So, I have a desire to share my journey with Christ. I do not have an intended audience nor do I expect that anyone in particular will read this. I just feel like I have something to offer and maybe it will shed some light for someone else while I clarify and organize my personal thoughts.
I have been journaling since January and I might share some of those writings at a later time, but I’d like to start with my testimony, because that just seems like a logical place to start.
Also, this quote:
“Whenever the Holy Ghost sees a chance for glorifying Jesus, He will take your heart, your nerves, your whole personality, and simply make you blaze and glow with devotion to Jesus Christ.”
The beginning of 2013 found me at an all time low. I was lost and broken to bits. Practically every relationship in my life was in shambles and I didn’t know myself or my God. Thankfully I was blessed with an amazing friend, Sarah, who led me to my new home church, Coastal Community Church in Yorktown, VA.
Some context about my journey with faith pre-2013: I was raised with a small Wesleyan Church in my neighborhood and rarely missed a Sunday service, Sunday School, or youth event. In my teenage years, I went to another youth group at a larger church in my county where I met a bunch of great Christian friends and grew with them over the years of middle school and high school. Also, I was involved in a youth choir for two weeks out of the summer for three summers (2005-2007), which was when I was the closest with my Heavenly Father.
However, with this foundation I had for most of my life, I got to high school and into a relationship, and I lost it. I stopped focusing on my relationship with God and put everything I had into earthly relationships- now I have nothing to show for those years of being lost. I continued to dig myself into a deeper godless pit in college. I ignored the guilt and convictions to attend Christian functions on campus or to go home to attend church. It was not until God had to physically remove all of my friends and support and things that brought me joy in life that I realized that I needed him- I so desperately need him.
back to 2013:
I first attended Coastal on January 6, 2013. I remember Sarah drove me. I remember being nervous. I silently cried for the 20 minute drive. I was concerned that the roof would collapse if I walked into that building because there was no way there was room for me and my sins in there. I was greeted with a rush of energetic music that flooded the atrium and a warm, welcoming smile from an adorable short woman who gingerly handed me a bulletin and beamed at me with compassion. (I later learned that her name is Mary and she gives amazing hugs as well.) I was shaking as Sarah and I found our seats in the second row. I remember feeling self-conscious… could these Christians sense that I was lost and was not worthy to be in their presence? “Marvelous Light” was the first song I heard. I could not even sing because the lyrics were too powerful for me to even utter a word. A few minutes later was the song “Rescue”… some of the lyrics to that song include “this world has nothing for me”.
They definitely had my attention.
Pastor Shaun concluded his sermon with this: “The things of this world and the sin you are pursuing will never satisfy your heart. Ever. It will leave you parched and weary. There is a song by Tenth Avenue North called ‘Worn’, and I think it sounds like a prayer of someone who is worn. Take a listen…”
The synopsis of this sermon was this: reflecting upon the idea that if you acknowledge the truth of who you are and of who Jesus is, you will be free indeed!
This sermon, song, church, and consequently the people that I met from joining a small group and the greeter team have molded me into an authentic follower of Christ.
January 7, 2013
I was home alone and reflecting on my miserable life. I realized that I believed in God, shoot- I had been baptized in 2006 for my 16th birthday- I wasn’t a stranger to faith or the doctrine or the Bible. But there was someone who I was a stranger to- Jesus. I knew about him but I didn’t personally know him. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I instantly wept and cried out for God to forgive me and to embrace me in my brokenness and to fix me. Make me right. Use me for His purpose. Then I text Sarah the most important text message of all time (I might be a little biased). It read:
“Hey Sarah, I just had an awesome moment. I don’t know who else to share it with so I’m choosing you. I have been baptized and chose to live my life for God when I was 16 but I realized that I have been living for only myself. I’ve decided that I want to live my life for Jesus and I need your love and help.”
God used her and so many other people at Coastal to help me. I was in dire need of a new foundation, walls, roof, decorations, everything! God provided. I joined a small group in February. I grew deeper and deeper in love with God and pursued a relationship with him.
I started to connect with other Christians by attending the Thursday morning small group and I began serving by joining the greeter team and helping out at NOW! youth group on Thursday nights. I was really out of my comfort zone, but I know that God convicted me to serve him and this was where I was needed.
March 31,2013 Resurrection Sunday (Easter)
Easter usually meant going to my Nanny’s house for a large feast with my dad’s side of the family or dyeing eggs with my sister and of course going to church on Sunday to sing and worship the miracle of Jesus being raised from the dead. But I never truly understood what Jesus had really done for me. I knew he had died and was risen, but I did not understand that by dying, Jesus justified me in God’s sight. I began to pursue a friendship with Jesus.
April 21, 2013
I was really sad about the Spring semester coming to an end because it meant that my supportive small group would not be meeting for the summer. I inquired about a summer small group but there wasn’t anyone stepping up to lead one for my age group. It was proposed that I lead one. “What?!” I asked God. “Are you sure? Not me. I can’t do that. Sorry.”… was the conversation in my head but, “Uhhh, ok!” was the response that came out of my mouth. I was shaking after that conversation. I did not want to do it. I was terrified. A few days later I met with Pastor Jeff about leading and I seemed to pass all the requirements for leadership, so I got the green light and started to advertise my group.
May 19, 2013
I was a mess as I got to church at 6pm… small group started at 7pm. I was excited but I had low expectations and pretty much expected no one to show up. To my delight, 12 people came and we started a beautiful journey with God together.
My friend brought up a concept that has changed my life. We’ve all heard of tithing our income, but my friend introduced the concept of tithing time. Spending 2 hours and 24 minutes a day with God sounds challenging… and I like challenges. So I started to wake up before the birds to work out of a devotional- My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. It’s a funny thing that once I started to tithe my time to God I found an abundance of more time to spend with Him and doing extra things I wanted to do outside of summer classes and working. I continue this as well as other biblical studies and reading Christian based literature.
And this is kind of where I am now.
I am so excited about this opportunity God has given me to repent from the first 22 years of my life and allow 2013 to be the starting line for the rest of my life spent walking with Him.
I am very open about discussing my past and present and I hope that my transparency is useful in some way.