April 1, 2012

My "Own" Testimony

A couple of months ago, my mom testified in a church service about how grateful she was for our church’s literature, which is prayed over for the healing of the sick before it is sent out. She was saved when I was three years old and at that point she began trusting the Lord for the healing of our family members. In her testimony, she told of a specific time when I was about four years old and had a sliver in my finger that she couldn’t get out. She put a church paper under my pillow before I went down for a nap, and when I woke up, the sliver was lying next to my hand on the pillow.

Immediately after my mom testified, I thought to myself, I have a good heritage. I have such a good heritage! I was raised in a home where answers to prayer were common, and my mom was sure to point them out to my brother and me. Although I was too little to remember the sliver incident, I do remember being told about it as I grew up. As a somewhat skeptical little girl, it was hard for me to believe that Jesus would even know who I was. But I could not deny that He must know me if He took out my sliver. And that was only one instance among other miracles He did for our family.

When I was seven years old, on the way home from a church service, my mom asked my brother and me if we were ready for Heaven. I told her I did not think I was, so later we went to my parents’ bedroom and prayed. She said a prayer of repentance out loud and I repeated it after her. At that young age I did not fully understand salvation, but I truly wanted to have my heart right with the Lord and I believed He would answer my prayer. That night, I knew I was saved. Not very long after that, when I was only eight or nine, my mom told me that if I wanted to be sanctified all I needed to do was ask God to do it. I didn’t make it any more complicated than that; I asked the Lord to sanctify me and then simply believed He would answer my prayer, and He did.

Even though I was saved and sanctified so young, as I grew up I still had doubts about whether the Gospel was the truth. My mom had told me that when she was saved, everything about her changed—the hatred in her heart was gone, the sinful movies that she had liked became repulsive to her, and with the Lord’s help she stopped telling the lies that she previously could not control. However, my experiences of salvation and sanctification were much less dramatic. I did not “feel” anything, and I did not notice a difference in my behavior, probably because I was raised in a godly home and wasn’t old enough to get into much trouble. As a result, sometime during my middle-school years I started having doubts about whether those experiences had been real. There was a serious struggle in my heart, but what kept me holding on were the answers to prayer I had seen and heard about growing up. Not only was there the time God took the sliver out of my finger, but the time He stopped the snow while our family made a road trip to visit my great-grandmother, and when He instantly healed my brother of his migraine headache, and when He provided exactly enough money to pay our bills—down to the penny. Although my dad wasn’t saved until I was in high school, he had been raised in a Christian home and I heard many stories of healing and miraculous provision from his side of the family as well. Despite the doubts I had, I could see that God must be real because He answered prayers.

Around the time I started high school, I realized I needed to have my own testimony of answered prayers. The Lord was calling me to make a deeper commitment to Him, but I did not have enough faith in Him to make that commitment. The miracles I had heard about growing up were great and I did not doubt what God had done for others, but I could not dedicate my life to a cause based on someone else’s experience. Also, I felt that if it was possible to have a close relationship with the Lord, like what I saw my mom and my grandma had, I did not want to miss that opportunity.

Up until that time, I had been reluctant to take real problems to God in prayer because I was worried He wouldn’t answer, and I didn’t think I could handle that. But as I determined to prove God for myself, He was so faithful to me. I began by asking God for help with relatively small concerns, although they seemed important at the time. Once, I prayed about a class I was struggling with. It was a very difficult subject for me and I felt terrible after getting a bad grade on one of my tests. I prayed for help, and my following test scores were 100%, 100%, and 95%. There was no doubt that God had come through for me, and He far exceeded my expectations! Another time, right before I was supposed to run three miles in my gym class, I got a blister on my foot that made even walking painful. I was really worried about it and decided I had nothing to lose by praying. In a moment, the pain was totally gone and I had no problem running the three miles. These answers did not happen every day, but my faith grew with each one.

Around age sixteen I began seriously seeking for the baptism of the Holy Ghost. I focused on consecrating myself to God and praying for His will in my life. During that time, there were many answers to prayer and times when God gave some kind of encouragement, and each of those instances helped build my confidence in Him and in the promises of the Bible. After my first year of college, God fulfilled His promise to me and filled me with His Holy Spirit. There was not a specific final consecration before I prayed through; I just kept consecrating my life more deeply, and as I did that the Holy Spirit came down more powerfully, until one day He filled me completely and I began praying in another language. In one sense, it was a huge step in my walk with God. Yet, in another sense, it was just one more step closer to the Lord. The Holy Spirit continues to be with me every day, and that is still miraculous to me.

Looking back, I am amazed at how God had His hand over my life from the time I was so little—before I was even aware of who He was. At first it was the miracles He did for my family, which He was faithful to bring to my attention. Later, He allowed just the right challenges to come at just the right times; challenges that were big enough to cause me to realize I needed His help, but not so great that I was overwhelmed by them. And all along the way were countless moments of encouragement and guidance through testimonies, sermons, Sunday school classes, and friends. Believing in God and continuing to serve Him is not always easy. The temptations, pressures, and competing views of this world are strong. Yet every time I have sought the Lord, He has provided more than enough to keep me headed in the right direction.

Truly, I have a good heritage. I was taught about the Gospel from as early as I can remember, and I have benefitted in so many ways from it. I have peace in my heart and a clear conscience; I don’t have to worry about the future because I know the Lord has it planned already; and God has given me a purpose in life. I want nothing more than to give everything I can to Him, and for those who are not saved to experience these blessings too.

apostolic faith magazine