According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word testimony means, among other things, “a firsthand authentication of a fact; an outward sign…”
What I am sharing here today is my firsthand experience of forgiveness and the redeeming and transforming power of the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. My changed life is a fact that cannot be denied, so I am, myself, an outward sign—the Lord’s own testimony of His mercy and grace bestowed on the most unlikely of people. It is because of who I once was that I firmly believe there is no one outside His power to save.
To keep this to a readable length and because this is a public forum, I will skip many of the morbid details of my pre-Christ life and focus instead on how He drew me out of them.
Perhaps, someday, over a cup of hot tea or coffee, I will tell you more if you are interested, though it doesn’t really matter. That person is dead and gone and I do not like to look back on her much. Instead of a lengthy discussion, I’ve included a bullet-point list to give you a general idea. Feel free to skip over it.
Facts About the Old Me
- Grew up in a broken home
- Crippling emotional imbecility that belied a supposed high IQ
- Made numerous poor choices as a young adult including premarital relationships (one with a much older man)
- Consumed to much alcohol and occasionally drugs
- Always looking for someone to love me but rejecting anyone I found attractive
- Driven by a sense of obligation to move to another city to help a guy with cancer and his mother.
By the age of twenty-six, I was emotionally and physically exhausted, wretched beyond belief, and beginning to weigh either suicide or life as a transient as possible options (both of which were more honestly a desire to flee the mess I’d made of my life). This is when I met the man who would become my husband.
To kick things off, I slammed a door in his face. But he was persistent. He offered a night’s sleep on his couch and I, worn out beyond belief, eventually gave in. We were, neither of us, chaste individuals and I failed to sleep on the couch.
We began to “hang out,” as the vernacular of the time put it. I had known him for about a month when I discovered that I was pregnant. We barely knew each other. I was mortified and gave more serious consideration to suicide. I never could work up the nerve.
My man knew what to do, however. He moved me (by himself) into his apartment.
Together, we decided I would stay home with the baby when he arrived. Until then, I worked to pay off debt. It was then, with this new life growing inside me, that I began to understand that love was not something one seeks and pursues. Love is something one gives.
I was crushed by the many missed opportunities to show love to my two sisters, one of which is 13 years my junior and the other who had her own babies when she was hardly more than a babe herself. I didn’t know it yet, but this was my first real revelation from God preparing me to understand Himself.
Incidentally back in my drinking days, a bar buddy once asked me a funny question: “What do you think God is like?”
I responded with some mumbo-jumbo about love and acceptance and other characteristics that didn’t challenge my lifestyle, to which he replied, “But isn’t that just a little too convenient?”
The question haunted me for years.
Challenging the Almighty
During pregnancy, I began to really wonder about God. Many details are fuzzed by time and fatigue, yet I began to respond to an inner prompting I couldn’t understand. I decided to read the Bible, praying my first real prayer, though I meant it as a challenge: “I’m going to read this book (the Bible), but I don’t believe a word of it. God, if You’re real, You’re going to have to prove it!”
As I read, a time came when I was no longer demanding He reveal Himself but rather questioning His motives: “Why would you do this, God? Why would you treat these people so, these nations You destroyed?”
I had crossed the line from unbelief to belief.
Not long after, I found myself speeding through the minor prophets (of course, I didn’t know the term at the time) because I simply could not wait to read about the Messiah I’d seen hints of sprinkled all over the the pages Old Testament.
By the time I reached the story of the demon-possessed boy in Mark 9, I’d shed countless tears, learned the answer to many of my “whys,” and begun to feel a genuine love and longing for this mighty God who would send His own firstborn Son to die in my place
Me, who had lived such an utterly disgraceful life!
When I read Mark 9:24, “I do believe! Help my unbelief!” I recognized my own cry. I also wanted to believe, but at first I couldn’t.
And He had answered. He had helped my unbelief.
Just the Beginning
That was the beginning of my walk with God.
I still had a lot of growing to do, a lot of refining to endure, and no small amount of dying to myself to allow. Years passed from the first moments of budding belief until I grasped that Christ’s death paid for even my heinous sins, too.
At first, I thought my unworthiness too great. Eventually I learned – through a series of Scriptures, sermons, and whispers from the Spirit – to believe myself the singular human beyond God’s reach was absurdly arrogant. Finally, I was able to repent of my twisted pride and accept His gift.
I am still walking with God and still learning. My former lifestyle disgusts me because it dishonored my Maker.
I love my husband and would rather find death parting us than divorce. I not only enjoy my children but homeschooled them until high school. They are in college now, and I take delight in their company and watching them become who God created them to be.
I love my God and His Word fiercely. I cherish the time I spend reading my Bible, love to pray, and absolutely relish time out in His creation, especially when I can talk with Him.
I have come a long way down the narrow path, but I suspect there are more crushing and sifting times ahead before I’m ready for Eternity. God alone knows how long it will take, but He is infinitely trustworthy to get the job done. After all, He saved me right out of the very depths and muck of sin.
He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.1 Thessalonians 5:24
There is so much more. Perhaps in eternity, without the weight of the sin curse always dragging on our bodies and minds, we can remember in vivid detail every event that displayed God’s glory in our lives and we can marvel at His grace and beauty together.
For now, know that He is truly good and worthy of every sacrifice. The joy of knowing Him surpasses the fleeting pleasure of anything this old ball of rock has to offer.
If you already know Him, I would love to hear how He first called you, so comment below!