Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Let the Redeemed Say So

For my Bible study, we wrote our personal testimonies.

I wrote mine in my journal, but then realized that with all of the people who have looked at our blog and have supported and loved on us through Hudson's cancer, I should share this part, too because really, this is what is getting me through.

The study gave me the title and starting phrases like, "Before He redeemed me," and "Since He delivered me from slavery to sin," but the rest of it is me.

My hopes in sharing this is to show how God lead me to this place of being able to help Hudson fight, but I have moreso been lead to write this because I hope to share what God has done and can do for you. What if sharing this testimony can lead someone to the single most wonderful thing they've ever known? My relationship with God comes from testimony sharing, so it's only right to share mine, too.

Before He redeemed me, I lived life for me. 

I lived to better myself, and while I deeply loved, it was only those who loved me first, how I wanted. I did whatever I wanted, talked how I felt, led by anger and bitterness most of the time.

I'd felt wronged for all the ways I had to struggle and was enveloped in my very small world. I wanted to do more, be more, get more. Things made me happy. I was self-reliant and even more angry when I let myself down. 

I pushed people away and decided I only needed those who cared about me. I was sick of doing for others with nothing in return. 

I was sick in my heart as it had turned to stone, yet I wore a shining smile on my face. 

At my lowest, I achieved some of my highest accolades, which pitched me further in despair convinced I was the only one on whom I could rely. I was so quietly, secretly hurt unable to let go of the past while jabbing holes in my present. 

I was proud. I was fists balled, words-of-venom-winner. Those closest to me suffered the most as they were a direct hit for wherever my emotions took me. I felt justified every time I tore someone down. I had good reasoning. I convinced myself I was the only one I could trust. 

My plans would happen; if you got in my way, I'd either work around or plow through. I made decisions without prayer; convinced I only needed to consult my own judgement. I hurt or severed friendships, family ties; some to the point of no return. I lived superficially skimming the top.

God always flitted in the back of my mind as I made decisions I knew were not according to His Word. Even as I declared myself a Christian who didn't need church, the Bible , or prayer. I knew those were lies, too.

God gave me a very special set of friends in Matt and Kimberly Brown coincidentally as He gave me the man He had set aside for me all along. With strength and encouragement I've yet to muster in my walk even to this day, they persisted in their efforts to bring me to Christ, to teach me the Gospel, and point me to Him at every chance they got. In college, Matt would sit with me and talk about His faith, about God, and about how I did, in fact, need God in my life. Straight forward, yet uplifting, my first nudges toward redemption. 

After graduation, Matty and Kimber were married, and we spent between one and three days a week for hours at a time with the Browns. God was knitting our hearts together, and I will admit, I was mostly oblivious to the work He was doing in those days! 

On and off in little snippets here and there, they would talk about this great sermon or friends they were meeting at Apex and house church then in Bible study. 

Oh, we didn't have time for that much church! 

Looking back this makes me smile because just a few lines up I talk about how much time they spent with us!

Eventually Steve proposed two years after graduation, and God had put us in front of Matt and Kimber about a million times to see and hear them living a Christ-centered life. When Kimberly told me about a marriage series Rob was doing at Apex, I selfishly wanted to go. I knew our relationship needed major work before marriage and for whatever reason (GOD!) I thought this might help us. My parents were divorcing right as we were marrying and the type of relationship I witnessed growing up scared me deeply. 

Sitting in Apex in March 2008, I was overwhelmed by the understanding that how I was living was not going to cut it. 

If I wanted more, I'd have to BE more. A love soft, yet heavy laid on and all around me. If I was going to do this--walk with Christ--I had to wipe away the old me and be completely open to what would happen next. 

Rob asked a question then that changed me forever.

"If Jesus Himself were sitting next to you, what would you turn to Him and say?"

The only two words that filled every inch of me: I'M SORRY.

Since He delivered me from slavery to sin I have become a different person, except it's really who God had intended me to be all along. It wasn't so scary as much as it was challenging to put on my new self. I shed and am still shedding the old vindictive, angry, fake me and slipping into a person who wants His will for me. 

What's life like as a Christian? It's not for sissies I can tell you that. 

I remember from one of the first Bible studies I took seriously reading the words, "It will be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God," and I sat stock still. All my life I had been gathering up wordly riches--oh boy was I in for a change!

It's hard, but it's beautiful. On one hand, the way I fail God every day smacks me hard between the eyes, while on the other hand, His grace and mercy save me every time. I am a constant work in progress. Right when I think I have figured things out, God shows me exactly how much I only need Him. 

Give the glory to Him. 

He who hung on a cross and died for me to then defeat death and reside in me, giving me all the strength, wisdom, and love I could ever need. 

To fail again and again. To cling to Him. To be redeemed.

 Hallelujah! 

REJOICE!


When I lose my way,
And I forget my name,
Remind me who I am.
In the mirror all I see,
Is who I don't wanna be,
Remind me who I am.
In the loneliest places,
When I can't remember what grace is.

Tell me once again who I am to You,
Who I am to You.
Tell me lest I forget who I am to You,
That I belong to You.
To You.

When my heart is like a stone,
And I'm running far from home,
Remind me who I am.
When I can't receive Your love,
Afraid I'll never be enough,
Remind me who I am.
If I'm Your beloved,
Can You help me believe it.

Tell me once again who I am to You,
Who I am to You, whoa.
Tell me lest I forget who I am to You.
That I belong to You.
To You.

I'm the one you love,
I'm the one you love,
That will be enough,
I'm the one you love.

Tell me once again who I am to You.
Who I am to You.
Tell me lest I forget who I am to You,
That I belong to You, oh.

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