I can’t really remember a time when I did not believe in Jesus. It came naturally to me, growing up in a Christian home. I was blessed by parents and grandparents, who were believers and encouraged me by bringing me to church, praying with the family, and making sure I knew God’s plan of salvation. I also had many wonderful Bible teachers, youth ministers and Christian friends that influenced me for good.
But, my parents did not force me to get baptized. They let me make that decision on my own. I appreciated that. I got baptized at age 14, at the Del City Church, by my youth minister, Bill. We were at a Tuesday night event for teens, called Summer Youth Series. I had known for a couple of years that I had sinned and needed to be forgiven and start a new life in Christ, but I remember thinking, “Can I really do it? Can I live a life that pleases God?” I would try to go a week living like a Christian to see if I could not sin – and I would always fail! I would be disappointed in myself and think, “No, I’m not ready to be a Christian.” So I waited a while longer. Well, obviously I didn’t understand God’s grace, or that I didn’t have to be perfect, or try to live life by my own power. I got baptized that night, not totally understanding everything, but wanting to obey God’s word. And also because my friend Karen went forward and it gave me the courage to follow her down the aisle and get baptized. What a great feeling it was to be cleansed of my sin!
There certainly are stages of life, and I believe we all grow a little differently. Meeting your Dad was a boost to my faith. He sang loud and strong and wasn’t embarrassed about it. His Christian family also attracted me to him. Having children was another great boost to my faith as I re-learned the Bible stories I was told as a child and taught them at church and read them to my children at night. It reaffirmed to me how big and interesting and wonderful and loving God is. At about age 38, when I vowed to get physically fit and reached my goal I realized, “Wow, is this as good as it gets?” and I realized my body will never be perfect and I will never be as beautiful as some, but I am made perfect through Christ before God the Father. If I want to be in heaven someday I had better start working on my relationship with God rather than my earthly home and body. That’s when I really started praying and studying more intentionally. My Dad’s death of cancer made me long more for heaven, and your Dad’s accident gave me confidence that God is a God of healing.
My faith has grown tremendously since then, but it hasn’t always been an easy road.God doesn’t promise us a life of ease, but he does promise he will be with us! My life has been full of ups and downs, but I feel very blessed and can say that it has had many more ups than downs. Every experience leads me back to God in prayer.
That’s my faith journey so far. I have every hope that no matter what happens God will be with me. I still hang onto this verse with faith:
God makes me strong, God gives me peace, Psalm 29:11!