I was a few days old the first time I went to church.
I was 3 when I asked Jesus into my heart.
I was 8 when I was baptized.
That’s the brief timeline of my religious “milestones.” Until my mid-teens, I had a very scripted, typical “raised in a Christian home” style testimony.
As a somewhat dramatic and expressive person, I found my story rather boring.
I love my parents. I am so grateful to have been raised in a home where church wasn’t an option growing up, I was sent to a Christian high school, driven to youth group, and allowed to go on an overseas missions trip. They read me stories from my children’s Bible, gave me VeggieTales, and prayed with me before meals and bed. They were dedicated to making sure I knew about God.
I knew all about God, but I didn’t KNOW Him.
Intimacy with God is not something that can be taught, it is something to be sought after and discovered.
When I was 13, I discovered that being the good little Christian girl, obeying the rules my parents and the Bible laid before me wasn’t good enough. God didn’t want my superficial (prideful) good behaviour, He wanted my heart.
As I began praying with authenticity and trying to listen for Him, I began to hear Him! I stopped accepting spoon-fed easy answers, and began seeking truth for myself. Now, I’m not saying what my parents, teachers and church taught me wasn’t truth, just that I’d reached a point where I needed the why to back it up. I needed background and different perspectives as I formed my own opinions. I needed to know why I believed these things I’d accepted. I found (and continue to find) healing and restoration in my struggles.
I discovered my story isn’t actually about me. It is about an invitation to join a larger story, one so much bigger than my own.
Hebrews 11:8-9 “It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise.”
My story is about living by faith, dependent on God, in a world where I’m taught that I must be self-reliant and self-serving.
I think that growing up with parents who follow God is one of the biggest blessings in life. They have walked the same paths, struggled with the same things, and have hard-earned wisdom to share. The danger comes, when adolescent “Christians” fail to examine and take ownership of their relationship with God and the doctrine they’ve inherited. The North American church has an epidemic of faith floaters. Too many young people are content to live within expectations, and not ask questions. Then in the years after high school, God becomes that thing from when you were a kid that you put in a shoe box in the back corner in the closet. Please, don’t be afraid to ask questions. About Creation theories, about the authenticity of the Bible, about different spiritual disciplines, listening for God, and His vision for the Body of Christ. Anything! Just don’t find yourself without an answer for those who will ask you difficult questions. It’s not the path I chose, but I see huge value in a year (or more) of Bible school just for basic training on how to read the Bible, or how to evangelize. If you feel like that could be beneficial to you, go for it! Go on a missions trip. Work at a Bible camp. Volunteer somewhere. Just put yourself in an environment where it’s you and God figuring things out. (And where there is someone in a position to answer your questions and encourage you.)
I realize that this post has been pretty general as far as testimonies go, and I don’t know how applicable people who found God later in life will find it, but this is the heart of my story. I was never a drunk or an addict. I’m not a partier or promiscuous. I grew up in middle class Canada, a situation some wish they had. But, I almost think it in some ways it can be harder for people like me to accept God’s invitation. Who is He to tell me that I’m not good enough on my own? That I need help? I could have made a great Pharisee.
Mark 2:17 When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
Turns out my heart was as sick as anyone else’s, but I heard the call of the Great Physician.