My Story of Faith
If you don’t get anything else from me, I hope that you will get one thing:
At our house, we believe God made people, God loves people, God sent his Son, Jesus, to die for people. We also believe that God still cares about us and what’s going on in our everyday lives! God loves all of us. He doesn’t have favorites, and he wants us to love him too!
1 John 4:7-8 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
This is my story of how I came to be a believer and what God has done in my life.
My God story:
I completely disagree with anyone who says a Christian, or follower of any specific belief system, only does so because that is how they are brought up. Hogwash! Each individual person in this world freely chooses what they believe and whether or not to pursue a relationship with God. There are a great many adults raised in Christian churches that are no longer giving so much as a nod to God in their grown-up lives. And the flip side of that is true as well.
The Bible teaches us that God wants to know us, and when he finds someone who wants to know him, he will reach out to them!
My parents started their family while they were still very young. The first home I remember was a little apartment complex that had a wonderful square in the middle where we played with our neighbor friends and rode our tricycles. Church was not part of our lives at that point. I had two parents who loved me, a sister, and a brother, but none of us were born again believers.
When I was four, I began to wonder who this “God” was. I had heard of him, but that was about it. I did have a neighbor who went to a “Pentecostal” church, and I was very eager to go with her so that I could hear more about God. I was never one to be left out of something good!!!
I can still remember things about that first trip to Sunday School, even though I was so young. I remember the painting of Jesus on the wall; I remember what I wore (I always did care about my clothes!), and I remember the humiliation of not knowing things I thought I was supposed to know. The Sunday School teacher said, “We’ll sing Jesus Loves Me today, because everyone knows that one.” For a prideful, sensitive, smart little girl, this was a shameful thing to me, to be the only one there that didn’t know that song!
Wounded pride aside, I could feel in my spirit that church was where I needed to go to learn about God, and I kept going. My mother, who is the most wonderful mother you could ask for, saw my determination and decided she’d rather find a Baptist church for me to go to, since that is the kind of church she was raised in. That’s how Mom began taking us kids to church, and eventually she was the first of us to become a born again believer.
By the time I was seven, I was finally understanding that I actually was a sinner who had a need for a savior. One Sunday, I couldn’t take the anguish in my spirit any longer, and I went forward to the altar during the invitation. Mrs. Johnny (I think that was her name!), my very sweet and devoted Sunday School teacher, met me at the front. I told her that I wanted to be saved, even though I wasn’t fully understanding of it, I knew I needed it. Mrs. Johnny explained the story of Jesus to me right then, and suddenly it made perfect sense. She said that God loves us so much that he sent his Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins, and that punishment has been taken from us. We need only to believe in Jesus and ask God to forgive us for our sins, and he is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. He will give us the Holy Spirit to live in our hearts to guide us and keep us.
Of course, I don’t remember the exact words that she said to me that day, but I do remember how it suddenly all made sense to me, and I just cried and cried. I cried for shame of how bad I could be, and I cried for joy and relief that God loved me as I was and forgave me.
I also remember that before that day I could feel keenly that God wanted me to be His, but I could equally feel that the devil wanted me to be his. I kid you not that I could almost hear a sinister presence trying to keep me from God. I don’t like to bring it up to people because frankly it makes me sound crazy.
But once I surrendered my spirit to God that day, I never felt that sinister presence again. My decision had been made. I never tossed and turned over spiritual questions at night again.
Past that, I didn’t really grow in my faith until I was a teenager. One day in 8th grade a classmate asked me point blank, “April, are you a Christian?” I hesitated for a minute, wanting to be “cool”, and then I said, “Yes, yes, I am.” That was when I feel like I really began to follow God, and wow what a difference it has made!
About that time, I decided I was tired of just listening to what my preacher said. I wanted to read the Bible for myself and know what it really said. I just loved what I found when I began to read! The Bible is so full of wonderful promises and teaches us a God who loves us.
There have been things in my life I know were sent from Heaven. I won scholarships over people much smarter than me. I was kept safe in some dodgy situations. He gave me a husband and children that I adore and had prayed earnestly for.
Best of all, I have had comfort in each new place we have moved to. Even when I was “alone”, I was never ever really alone.
There have been spiritual highs where I was diving into God’s word and seeing a difference in my life. And there have been lows where my sin is too much to discuss! It’s a journey. We’re still human, but God is still there. I am not a Christian because of anything I did, I’m a Christian because of what Jesus did. So God loves me the same whether I pray all day or ignore him completely. Obviously, though, I am not as happy, and he can’t use me for his work as well, when I’m ignoring him. I love my children the same whether they are obeying me or not, but I am happier with them, and life goes better for them also when they are obeying me. It is just the same with us and God.
These four precious children and my seriously amazing husband are my best gifts from God. I don’t deserve them, but I need to do my best to take good care of these charges entrusted to me. God gives each of us a job to do and the abilities to do it. I fail him often, but he has never failed me.
I hope you also have the joy in your heart that comes from being at peace with God.