I asked the Lord to come into my heart at a young age; four or five, I think. I grew up in a family that loved God and taught His word. I was happy and content with my life. I could challenge the status quo by continuing life as it was. I was home educated, being raised in a large family, and I loved it! Why would I want things different?
The world, through my young eyes, was foreign. How could anyone want something different than what I had? ... What did I have? I'm not even sure I knew. I wanted to tell others about Jesus. Whether that meant asking them point blank if they were a Christian, or singing gospel songs on the top of my lungs, it didn't matter. I was young and had no fear of what someone might say or think. If they didn't know God, they needed to know, simple as that.
As I was entering my "young teen" years, things were not very different. Telling others about the gospel was still very important to me. Now I wouldn't talk about salvation to a complete stranger, but as I got to know someone, I would jump at the first opportunity presented.
I was shy though. In a crowd, I mostly stuck with my parents or a sibling. I didn't really talk to anyone, unless they came over to me.
Then, as I got older, something interesting happened; people wanted to know MY opinion! Now, this wasn't necessarily new, but I began to realize something: Almost everything I believed was true because my parents said so. They had always encouraged us to seek the scriptures and know what we believed and why, however, I was only just beginning to find out what they meant.
Had I failed to read the Bible? Not at all. What I had failed to do was read and seek to understand. This mistake of mine made the Bible something I did because I had to, not because I wanted to.
As you may guess, I slowly lost interest in reading God's word. Christianity was a religion not a lifestyle, though I certainly didn't realize it at the time. Oh, I still prayed, and read my Bible, and even witnessed to a person or two, this, however, were acts of the mind, not acts to God from my heart.
Then, roughly four years ago, God got my attention. Circumstances and events disrupted the "safety bubble" I had created for myself. I needed answers, and I needed to know what was happening and why. I needed to know for myself, because it was directly affecting me in a way that caught me off guard. It was one of the hardest times of my life, but I can see now, it was a time of major growing in Christ and His word. I was reading the Bible again because I wanted to. I was seeking to know "the reason for the hope that was in me." with fervor.
As the struggles continued, I prayed that things would be different. I begged God to answer my prayer, and He did. This answer, however, was not what I had asked, but the very opposite.
Looking back, I can only thank Him, and praise God for his awesome providence and mercy. I rededicated my life to Christ and tried to live more for Him. I wanted to live in such a way that brought glory to His name. The verse in Romans 8 meant more to me than ever before: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
At one time I had claimed to believe it, now I can personally attest to its truth.
Christianity should be a joy; something we live out daily, not reading the Bible and going to church on Sundays. It's so easy to fake it, especially if you've been raised in a Christian family. It's so easy to think you're doing okay by comparing yourself to the world and their low standard. I should know. I did.
Now, as a young lady of twenty, I still have a long way to go. However, I can now confidently say that my faith is something I am living out with joy. It is something I do because I want to, not because I have to.
Do you ever wonder what you should be doing as a Christian, or if you are doing enough? Friend, if you are saved, you will read your Bible because you want to. You will strive to know Christ because you want to. We are not saved by our works, but by our works, others may know we are saved.
I know I will stumble. I know I won't always want to read my Bible or pray. I know I will have more trials, but I also know I serve a God who is bigger than all that: a God with an infinite, providential power. He sees the bigger picture, and knows what will bring me closer to Him. Praise God!
Through the years, this is a passage that I had to bring to mind many times: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he shall make your paths straight." We will never come to a place in Christianity where we have "arrived", or when we suddenly figure out all the mysteries in scripture. We will constantly have more to learn and more room to grow, but thank the Lord! For this truth we can rely completely on Him and constantly seek to know Him more. We serve such an awesome God!
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17
Sunday, December 1, 2013
Thanksgivingless Written by: Kelsey Hoppman
November 27, 2013
Penniless stands the young businessman. Now
Facing the world without any clue how.
Greedy and sharp was the game that they played.
Leaving this gent with a debt never paid.
Crippled for life she has none in this world.
Desperate for glory that's lost and unfurled.
Innocence longs for one step in her mind.
Struck with great terror. Tell death, left behind.
Rough, wrinkled hands grasp the bare, little sign.
Homeless and numb in this raw wintertime.
Salty, wet tears flood his glum, darkened face;
Hopeful for love, or a friend, or embrace.
Tears from the grieving, young parent fall fast.
How could she know her child's breath was her last?
Crumb'ling into a dark, anguished abyss,
Wishing for just one last word, smile, or kiss.
Angered and wounded, agony cries.
Hopeless in suff'ring and lost in the lies.
Only through One will they truly find grace:
Saved through Christ's death and forever embrace.
Thankfulness rests not on our weakened frame.
Following Christ we can trust in His name.
Absence of One to give thanks to, confess,
Leaves us to wander and Thanksgivingless.