Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Testimony Tuesday - Week 11

Happy Tuesday! It's one of my favorite days of the week all because of Testimony Tuesday! This week's testimony comes from a fellow blogger, Brandy, whose testimony of God's faithfulness and hope encourages me greatly...

"To be honest with you, three years ago I would have never offered to share my testimony. Not because I was ashamed of it or that it revealed deep dark secrets of my past. The opposite rather… I felt my testimony wasn’t exciting enough. I don’t have the tear-jerking transformation that many who come to Christ share. Neither do I have the story of a church-bred “Christian” who later realized my “prayer” was insincere. The truth is I used to envy those people. I envied the beautiful, powerful testimonies like the one you read last week. But in the last couple of years, God has shed a new light on my story. He’s opened my eyes to see the beauty of His faithfulness and power of His grace regardless of the before and after. 

My earliest memories of God are as a pre-schooler. Though my parents didn’t go to church at the time, I would make it to Sunday School every week by way of my grandpa. I can recall singing “be careful little eyes what you see” in the Kindergarten talent show and chanting the lyrics, “I am a C, I am a C-H, I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N.” I remember staying up after curfew in those first few years I learned to read to pick apart the stories in my Precious Moments Storybook Bible. One story in particular that always made me cry was the woman who gave all the money she had. I can remember sitting in that pink-walled room telling God that He could have all of me…. but in my mind then the title of Christian was still something to be earned. I loved to attend VBS and I would pray to God often but somehow I’d missed the Gospel.

Years passed, my parents divorced, my mom remarried, and we moved houses. Not longer after the switch, our neighbors invited us to church. I was thrilled about this given that I hadn’t been going with my grandpa for years due to a family issue. At first it was just my sister and I but soon enough my mom and stepdad came along. After a few months of attending, it was time for our first VBS there. I can remember being at the “lesson station” and I was the only one there that night. There were two teachers and one student. Those teachers could have skipped the lesson and offered extra play time but by the grace of God they found it important to teach to me. It was the first time I really heard the Gospel and understood that I too could become a Christian. The next day, at age 11, I kneeled down in my pastor’s office and accepted the grace of Jesus to be my righteousness.

I spent the next several years in high school trying to discern who I was supposed to be and what my purpose was. The trials continued to come with the death of my dad at age 16 and the betrayal of my stepdad at age 20. I wrestled with pain and suffering but each broken heart God tenderly redeemed. For the most part in those years I was a fairly happy person. I loved God, had great friends, a loving family. I was busy making good grades, enjoying sports, spending time with the youth group, and being involved in everything coming and going. I had this deep desire to live for God, to give Him everything, but I was mainly following my plan. If there had been a 10 steps of success for the christian teen, I would have mastered it. But I knew God wanted something more. 
After a couple years of unsettling, God brought me to a place of surrender. I was 3 years in to my Bachelors in Nursing and was planning on becoming a doctor, when God gave me the 2nd biggest choice of my life….. “Do you want to continue your plan? Your safe, mapped out, logical plan? Or do you want something more? Do you want to really let Me use you?” 

After months of living with a pit in my stomach, I couldn’t shake the thought of missing out on what He had in store. I walked away from my senior year of nursing school (along with my cheerleading scholarship, my two great jobs, and my fabulous group of friends). But God faithfully took me on a journey as a ministry intern for a church plant 400+ miles from home. I watched Him provide just in time day after day. It wasn’t logical and there were no calculated steps but that season of faith grew me like never before. 

I watched Him provide housing, gas, car payments, and food. Family, friends, and even the husband I’d been begging for. It was a beautiful time in my life of letting go of that 10 year plan.

Here I sit, writing now, with my own struggles and adventures like so many seasons before. My husband and have entered the world of unexplained infertility where tears and sorrow mixed with peace and purpose come like never before. Husband and I have recently started the preparation of our newest ministry journey that involves a new church plant in my hometown. We’re going through the process now of leaving behind logic (our house, awesome church, Husband’s fantastic job and potential promotion) once again for the sake of the Gospel and following God’s leading. I find emotions repeating themselves so often.

I don’t tell  you all of this to say look what I/we have come through or what we are doing. 
I share this because here’s the beauty I’ve found in my story….

God’s persevering love is faithful and powerful no matter the story.
There are many different testimonies but His grace is the same.
There are many different seasons but His faithfulness is constant. 

The same God that was pursuing my 7-year-old heart was the same one relentlessly chasing it while I was in college and is the same one pushing me on the waves again. The same God who wiped me tears and healed my hurts at 16 over the loss of my father is the same one now bringing purpose to mess when each month disappointment crashes in. When I look back on my life I see the faithful hand of God weaving my story, His story… and though some chapters aren’t as exciting as others and some leave me with tear-filled eyes, this story He’s writing is beautiful simply because the Author is the main character. 

Different season. Different struggle. Different surrender. Same faithful God."
-Brandy from A Sweet Aroma

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