Saturday, May 23, 2009

My Testimony (posted to Facebook on 7/8/08)

i come from a family of preachers and choir members. yes. that's probably where the tendencies to sing out loud and to talk a lot probably come from. i mean, most of my relatives on my mom's side can carry a tune a long way, and my dad's a preacher, my granddad pastors a church in new york...and those are the ones i know about. so i was immersed in the Bible and the concepts of church and fellowship at an early age. i got baptized at about 7 or 9 or so. joined the angel choir, was a junior usher, went to Sunday school, the works. we used to have devotion on saturday nights, and we woke up early on Sunday mornings to get to Sunday school and everything on time.

but once i got out of Sunday school and sat down for the service, my attention went elsewhere. the singing was great...i mean, i've always loved music. but when the sermon came around...i was nodding off. or reading. or something. and this went on throughout middle school and part of high school too.

the thing of it is, though, i would sit there and call myself "witnessing" to other people, but i was no better than a sinner. i claimed to love God, but i didn't really care so much about Christianity. so i was like, "whatever. i got baptized. i should be good." and i went on cussing, and lashing out at people, and not really leading by example.

the summer of 2006, we started going to a new church, right down the street from our old one. at first, nothing changed too much. i just didn't really fall asleep on the sermons anymore. but church was still just something to do before Sunday dinner. a week or so later, i left for andover, and let's just say the Bible was one of the last things on my mind. all i knew was, i was away from my parents and the stuffy traditionalism that seemed to squeeze the life out of EVERYTHING.

but some stuff went down that left me feeling pretty low (there's a pun in there somewhere...way to ruin a serious part, right?). and these aren't the sort of what-did-you-do-at-camp-today things that you can tell your parents about and still be truthful at least 80% of the time. so i basically had no real help with my situations. and of course i couldn't help myself. so i just sat there, holding the trauma, the drama, and the stupid mistakes in my heart, because even though they were burning me pretty badly, there was no safe place to put them away. it got to the point where i was telling myself off, blaming myself for letting things get bad, belittling myself to a pretty dangerous extent. many of my friends at school became afraid of me because i always had a volatile state of mind. just ask any of them. as nice as they are, they will probably break down and tell you about that.

i trudged through my existence junior year as if it were mud. academically, everything was peachy. but inside me was a tangled mess of emotions and secrets that didn't need to be kept, but couldn't be told. but one day, things started to clear up.

a guy in one of my classes often talked about how happy believing in Jesus made him. he told me that he genuinely loved God in spite of his situations. something in me could tell that he tried to live by the Word. we started passing notes to each other in class (still trying to listen to the teacher, of course). and when i needed encouragement, or a laugh, or a prayer, he sent it to me in a not-so-neatly folded sheet of notebook paper. we were talking about Christianity one day, and the subject came up of baptism not saving a person. Romans 10:9-10. right there in everyday conversation. i realized that i had been baptized because i knew of Jesus and my parents accepted that because i was young. but i didn't know Jesus. i could quote some scriptures, sure. i could pray, you bet. but there was no conviction behind the words. there was no meaning. it was like water that couldn't quench thirst: present, but not effective in the least. it was then that i knew what i had to do.

that night, i got down on my knees and said a sincere prayer to God. and i remember actually feeling something within me. like part of me was being made new. it was simply the most beautiful feeling i'd ever felt. forgiveness of sins. true adoption into the family of God. a second chance. it was all there. i felt tears roll down my cheeks as i climbed into bed, having written another poem and started a new life in the hope of one eternal.

now i know that i can go to God with past, my present, my future, my fears, my desires, my sins, my questions, my tears, my praise. He is the only one who will always accept what you lay at His feet. and it's glorious to know that there is Someone who loves unconditionally, no matter what you did, almost did, thought about doing, said you were going to do, or still do. a love that is all-encompassing is the most sought-after thing in this world. it seems so elusive, but it can be found. the Holder of such a love is standing before you with open arms...waiting for you to believe He is there, waiting for you to love Him that much in return.

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