Monday, October 17, 2011
I was raised in a loving home; both my parents have always been a big part of my life and as they were both saved before they were married (and years before I was born), there were/are seldom arguments between them and I’ve enjoyed the fruit of their commitment to Christ, and to each other.
I was home-schooled from the time I was old enough to read through high school, and I can never repay my parents for the long hours, days, weeks, months and years devoted to raising my brothers, sisters and I up to be loving and responsible men and women devoted to God and to following His plan for our lives. I am forever indebted to both my parents, for it was them who taught me (and my nine siblings) of the love of God and the way of salvation through Jesus Christ. My parents believe it is their God-given responsibility and privilege to teach their children when they “sit at home and when they walk along the road, when they lie down and when they get up,” (Deuteronomy 6:7) and that they have done!
One of my earliest memories is of when I first accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I remember little before that as I was young (about 8), and I’m grateful to have known my Savior at such a young age as He has literally kept me out of trouble. Were it not for the fact that after giving my life to Christ my conscience came alive, I would have found myself in a heap of trouble. But by God’s mercy, He saved me from myself and any time I did ANYTHING I knew I ought not to have done my conscience convicted me and I had to choose from one of two options: I could confess and receive forgiveness, or choose to be miserable. I always chose the former, because I simply could not handle the guilt the latter provided!
I distinctly remember the night I accepted Christ, though I don’t know the date or even the time of year. I recall being in my room, listening to the radio program “Left Behind” and coming to the realization that I needed a Savior. I went crying to my mom, and she joyfully led me to Christ. Since then I’ve made my share of mistakes, and rededicated my life to God, but I do hold to that time as the time I gave my life to Him as I was sincere and -though my understanding was limited- in the simplest of ways I knew I was making the decision to accept Christ in my heart.
My dad read the bible to us every morning and most evenings, and my mom taught us throughout the day. Learning about God –and seeing Him at work in the lives of my parents and family- was a daily reality seen and experienced before I was even old or mature enough to comprehend what I was seeing and experiencing.
Little did I know that those years of my dad dragging us out of our warm beds (and saying in the most annoying of voices, “Hello. I’m your father. Welcome to Friday. Or “It’s time to get up, it’s time to get up, it’s time to get up in the morning!”)and teaching us at the kitchen table was to be in many ways the foundation of my life!
I have little memories of anything I learned at “church” from that time (though we went EVERY Sunday)- except for laying out clothes the night before, the mad rush on Sunday morning to get everyone dressed and to Church in time, and falling asleep on mommy’s lap while the pastor was preaching.
We moved several times when I was young, but we always lived either in VA (where I was born) or WV. One particular move I’ll highlight as I believe it is an important part of my story:
When I was nine years old we moved from Martinsburg, WV to Stephen’s City, VA. My parents felt that God was leading them to sell our house in WV and to get out of debt completely. We did what most would consider unthinkable: We moved ten people into a small doublewide- a trailer.
We realized God had another, greater reason in mind for getting us out of debt when, not long after the move we discovered first, that my mom was pregnant, and eight weeks later that she had stage 2 breast cancer. That first night after we’d heard the terrifying news I cried myself to sleep in my parents room. Never had I been so afraid, and never had I seen my mom so upset and afraid that she might not be permitted to see her nine (soon to be ten) children grow up.
Were it not for the fact that my parents had followed God’s leading, they would not have been able to afford the doctor’s bills and the expensive all-natural diet my mom required to survive cancer while being pregnant. Doctors advised her to abort the baby (my younger brother, Jeremiah) but she would hear nothing of it.
They did a lumpectomy (they removed the tumor), and praise the Lord eight years later, against the odds and in spite of the doctors’ original prognosis of 3-5 years, my mom is alive and cancer-free!
Since then we’ve moved twice and my mom had her tenth and last baby (she was forced to get a hysterectomy for health reasons) Olivia, who is now three.
Were it not for God’s faithfulness and the hope we have in Christ our family would have fallen apart. HE was our daily refuge and source of strength.
We attended services and were heavily involved in a Brethren church for about five years, at the end of which my parents decided that in order to do what they felt God desired for them to do we could no longer “go to” church.
They’d been studying for years about the NT Church and felt that much of what we’d believed and practiced was not founded in God’s word or even on Christian principles. They discovered that much (though not all) of “church” as we’d known it was in reality based on the influence of Roman Catholicism and pagan rituals which had been carried into “the church” in an effort to make Christianity more widely received. And so we set out on a course to discover how the true Church (the body/bride of Christ) was meant to function.
Leaving the place of worship we’d been attending for about five years was no small decision, but after speaking with the pastor and elders on several occasions (my dad also was an elder at the time) we left the building.
And what have we discovered since then? A close-knit community of believers each encouraging and exhorting the others to pursue a closer, more intimate relationship with God and His people. We’ve joined with one person or family at a time in discovering the realities of God’s kingdom here on earth- some of us met through the internet (via meet-up.com or home-church websites), and some were introduced locally through everyday life. Each person has a different story and/or background, but all are on a similar quest to freedom in expressing the fullness of Christ in a biblical manner.
LOL, I must smile as I write this, because it sounds perfect. We are FAR from perfect! Now, Christ is perfect, His will is perfect, and His Word is infallible, but add to that imperfect people seeking God, and you have imperfect people in pursuit of a perfect God. It is His work in us that changes us, and our hope and confidence is that as we come nearer to Him, we would become more and more a reflection/expression of Him. We are human (no aliens or angels that I know of), and so each of us in due time has had his/her patience tested through the weakness of another. We are as yet learning what true accountability, fellowship, and forgiveness/grace really looks like. As we say, being in fellowship such as this shows the good, the bad and the ugly in each of us. But I for one would rather love a person (and be loved) for who they really are (and who I am) than for who they (or I) could pretend to be!
And this is my story-- Praise be to the Great Author for all He has done!
Note: This was written some time ago, I am only just now posting it.