When we are busy making plans and embarking on work for the future, it is beneficial to reflect on God’s own work in the past. I’ve posted this previously but after looking back for myself this afternoon and considering where I’ve been, I thought I would share my testimony with you once more. As I type this summary, I am thankful for the memories of my salvation that flood my thoughts. I believe my rescue was orchestrated by God himself, because Jesus met me where I was. Praise God that he chose to not leave me there.
I grew up in a family where Jesus and the Bible were never mentioned. My dad’s dynamic personality set the tone of our home, and he was agnostic. Despite the lack of biblical influence in the days of early childhood, a fourth grade friend introduced me to the children’s ministry of a local SBC church. Romans 10:17 says that “faith comes by hearing by the Word of God,” and it was during the week of Vacation Bible School I heard truth. As written about Lydia, Paul’s first European convert in Acts 16:14, “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention,” and this particular day was no different. The summer of my tenth birthday, God saved me! Whether curiosity or a God-given desire to know more of Jesus, I walked to church on Sunday mornings and learned from a faithful teacher. About six months in, I was baptized. John 6:44 says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them,” and I am so grateful. I’m a child of the King!
Early on, I valued serving Christ and his Church. Over the years, my heart shifted from teaching children to reaching, leading, and serving women. Serving in my church, coupled with a time of leadership in B.S.F., deepened my appreciation of God’s equipping. But the more I grew in maturity of my own faith and with the opportunities I had been afforded, I also knew God expected me to do my part. I developed a deep desire to represent His Word rightly (2 Tim. 2:12) and with that in mind, my story took a turn.
At the age of 56 I sat in a classroom for an advanced theology track in Ft. Worth, Texas. With much younger men and women (pastors and would-be counselors) to my right and to my left, I gripped my pen and fixed my mind on every word coming from the front of the room. Despite decades of Bible study and faithful church attendance, it wasn’t until learning these ancient truths that theological gaps emerged. But there was something in those particular moments that I was sure of, maybe even convicted of: I needed to carry learning further. And by the grace of God, I did just that through Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Even though I had known Jesus since childhood, it wasn’t until poring over these doctrines I began to know and understand with clarity what Christianity is. In this season of formal education, I gained an understanding of how theological views affect all aspects of life. It was a busy time, but it was the best of times. With the filling of those theological gaps, my life’s focus changed: God’s purposes in me and with me became clear.
Make no mistake here. My 62 years of life experience has walked a curvy path. Yet, consistency in my faith walk combined with love from God’s people has been a sustaining factor. I’ve known since my day of salvation that no matter life circumstances, I have assurance of my heavenly inheritance. By way of the cross, I live life eternal – a sinner, yet forgiven by God’s amazing grace. I have been justified by grace, the atoning blood of Jesus, and through faith (Rom. 3:23-24) that He is the Christ who died and rose again on the third day.