice things without God, and I have and I know so many others have but there is nothing more sweet than doing the work of Jesus. As a human I have the need to worship something…I have chosen to worship God. In God I trust. In God I always will…
If Jesus makes me happy, If Jesus takes my suffering away and guides me through the storms of life…how could anyone feel the need to take this away from me?