My Personal Testimony
As I recall, I was a teenager the first time I visited a church. I remember looking at what I considered “all the shiny, happy people” and feeling like I didn’t belong. This was no fault of the church, but my own feelings of shame, guilt, and remorse over a lifetime of bad choices. The friend who invited me gave me my first bible, “The Good News Bible,” which I still have today. It collected dust for many years.
My life changed dramatically when I met my husband, a praying man, and his family. I’ll never forget the first time he took me home to meet his mom. My mother-in-love came out the front door to meet me with a huge embrace and surprising declaration (at least to me): “Honey, I’ve been praying for you!!” At the time, I figured having her pray on my behalf couldn’t hurt because I knew a Holy God wasn’t going to listen to prayers from the likes of me, wretch that I am. She called me almost daily to talk. And every conversation I ever had with her would eventually lead back to God. She would tell me the most astounding stories about how God loves, heals, provides, and forgives. I didn’t believe her, but I listened to be kind. (Do you see the irony here?!:))
When her time came to depart from this earth, I was taken aback by the huge void in my heart. Her unconditional love, grace, power hugs, and prayers had become such a comfort in my life. Selfishly, I wondered: who is going to pray for me now?!!
Her service was beautiful. People from all over lined up to share what an impact this sweet woman had made in their lives with her love and simple kindness. Even in death, she looked like an angel to me… kind of ethereal. The presiding pastor spoke about how much time we spend in our lives planning/worrying about things that don’t really matter. In regards to vacations, we exert an extraordinary amount of time and energy planning exactly where we will go, what we will pack, who we will see, and which attractions we will visit. Then he asked: “But how many people spend even close to that much time considering their eternal futures?” This woman, my mother-in-love had. Even as I thought it, the pastor declared in his booming voice: “This woman had her reservation to heaven. His name is Jesus Christ.”
I wanted what Nana had; I wanted my reservation to heaven too. Not long after the service, I got down on my knees in the quiet of my room to pray. I brought all my doubts, guilt, shame, and laid them before God. I told God that I wanted to know him… really know him, like my mother-in-love. But, I had no clue where to start or how to pray. As I was baring my heart, I felt a scripture come to mind. I reached for my bible, wiped away the dust, and looked it up:
“But when you pray, go to your room, close the door, and pray to your Father who is unseen. And Your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.”
Of interest were the next few verses (Matt 6:9-13) where Jesus teaches his disciples how/what to pray. As for me, He had me at “close the door and pray.”
By His amazing grace, I am happy to report that I’ve been part of a beautiful church family (Methodist) for many years. Far from perfect, we find great joy in sharing our brokenness while seeking the wholeness of Christ. The only “shiny, happy people” that I see are the ones whom I know have found a joy unspeakable that no person or circumstance can ever snatch away. In union with Christ, I now consider it a great privilege and joy to pray for others! The results are God’s business.
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; “