Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Welcome to My Story - The Spreading Light

When God began to mend the many hurts in my heart, it was impossible for me not to respond to Him with love; He pursued me and He loved me and He healed me day by day, and I fell deeper in love with my Savior as a result. I started to see how well He handled my life when I let Him control it, so I slowly began surrendering more of it to Him.

It didn't escape my notice that my outlook on life was changing; I started to have hope for my future, both in this life and in the one to come. I wasn't afraid of being in control and having to push myself along to success anymore; I could rely on the One who calls Himself faithful, and He was taking care of the rest. My appearance no longer held power over me, either; God replaced my fixation with my external appearance with a desire to be inwardly beautif
ul. Though of course I still tried to look good, it was no longer something I relied on for validation; the Lord called me wonderful and significant, and I was content to let the joy and love inside of me be the measure of my beauty.

Inwardly, there was no question that I had become a different person, a "new creation" as the Bible calls it. Outwardly, too, there was evidence of change: He had begun to restore my relationship with my mom, and the loud, miserable arguments we constantly had were gradually being replaced by a mutual respect and appreciation for one another (even if we still didn't see eye-to-eye much of the time). As well, God had given me peace about my grades, and released me from the burden of having to be "the best." I gave it my best shot, and He took care of the rest; He still blessed me with a respectable (almost 90%) average in the end, which I attribute to His graciousness rather than my "brilliance."

I became actively involved in attending Bible studies, youth group, and Sunday worship. My knowledge about Him grew, and my relationship with Him deepened. I could finally say that I knew Jesus personally, and He knew me.

As God continued to work in my life, He began to bring forth the aspects of my character that were sinful: my arrogant pride, my desire for vengeance, my anger. I felt convicted about these things, and as I asked Him to forgive me and give me the strength to work past them, He did (and continues to do). Somewhere along the way, I guess my family took notice of the changes that were happening to me.

One of my little sisters started coming to church with me. She learned about Jesus during her time there, and eventually came to know Him as her personal Savior; since then, I have seen amazing positive changes in her disposition and her life.

While I was in Bible college, my other sister and I had a heart-to-heart over the phone, at which point I had the privilege of praying with her as she invited Jesus Christ to become her personal Savior. This was the first step in a spiritual journey that has brought her to an active relationship with Him.

I also had the privilege of introducing my little brother to Jesus. He was really young at the time, but I believe God planted a "seed" in his young mind about Him, and started to reveal Himself to him over the course of his childhood. Since then, my brother has grown impressively in his knowledge and faith in God.

Of the members of my family, my dad was the one we worried about the most. From the time I had become a follower of Jesus Christ, I became a target of his scorn. As a hardcore atheist, he was resistant to everything that that the rest of his family believed in. Watching us say grace at the dinner table angered him, and seeing us go to church on Sunday frustrated him. When I expressed my desire to go to Bible college, he forbade me. When I decided to get baptised, he almost didn't come to support me. It was only after more than a decade of seeing the awesome changes occuring in the lives of his family that he softened his attacks on God and on us.

Eventually, he began to see that he was missing out on something beautiful that the rest of us had come to experience. He longed for the je ne sais quoi that he saw evidenced in our hearts and our lives. By his own admission (as stated during his testimony), he was particularly perplexed by the 180-degree changes he saw in my life and my mother's, and wanted to know the source of this. Finally, after 10 long years of our prayers for him, my dad made a decision to ask Jesus into his heart. With some fear and uncertainty, he took a step of faith and committed himself to following the Christ who had changed his family. I am proud to say that the man I call Dad today is, by all accounts, an entirely different man from the one who mocked me when I started going to church at the age of 15.

And this is how God, in His infinite love and mercy towards His children, brought my family to salvation and gave us eternal life.


janeylynne said...

That was such a beautiful and inspirational story. There were many times in my youth where I felt all was hopeless, but I realized that God would give me the strength to get through those times. I went through a major lapse of faith in my senior year in college that carried over until a few years ago. I am just now beginning to realize how important my faith is to me and how much I want it to be a part of my relationship with my husband, my stepdaughter and any future children we may have.

Great story, Mrs. L.!

Ontario Emperor said...

This post is, in some ways, the best part of the entire series. How the Holy Spirit works through us is a mystery, and in our limited human wisdom we wonder why He'd use "jars of clay" such as us to do His work.