Until about last year when people asked me to share my testimony I’d sigh in frustration because I knew what I had to say wouldn’t be what they were hoping to hear. Back then I thought my story was nothing truly spectacular. I grew up in the church, became familiar with the concept of the trinity at a young age, and placed my life in Christ sometime after. There were no significant revelations, no huge God moments, not even a specific time when I first remember being in His presence. I don’t recall the date I prayed “the prayer,” and I don’t think I understood the value behind my words at the time. I did all the things that a “good Christian” did, yes, but I wasn’t actively growing in my relationship with Jesus Christ. It took me a little time to spiritually get where I’m at now, and it took me even longer to find appreciation for the freedom and opportunities I had once so easily taken for granted.
The story of how I got from one place to another begins with not only my misunderstanding of Christ at a young age, but also with the demonstration of His love from my first grade teacher. Ms. Pollard, the lady who mentored me at that time in my early childhood, was a diehard Cardinals fan, prayer warrior, and attendee of my local church. It was through my time with her in both school and sanctuary that the message of the Gospel slowly began to take on new meaning. She told me Jesus loved me more times than we probably practiced addition, and she demonstrated this love herself in that I felt I could come to her and lay down any burden.
Much like Ms. Pollard, another notable Christian influence was my mom. She was my teacher in first grade and kindergarten when we didn’t live in the best of areas, and she was my teacher from seventh grade on when I was struggling with some of the ways my classmates had been treating me. My experience homeschooling under her command opened up a whole new world of opportunities; and if I had the chance, I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I was given the freedom to study what I wanted (within reason), and I was therefore able to make sure the curriculum I chose was grounded in a strong Christian background. One such specific course that really helped me grow in my faith was Chuck Winter and Frank Turek’s I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be and Atheist. The material gave me a basis on which to define my faith, starting with the very simple fact that, “Truth about reality is knowable.” and working its way up to prove the existence of a historically reliable New Testament. It was a nice change of pace to be able to backup the things I had been told my whole life and therefore discount all other faiths in light of my newer and more deeply rooted beliefs.
Through all these forms of disciplined teaching and learning, my faith began to grow, and when I was eleven, I attended a church camp for the first time. It was there when I once again took the steps in which I redirected the focus of my life and placed my heart in His hands. Only this time, I didn’t mistake my salvation for the words I was saying, but I knew that it was the faith I had behind them that granted me passage into The Almighty Kingdom.
Since the rededication of my life to Christ, there have been many ups and downs, but He has grown me through countless situations nonetheless. One particular event that marked significant progress in my relationship with Him happened in just the last couple of years. I joined a community college and was thrown out of my comfort zone of mutually exclusive groups of Christian people and into a society where the only love people knew of was in unwholesome relationships and Jesus was only a term people used to express their frustration. At first I was repulsed by this community, as any Christian so secluded might rightfully contend, but with a little softening of the heart, I learned to love and accept these people as if they were my own flesh. God taught me many things through that. I learned how building relationships was often the best way to witness, that I should always have an answer for anyone who asks, and, most importantly, that people weren’t where I was at spiritually because often they hadn’t been given the same chances as I had.
It was here where I cultivated a greater appreciation for my family background, church history, and early familiarity with Christ. These opportunities, though they seemed normal to me had not been offered to everyone. My non-Christian friends always pointed this out—how they wished to have had a childhood and upbringing like mine. At that, I began to find value in my testimony. I began to give thanks for things as they were, and it was something truly spectacular, to say the least. This conclusion took me nearly two decades to come to, but it is definitely a timeframe worth sacrificing if you want to realize the same worth in what He had done, is doing, and has yet to do.
Geisler, Norman L. and Frank Turek. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be and Atheist. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2004. Print.