Sunday, January 3, 2016

You Don't Have to Remember, if You Know...

In some Christian circles, it is the "thing" to ask people their salvation story. How did you come to know the Lord?

It is often on mission trip applications, volunteer forms, and it might even comes up when you're meeting your new boyfriend's friends, mentors or family. Someone, somewhere is going to ask.

Tell us your testimony.

This has always made me a little uncomfortable, or sometimes even rubbed me the wrong way. And then I'd feel guilt. Shouldn't I be excited to share my story? To shout from the rooftops the story of how God saved me, redeemed me, made me whole?

So why do I feel a little bit of discomfort or shame when I think of my story? Of the place where I first met the Lord? It's taken me a while, but I realized it boiled down to one thing: I don't remember it. 

I don't remember the day, the time, the moment where I first surrendered to His call and embraced the message of the Gospel.

I grew up in a Christian home. When I was born, my dad was in the middle of one of many Seminary degrees. He was in the process of starting an African Mission church with two of his close friends. I was the first baby born in that church. And as I grew, that church was my family. The men where my uncles, the women were my aunts, the children were my cousins.

I was raised with praises songs on my lips, scripture in my mind. Church was my favorite place. And it was my home. I was taught to love Jesus. I was taught He loved me. And I had no reason to ever doubt it. In a sense, you could argue that I have always known the Lord.

But... at some point, my faith had to have become my own. At some point, I had to clearly recognize my personal depravity and see my undeniable need for a Savior.

But... I don't remember what that point was.

I often tell this story:

It's a little memory that I have in my mind. I am not even sure how real it is, or if it is more imagined. But I remember being between 5 and 7. I know it is around this age because we were at the Beddell house and no longer living in Seminary housing. I know that my sisters and I shared the back room. And it was when we were really into puzzles. We had just gotten a 5,000 (or was it 10,000 piece) puzzle of a cabin in the woods. Most of the puzzle was composed of leaves. Lots of shades of green. That looked very much a like and was very hard to piece together.

The puzzle was being put together on a desk or table in our room. The desk sat right under one of the windows in the room. In my memory, the puzzle is mostly completed except for the top left quarter. All those dang green pieces we couldn't quite get. And in my memory, I walk into the room and see sunbeams streaming in, shining directly onto our incomplete puzzle.

I remember being struck by the beauty of it all. And I remember thinking... I want to belong to that light. I want to belong to The Light.

And if you grow up in church or a Christian home, then you are bound to have been led, or heard people being led in the "salvation prayer." And if you're like me, you probably have already said it at some point, maybe every Sunday, but not really understood what it meant.

Either way, in my memory, I said the prayer then.

And that would be my story. Except... like I said earlier, I don't even know if it is real.

I do know that not a whole lot about my life changed. Church remained a central part of our lives, serving in the church and community was my family's M.O. I continued to learn about the Lord, be taught to love the Lord, and taught that the Lord loved me.

And while I have no doubt that I understand the Gospel. That I understand the sacrifice made for me on the Cross. That I have a relationship with the Almighty God, the Great I AM. When I hear a Christian ask me, "So what's your testimony?" I cringe and feel a little bit of fear. That maybe they will see me as a fraud. They will doubt that I am legit. I will not be counted as one of them.

Isn't that horrible?

Somewhere along the line, I learned to believe that my story didn't matter. It wasn't cool enough, groundbreaking enough, a testimony of God's power enough.

But recently, something changed that for me.

I was starting a relationship with this guy, and happened to meet some of his friends. And the question came up... "So, how did you come to know the Lord?" I took a deep breath and told the truth that I know: I grew up in the church, my dad is a pastor, I was taught to love the Lord and that He loved me. I don't remember the exact day or time, but I know that with each year of my life I have grown more aware of how real God is, and I daily surrender my life to Him.

And then I waited for the deeper, probing questions. The ones laced with doubt and concern. Did I really know the Lord? Or am I a fake? But what came instead was some insight that changed everything for me.

As a parent, your greatest hope and desire is that your child(ren) know your love. Without doubt. Unconditionally. And you would rather have your child know you loved them from the day they were born versus spending most of their lives feeling lost, alone and empty and then discovering you loved them as a teen, a young adult, at middle age. We'd hope to protect our children from the pain of poor choices, or from any kind of despair. Right? Wouldn't that be the dream of all parents?

And if that is our desire as mere human beings, how much more would that be God's desire for each of us? My story is exactly what God would want for any of His children. To know they are loved by Him from Day 1, and to live a life protected by that love.

I've got to have a personal relationship with God for so long, and even if I can't remember it, I know it. I know that an infinite God seeks me out. That an infinite God became a man, lived and dwelt among us, wounded and bruised for me, nailed on a cross, died... and rose again. I know that I can have a personal relationship with that God because the veil had been torn, sin has been defeated, His righteousness has cleansed me from my unrighteousness.

And so even though I can't remember... I KNOW. 

And that's what matters beyond anything else. 

1 comment:

  1. So glad I'm not alone in this. You just shared my belief and thought. Well written

    ReplyDelete

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