I'm participating in Seek The Lord Sunday again hosted by Daiquiri over at Call Her Blessed. This week, Daiquiri asks each of us to share our personal testimony about how we came to know Christ and make the decision to become a Christian.
My story is a long one, so I'm not quite sure I can get it all into one post. In fact, there was a defining moment in my life when I realized that Christ was indeed real and not someone that I was simply told to believe in by my Sunday school teacher. Not only did I realize the He was real, I realized and felt firsthand the amazing healing power that Christ brings to all of us. This part of my story I will save for another time. It's a great testimony but also one that I'm, sadly, not always ready to share. It takes a little out of me.
As for the rest of my story, I'll start when I was 22 yrs. old:
I was at a time in my life when others around me were starting theirs - getting married, having babies, finishing up college - and I had a distinct feeling there was a big hole in my life. I couldn't quite put my finger on it. I was happy with my job, not missing college at all and was, surprisingly, quite content in my singleness at the time. Still, the hole was there and it seemed to be getting bigger.
About that time, a couple in my apartment complex knocked on my door one evening and invited me to their church. That was it!! I realized at that moment that God was missing in my life and He sent this couple to me so that I might find my way back to Him.
Now, at this point, I'd like to say that, looking back, I really don't know if this was part of His plan or just some weird thing that happened to me. But if this couple and their church was in His plan I haven't yet figured out why because I wasn't but two weeks into attending services with this couple when things started to go terribly, terribly wrong.
I was working second shift at the Sheriff's office at this time having kicked and screamed my way off of the night shift due to health reasons. I was still a rookie in the department and had absolutely no say in when or where I would work but, nevertheless, my supervisors took pity on me and transferred me off of nights. Because I worked second shift I was both able to attend Sunday morning services but unable to attend church functions that took place in the evenings during the week, except Bible study - that I attended on my day off.
It was made clear to me early on that the small group of people I was associating with (I can't say the church as a whole felt the way they did, I didn't stay long enough to find out) expected me to devote ALL of my evenings to church-related functions. When I explained my work situation to them, they point-blank told me I would have to quit my job. I told them that I honestly believed God wanted me to pay my bills and that up and quitting just wasn't an option. They then explained to me that I could move into the church home for single women and, therefore, my expenses would be reduced.
Are you getting this? I'm TWO weeks into this group and I'm expected to quit my job, break my lease, move in to a community house and devote every free moment to their church schedule!
When I explained to one of the other women that this just wasn't going to happen she felt it her duty to warn me, "It has been our experience that people who work second shift just aren't successful spiritually and therefore do not enter the kingdom of God".
Yeah, she said that! Word for word, let me assure you, because I've never forgotten it! Seems that my salvation hangs purely on when I punch in for work.
So I ran fast and far from this group and never looked back. Over the next week, I received several phone calls from, I'm sure, well-meaning church members politely explaining to me how I was on my way to hell if I didn't return, but I was just sure this was NOT what God had in store for me.
To say that this experience shook me up a bit would be putting it lightly. Up until that time, I had only experienced church as a child and, except the occasional wedding or baptism, never as an adult. If this church was an example of what I could expect from God and church, I was determined to stay far, far away. It would take me nearly 16 yrs before I stepped foot as a member into a church again. It took moving to a new home and a patient and reassuring neighbor to convince me to give it one more try. This person, I can say with complete confidence, was certainly Heaven sent.
To be continued...