Thursday, December 2, 2010

Reason to Celebrate; A Mini Testimony

I've been sick for a few days, hopefully on the recovery slope now, but that means less crafting in the evenings, and more reading, sleeping, pondering.

I believe that God desires for us to do all we can with what he has given us-- our time, talents, gifts, energy, personality, life experiences, and material resources. Yet I'm the servant who buried what I could have used, so afraid of doing the wrong thing or being judged, that I did nothing at all. I was pulled from ...a pit, and people should know that that's God's business.He specializes in saving those who looked like they had no future. When I see people now going through similar things... it hurts my heart...
Remember Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

When I think about the things I hide ... my past experiences, who I was... I realize I'm also hiding the redemption. I can't very well celebrate his forgiveness, if I hide the very things I've been forgiven from. What would Paul's story be, if we never knew of the person he was. How would that show God's mighty power, and unbelievable forgiveness? Paul's former life is a testament to the awesomeness of God, and the power of His transformations. Every life saved is a miracle, but some seem a little more miraculous than others, am I right?

I was raised in a wonderful, Christian home, by parents who spent a lot of time with us. We played family games, had devotions, went camping often, spent winter evenings reading by the fireplace. It was a fabulous childhood. I know so many people who didn't get that. :( I took it for granted. It's all I ever knew, so I assumed it was the norm. I became a Christian early in life. I grew up in the church, and spoke the Christian lingo.

As a teenager, though, everything changed. Our family went through some troubled times, and I turned my back on God. It was a purposeful decision to walk away from what I had known. And, in those several years, my life went from being "perfect" to living in my own personal pit. I smoked, drank, partied, lied to my parents and caused unbelievable grief to them, and to myself, even though I wouldn't admit it at the time. I don't even know what possessed me to walk so far away. But I do know what caused me to come back. Love. Pure and simple. My parents were angry and hurt, sure. They did everything in their power to pull me back, and nothing worked. But, in spite of my the things I did and things that were done to me, their love never wavered. They never withheld it. And through that "test" I could clearly see that God, too, never stopped loving me. I was grieving Him. He wanted to pull me back. He had the door open, waiting. And, finally, I stepped through, sobbing with repentance, already forgiven. It took longer to learn the "casting off of the old self." I continued, for awhile, to put on "my slave's clothes" rather than walk as His daughter. It's still a daily battle sometimes, to act like the person I am, in light of Him.

I share this-- granted, rather vaguely-- because whoever is reading this has likely never been worse than me. Yet I'm forgiven. I'm loved. Christ came to this earth to save ME. If He can forgive and love me, then He can also forgive and love you.

And, if you already know that, then let's start really living like it. I, for one, am tired of living a life full of fear-- fear of judgment, fear of what people will think, fear of being who I am. Those who have hurt me the most in life aren't those who left physical and emotional scars when I was a teenager-- no, it was a few Christian women in my life since then, who have judged, gossiped, criticized, demeaned... while pretending to live their own "perfect" lives. {shudder}
Let us NOT be like that!!

If we're full of His love and forgiveness, then it should overflow from our lives, onto those around us. The petty little things don't matter. Our pasts don't matter now. How many kids we have, whether or not we work outside of the home, whether we homeschool or public school, if we drink or abstain, how we dress, if we clap when we worship, have tattoos, which denomination we belong to, or if we go to church at all... none of that should be an area of contention.
Only God's opinion matters.
And, so help me, I'm *trying* to live like it. Which is why I'm telling you how horrible I was-- because God doesn't hold it against me, so why should I care what anyone else thinks?

It's almost Christmas. My Saviour was born into this world because He loves me-- and you-- so much. He couldn't just let us die. He didn't let justice prevail, or we'd all be goners. He poured out unconditional love, in the form of His own life. I want to remember that Every. Single. Moment, not just at this time of year.

Here's hoping we can all remember the Reason for the Season, and not get our panties in a wad if the pastor doesn't wear a tie. Put blinders on, if you need to, in order to see the manger and nothing else. Embrace those around you, differences and all.

{{hugs}} from one daughter (or son) to another.


Stacy said...

Thank you for sharing your testimony and inspiring us to remember that first and foremost it is the Lord's opinion of us that counts. If God is for me who can be against me?

Love ya girl!

Shirley said...

Very good stuff! I'm with you - let's get over our differences and stop pretending that we have it all together. Let's embrace those who are different because Jesus came and died for each one. Good reminder to me - thanks!

Leah said...

What a powerful testimony! And just what I needed to hear today. Thank you for being real. I wish SO much that there were fewer judgmental Christians. You are a great encourager even to those of us who really only know you online.

Leah said...

What a powerful testimony! And just what I needed to hear today. Thank you for being real. I wish SO much that there were fewer judgmental Christians. You are a great encourager even to those of us who really only know you online.

Soaring High said...

Made me cry (in a good way). We all need this: blinders with our eyes focused on the manger...not ourselves or others. Thank you Wendy.

Suzanne said...

Oh, take a deep breath now and feel our embraces. Because we're here hugging you and nodding in agreement. Can you feel us? I love you, girl. A big step you took. He will be glorified.

Jerri Dalrymple said...

Girl, you ARE loved!!! And special, and amazing, and loving! You represent the very heart of God. You and I have so much in common, as we both know, and sometimes we just need to remind ourselves that those past images are NOT what God sees when He looks at us! I love you girlie!!!!

Jerri Dalrymple said...