I am the youngest of three sisters. We were all in foster care and then adopted by my parents when I was just a newborn baby. My parents always took us to church, so I heard that I was a sinner and needed to be saved from the time I was very young. (Note: salvation, saved and born again are Biblical terms referring to the forgiveness of sins by God and the rescue of a person from the power and penalty of that sin. This is God’s requirement for everlasting life.)
Even though I knew about God, I was always loving someone more than God. First, my sister Jenni was my idol. I gave my love to her and continued chasing after her, until God took her out of my life. Then it was my sister Desiree, and again God had to take her away. Then I put another person before God, giving my heart away and becoming emotionally attached, forgetting about God. God had to take him away too. “God wanted my love and my life to be all for Him so He could use me for His glory, but I was too busy giving my love and heart away to everyone else.” God wanted my love and my life to be all for Him so He could use me for His glory, but I was too busy giving my love and heart away to everyone else.
In 2004, I began to get concerned about my relationship with God. I started praying and seeking God, and even asked the Lord to save me, but nothing changed in my life. My attitude was still the same and I never had a desire to read the Bible. Basically I went on living the same old way, doing what I wanted to do. Through some events that happened over the next couple of years, I even began to have bitterness and hatred in my heart towards my Pastor, my Youth Pastor, and anyone who was in authority over me. I listened to the wrong kinds of music and the things I would allow to come out of my mouth were vulgar. All these things were pointing toward my lost condition, but I just ignored it and went on living to please myself.
At the beginning of 2007, Pastor Hammett preached a sermon about trials in our life. One thing he mentioned that hit close to home was how God brings a situation into our life to teach us a lesson from it; and if we do not get it the first time, God just keeps bringing it into our life until we understand what God is trying to teach us. The next few months I was miserable. I was very lonely and all my joy was gone. I felt that I was always losing the ones I loved and that no one was ever there for me—not realizing that all the while God was there, reaching out His arms of love to me and all I did was push Him away.
In March our school traveled to Illinois for a School Competition. One of the preachers there, Bro. Gary Dice, preached a sermon on knowing the will of God and how important it is in our lives. He said that the will of God is not something you just do on and off, when you feel like it. The will of God is for all of your life. It is something you need to find and keep on doing constantly. He also preached a message on Daniel and his three friends. He explained how King Nebuchadnezzar did not know these men; all he could do was judge on their character and on their outward appearance.
He then asked a very searching and troubling question: “If your pastor had a list of Godly characteristics, and he was looking for young people who fit those characteristics, would he pick you?” As I sat there thinking about that question, I knew that I possessed none of those Godly characteristics in my life. I was far from being what I needed to be and far from what God wanted me to be. I wondered, “Have I deceived my Pastor and Youth Pastor enough—would they think I was a godly young lady?”
On the way home from Illinois, I sat next to my friend, and we were talking about spiritual things. She was telling me about her personal testimony. She said that she thought she was saved, yet she was doing things like listening to the wrong music, hanging with the wrong people, and her speech was not what it ought to have been. Then she mentioned this verse from the Bible: “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.” (First John chapter one, verse 6) She said when she read that verse, she knew right then and there that she was lost. She was claiming to be saved, but her life was showing that she was not. I sat there and just looked at her, agreeing of course, but deep down inside I knew I was lying. “I also knew I was lost but I didn’t want to admit it.” I also knew I was lost but I didn’t want to admit it.
On Sunday morning our pastor preached a sermon on God’s grace. I was too tired to really pay too much attention, but one thing he said really stuck out to me. He said, “Get in the ark. You don’t want to be the one standing outside of the door when it closes.” That hit me hard. I knew I wasn’t safe inside the ark. I was still outside—I was not saved. After the service was over, I went home. I wanted to take a nap but the Lord wouldn’t let me rest—He kept on speaking to my heart. The song “I’d Rather Have Jesus” just kept going through my mind. The phrase that stuck out most to me was: “I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead.”
I sat on my bed, knowing that I was lost. Even though I claimed to be saved, nothing had changed in my life. I was still trying to control my life and do everything my way. After admitting to myself that I was lost, I thought maybe I needed to go call someone. But I knew that was just the devil trying to get me off track. Besides I didn’t need to call someone and tell them I was lost—I already knew what I needed to do. I cried out to God asking Him to take charge of my life. I didn’t want to be in control anymore because every time I tried to control things, it just ended in hurt and misery. I no longer wanted to be the ruler of my life. That day, April 1, 2007, I finally gave it all to God, repenting of my sins and asking the Lord for His forgiveness. Immediately, I felt so much peace and joy from within. With the Lord in control, I knew everything was going to be alright.
Since that time, the Lord has truly changed my life. I now want to please Him and not myself with all my life—my music, my words, my attitudes, my clothing, my friends. I do not know what the Lord may have in store for me in the future, but whatever it is I am willing to do it. Only by His grace am I here today, and I thank Him for working I my life. There is nothing else out there that is worth chasing after. God is all I will ever need. I am so thankful that He is the one who has always been there throughout every situation in my life. He never left me. “I’d rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today.”