Monday, March 5, 2012

My Story...

The last couple weeks in church (I guess it was technically Sunday School), Pastor Dan has been challenging us to write out our "story".  The story of how we each came to have a relationship with God.  

So I started thinking...

The point of writing down your story is so that you can more comfortably share it with others... My blog is the perfect place to share that because I can accomplish both at once!  Writing my story, and sharing it with others {meaning the two or three people that read this} ;)

Without further ado...



I was born into a Christian family... not only are my parents Christians, but my grandparents too... AND my dad is "in the ministry" (from Youth Pastor to Children's Evangelist to Camp Director to Children's Pastor).  This being the case, we went to church every Sunday (morning and evening) and every Wednesday.  I learned all the stories about David and Goliath, Noah, Shadrach Meshach and Abednego {there is video evidence of me teaching this story to my imaginary Sunday School class. I was born to teach. HA!}, Abraham and Isaac, Daniel, and of course Jesus from birth to death to resurrection! 

That was my childhood and I loved it all.  I loved the years of traveling around the country with my family as my Dad taught thousands of different children about God's love. I loved the summers we spent at camp. I loved being a part of Children's ministry with my parents and learning from them exactly what it means to show God's love to children.  

My personal journey began in April of 1997 {almost 15 years ago!}.  That is a day that I don't think I'll ever forget.  I can't remember the whole day, but I do remember sitting in a children's church service and hearing the gospel once again {the good news of Jesus death and resurrection that paid the penalty for my sin-and yours- so that I can spend eternity with Him in Heaven} from whoever was teaching the class.  I sat there and realized that even though, I had heard that story probably a hundred times, I had never made the choice to follow Him for myself.  I had never asked Jesus, the Son of God, to forgive me for my sin and become a part of my life.  Well, sure, He was a part of my life because I was in church all the time and my parents and grandparents loved him, but I had not made that commitment personally.  I knew that if I would have died that day, I would have spent eternity separated from God forever in Hell.  That was a scary thought for a 7 yr old.  Right there in my chair, I closed my eyes and prayed that Jesus Christ would forgive me of my sins and save me from eternal punishment in Hell.  I knew that I wanted Jesus to be a part of my life forever, and I wanted to spend eternity with Him in heaven {and I still do!}.  

From there, my life didn't change very dramatically.  Yes, I now had Jesus as my Savior, but I still occasionally disobeyed my parents, was mean  sometimes unkind to my brothers and sister.  I went to church just as I had before, and I knew all the right things to say and do at church {including pasting a smile on my face as soon as we walking in the door of the church, pretending I wasn't mad at my brother or sister or parents because I knew - from the dozens of times my parents reminded us- that everyone there had their eyes on the "pastor's kid"}.  I can't say I'm proud of the ways I put on the "Christian facade", when I felt {and was acting} the opposite.  No matter how much I "faked it" in front of people at church, God knew what was really going on in my heart. He knew the dramatic change that He was about to bring into my life.  

My 8th grade through 10th grade years were a turning point in my relationship with Christ. Sure, I was "saved" before that.  I was going to heaven, but I had taken for granted the fact that the creator of the universe loved me and wanted to have a personal relationship with me.  

So, God lovingly brought me to my knees...

First, my dad was diagnosed with cancer for the second time. His first battle with cancer was when I was 4 so I don't remember it at all.  As an 8th grader I was scared. I wasn't sure what lay ahead. I had no idea if this awful disease would take my dad away from our family or not.  It was not fun seeing my dad, the strongest, funniest, smartest guy in the world to me, sick.  And there was nothing I could do about it.  And my story could end there, but it doesn't. 

My favorite passage of the Bible during that time became Psalm 46...  

"God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
Come, behold the works of the LORD,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah"

These verses gave me peace.  I knew that even though I felt like my whole world was falling apart, God was my refuge and strength.  I had no reason to be afraid.  My mom also introduced me to 2 Timothy 1:7 "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."  I also began to pray hard.  I had never prayed like that before.  I prayed that God would heal my dad of his cancer.  As I prayed and looked to God for answers and comfort, I grew leaps and bounds in my relationship with Him because I learned to trust Him with everything.  After months of praying, God answered my prayers.

My dad was and is cancer FREE!  Even his doctor called it a miracle.  It was an amazing thing to see God answer my prayers {and that of hundreds of others praying for my dad} in such a big way.  I had never experienced that kind of answered prayer before.  But God wasn't done with teaching me to trust him... As my Dad's battle finished, my Grandpa's battle began.  He was also diagnosed with cancer.  This was another big blow in my life to that point.  I loved my grandpa.  He was the Music pastor at the church where my Dad was the Children's pastor {How cool is that? My dad got to work with his dad!} He was the reason I loved music and singing so much, and he taught me and encouraged me through every performance.   I was blessed to be a kid who grew up in the same town as both sets of grandparents {I might be a little bias, but I also have the best grandparents in the world}  Again, this was scary, to have another man that I loved dearly, facing this awful disease.  Why would God do this to my family?  Didn't he remember we already fought cancer in our family?  

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:9 ESV)

There was more we needed to learn.  I guess I wasn't quite done learning how to completely depend on God {I don't think I'll ever be done learning this}.  At the end of His first round of surgeries and treatment the doctors said my Grandpa was in remission.  Again, I was overjoyed to see God answer my prayers with a yes.  

But a few months later, the battle began, and this time there was nothing more the doctors could do.  I remember the night my mom gathered me and my siblings together to tell us the news.  It was the hardest words I've ever had to listen to.  I also remember praying together as a family that night.  We prayed that God would choose to do a miracle and heal our Grandpa, but we also prayed that if God chose to take him home to heaven that he would give us the strength and peace.  That became my prayer over the next few months.  Prayer for strength and peace.  My heart was broken, and there were many nights where I cried and prayed myself to sleep.  It was not easy, but I learned so much about trusting God through that time.  I remember the last time Grandpa was able to speak and told me that he loved me. I remember the last time I saw his eyes open, looking for Jesus to come take him home {away from the neighbors "yapping dogs"}.  In April of 2006, we said "see ya later" to my Grandpa.  It was the week before Easter {His favorite holiday}, and it made for a bittersweet holiday.  We were missing him, but glad that he was able to spend Easter with Jesus. 

I cannot say that this time in my life was fun or easy, but because of the things that I learned and the way it brought me closer to God, I wouldn't trade it for anything.  I wish I could say that life has been a cake walk ever since, but life rarely ever is a cake walk.  I also don't want you to think that having a relationship with God has made my life terrible.  Actually, I hope you think the opposite.  My relationship with God has given me hope and life.  It has even brought joy even in the midst of trouble.  God has used the more difficult times to help me to grow, but he has also blessed me beyond what I deserve {maybe a "blessings" post is in order for the near future}. God is still teaching me many things, including how to trust Him.  He is still using circumstances in my life to give me a stronger relationship with Him.  

My story isn't over, and I don't think it ever will be as long as I'm here on this earth.  God has more to teach me, and the more I learn... the more I become and echo of Him, my Creator and Savior.

1 comment:

  1. wow, Alyssa! Thanks for sharing. It is so awesome to see those things from your view point. I'm so thrilled because you have chosen to make our family's faith your very own. That's how it is when we walk with Jesus. I can tell you, live it before you (hopefully) and pray that you believe, but ultimately it's YOUR relationship with Christ. I love you, Sissa! I have no greater joy than to know that my children walk in Truth. love, Mom