Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Born from Above

I got a couple of votes for showing more of my personality on my blog. I guess I'm afraid to show more of it because I have so many flaws/sins and don't want to be a bad example. But also...some of the reluctance to share about myself is due to vanity or pride. And if the Lord can be glorified through my weakness, then perhaps I should be more open.

He must increase, but I must decrease. - John 3:30

So, here's my testimony, and may God bless you through it in some way. (This is not so much about my personality, perhaps, and it wasn't what I started out to write, but here it is.)

I'm very shy, quiet, and lack knowledge in many areas. My growing up years were ones of self and pride, and still are in many ways. I played piano not to bless others, but to please myself and to gain compliments. I sometimes felt left out of things, or not connected enough with others due to my shyness and all. Fear was a big part of my life. Fear of failing, fear of looking stupid, fear of man. When I was thirteen, I felt so lonely and desperate, that I decided I wanted to serve God. Or thought I did. What I really wanted was friendship with people at church and a closer relationship with my saved family members. But I didn't really want to be conformed into the image of Christ. No. That would be too hard. Perhaps in my heart I knew my profession of faith was false, but most of the time I convinced myself it was true (perhaps Satan also blinded me into thinking it was true). So I was baptized, forced myself to play piano in church every week, etc. But the joy wasn't there. Even the friends I thought I would gain weren't there, because I wasn't reaching out to them, and I was still the same selfish, timid person, repulsing the very friendship I craved. Also I was lazy. And when anyone mentioned the end times, Christ coming in the clouds, or dying, my heart would start racing in fear. This started me wondering. Reading the Left Behind series had the same effect, like a huge black cloud had come over me, and trembling and tears probably went with it. Am I really ready?

Three or four years had gone by, and the doubts plagued me like a swarm of locusts. I kept it to myself for the most part.

My unsaved sister would ask me questions, which I should have been able to answer simply enough, but they took me off guard and I found that the "right" answer was not how I felt. She asked me if I knew I was going to heaven when I died, if it felt sure. I hesitated. I probably stammered a few words of uncertainty.

"Why don't you just admit you're not saved," she said quietly.

That took me off guard. Why had she said that? She must have seen my uncertainty in all the answers I ever gave her. Why not, indeed? My will crumbled into defeat, my deception into honesty. I told my family I didn't think I was saved. They argued and encouraged, but I knew it was hopeless.

I was free to be myself again . . . though it wasn't much different. Free to wallow in my sin and fear. In some ways I was relieved, but in some ways I was sad. My life drifted without purpose except to please myself and be respectable enough that I wasn't in trouble. I hid things from my family, guilty conscience notwithstanding. I even questioned the authenticity of the Bible. Throughout this, I still thought I wasn't doing so bad. I made excuses.

In September of 2006, my dad died after a battle with cancer. His faith was steadfast in Christ to the end, throughout all his anguish.

A couple months later my brother and I traveled to some friends' house for Thanksgiving, around 2005. We had never even met all of them in person, but knew them from online. They were so kind to open their home to us and treat us like family. They were unpretentious and stood for their convictions regardless of what we thought. The women wore head coverings all the time. One evening, my brother Joel and Charity (our friend and Joel's future wife) asked me about how I was doing. How I was really doing, or what I was thinking. Something along these lines. I forget what I said, but it got them concerned, and Charity clasped my hand and prayed.

We went upstairs to talk some more, and they showed me some Bible passages that they thought might help. They only made me feel worse, and inspired no change at that time. They asked if I'd like to be alone. I said yes, and went into a nearby room, crying it out, not sure what I wanted or if I could have a change. Could I stand for convictions, like they did, and perhaps be thought a freak by others? How could I? My heart didn't want to submit. But I feared God's wrath. So I kept sobbing and asking . . . yet not really asking. My mouth said the words, but my heart didn't. Or maybe they did in some way, but it wasn't a full desire to change or submit, only a wish for some pardon sometime. In any case, all my tears and prayers were not enough to save me. Only God's changing grace and cleansing blood could do that.

I think I was in the room for over an hour or two, until the room was pitch dark. I gave up. I stumbled out into the other room, where Joel and Charity still sat prayerfully, Bible spread between them. They looked up questioningly.

I might have mumbled something about there being no change.

Charity, knowing I didn't want to go downstairs and eat while I was in such a bedraggled condition, went to get me some food.

In all my crying out to God, perhaps I thought there must be some change, but I was like a baby kicking against the womb, unable to come out on my own, and yes . . . unwilling.

In 2006, my dad died after a battle with cancer. His faith was steadfast in Christ to the end, throughout all his anguish.

About a year later, I was watching a video online. It was linked from a friend's blog. It wasn't a perfect video, but it was about revivals in history, called Revival Hymn, and there was something about it that God used. The outright sorrow of the people in the film captured me, their abandonment of self and zeal for a new life. Perhaps the Bible verses quoted were an arrow to my heart by the Holy Spirit. I was struck by my sin and need of God, and I wanted to have that love and peace, wanted to turn from my sin. I didn't feel a lightning-bolt change, but there was a new desire that I think came at this time. Because of my past false hope, this hope was left for a while, and I only told a friend or family member or two that I thought I might be saved, and wondered if I should get baptized. I believe one of them encouraged me to stand firm in the Lord. I know my mom was supportive, but she didn't push me to get baptized. She wanted me to be sure.

It was not long before I was convinced it was a true change, and that I wanted to be identified as Christ's. So I told our pastor of the good news, and requested to be baptized. Somehow I had worried that they might not believe I was truly saved now, like the boy crying "Wolf!" . . . But they received my testimony and joyfully celebrated with me for the second time . . . but really for the first time. It was perhaps exactly a year after my father's passing.

My life in Christ grows as I see His beauty more and more. At times I start to look more at the waves and tempest and my poor wobbly feet on the water than the Savior, and I start to sink in doubt, but God pulls me back up again, just like He did for Peter.

My memory is nearly gone;
but I remember two things;
That I am a great sinner, and
that Christ is a great Saviour.

John Newton (1725-1807)
English minister and hymn writer


Lacie Verret said...

Thank you for sharing your testimony, Melissa. It is always a beautiful thing to see how God works in the hearts of those whom He is drawing to Himself. God bless you, my friend!

Love in Christ ~

Melissa M. said...

:) Glad you enjoyed it. God bless you, too!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to the hands of health was good sharing