Monday, April 02, 2007

I Am A Great Sinner, but He is a Great Savior

Tim Challies has posted a request for testimonies from bloggers. Go check it out and get to know some folks a bit more in depth.

When I was a young girl, I liked to sleep under the stars in the backyard. My two brothers, sister and I would pile a bunch of blankets between a large canvas tarp and they would be asleep long before I was even tired. I spent a good part of the night gazing at the stars watching for satellites, and wondering about God and the Universe.

It seemed I always wondered about God. I was raised in a home that had no recognition of God and in fact, my mother despised any ideas about God. My step-father was a traditional French-Basque Catholic from France, who carved a cross in our french bread before slicing it and attended Mass on Christmas or Easter in odd years, more like rarely. The neighborhood kids were asked by their parents to invite us to church since we were a wild and wooly bunch and in need of "religious instruction". We were invited to the Catholic church by a large Irish Catholic family down the street, to the Mormon church by a large Mormon family up the street, and even to Jehovah Witness meetings by a family many blocks away. I even participated in Catechism classes and got the highest grades. I learned about the miracle of the locusts and seagulls from the Mormons, and was mystified by Communion with thin white wafers from the Catholics. To be honest, I can't remember a single thing from my visits to the Jehovah Witness Hall.

As I got older, I became the epitome of the Hippie culture. I hitchhiked down to Berkeley California, took hallucinogenic drugs (and pondered the reality of God during each trip), and smoked lots of hash and marijuana. I participated in anti-war rallies, and read the counter culture best seller by Richard Alpert called Be Here Now. I also read many other books that emphasized spirituality and New Age. I participated in a group called Ananda Marga Yoga and learned to meditate. I had some friends from the Bay Area (near Berkeley) who were prominent musicians and New Agers, and once found me passed out in an alley when I was 15 and took me under their wing. They were in their early 20's and I really credit them for saving my life. I had been suicidal, stemming from a bad homelife, and when they found me I had consumed a jug of wine, stumbled downtown, and passed out near one of their friend's homes. I traveled with an older guy when I was 17, got pregnant and had my daughter a few months after I graduated from high school. We got married but that relationship dissolved soon after and I was on my own with a toddler daughter during a bad recession. I worked as a motel maid for a year and eventually found another job at a hospital doing dishes. I met a guy with whom I was attracted, and when I asked if he wanted to smoke a joint with me, he told me he had something better. Something warned me not to ask, but I did, and he shared about his relationship with Jesus Christ. My heart sank within me. I really did not like those "Jesus Freaks"! They were just plain weird and so not cool. Despite my chagrin, this guy and I became friends. He continued to share the Lord with me, and I continued to attempt to share New Age ideas with him. After about a year, I agreed to go to a homegroup meeting with him, and during the course of the evening, I accepted the Lord. I really did have a sense that I was starting on a path and would never turn back. Despite the uncoolness factor of my decision, I had been prompted in this direction for quite some time. I could now look back and see many instances of God calling me to Himself. I even thought back to those nights of gazing at the stars and pondering the reality of a God. I remembered my grandmother telling me about prayer when I was a little girl, and me praying earnestly for a certain pair of shoes I wanted. Hey, what did I know? So I was a little Name It Claim It kid! I remembered the time in Seattle when I came across a tract and while reading it in the car, a lady poked her head in and asked me if I knew Jesus. Since it seemed so timely I responded with a Yes! She then proceeded to berate me for wearing pants. I remember not feeling comfortable in my Yoga group, and not knowing who to choose as a "guru" in my life. Despite misguided information and experiences, God mercifully drew me to Himself.

I married the man who had shared the Lord with me. What followed were almost 20 years of difficulties. We struggled continually with finances, my husband's very legalistic leanings, my rebellion towards him and God, his inability and refusal to accept my daughter, my deep depressions and suicidal thoughts, our frequent moves, difficult jobs, extended dysfunctional families, and frequent disappointments. It wasn't all bad. Bright spots included our two children born during this time, great fellowship with other believers, and our determination to make life work. We had wonderful friends who encouraged us and were devastated when after 18 years, our marriage finally crumbled. My husband married an unbeliever and I was single for 10 years after my divorce.

After dealing miserably with the reality that I was a Christian whose marriage ended in divorce, I decided I needed some changes in my life. I have always loved the outdoors and wilderness so I worked at an outdoor wilderness Christian ministry for a summer and spent an invigorating season debating Arminianism vs. Calvinism with the other summer staff, which got me thinking about what I really believed. I had blindly followed the whole Arminian bent of American Christianity for years without even knowing much about what I exactly embraced. I sorta went with the flow and resented God because I couldn't measure up according to my works, in my thinking. After that summer, I became a single foster parent for a season, floundered and went in debt because of that decision, moved to Texas to work in a ministry with teens, and continued my study of Reformed Christianity. I became convinced of the truth of Calvinism and experienced a renewal in my walk with Christ, which was almost like really being born again. All the resentment towards God because I thought He was a cruel taskmaster fell away and I could truly see his mercy and grace in my life and my wretchedness. My frequent depressions also fell away and I discovered a new passion for God.

In God's good time, He brought a man into my life who believed in Reformed Christianity as well. We got married almost three years ago and have continued our growth in grace and mercy together. Between us we have 7 kids and 6 grandchildren. We pray for their salvation and pray we can be a testimony to our families of God's restoration and healing.

8 Comments:

At 4:30 AM, Blogger Patrick said...

GODS INEFFABLE LOVE

About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff was very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 1994, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages [England & Australia]. God LOVES me so much. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17].

Peace Be With You
Patrick

 
At 7:36 AM, Blogger candyinsierras said...

thank you Patrick for sharing. I thank God for his grace and mercy!

 
At 8:04 AM, Blogger DEBTective said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 10:25 AM, Blogger Leslie said...

Amen. Thanks for sharing your testimony!

 
At 3:53 AM, Blogger missmellifluous said...

Your questions are up! Thanks for playing! I can't wait to read your answers.

 
At 3:24 AM, Anonymous missmellifluous said...

Also for you with much thanks, beautiful Candy!

 
At 3:39 PM, Blogger Catez said...

Thanks for sharing this Candy - quite a journey. I was taken with how God drew you to himself.

 
At 8:23 PM, Anonymous Cindie said...

Amen...Jesus is real and your walk your testimony is full on. I was looking to confirm Newtons famous quote and found your blog. Maranatha

 

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