I have had the privilege of growing up in the Body of Christ. It's had it's shares of ups and downs, but even now I wouldn't trade it for the world. Through 37 years I have learned some amazing lessons and been blessed and frustrated through out it all. But even now I know that even when humans fail me that God is always at my side and with me.
My parents were both children of God. My mom was young when my grandparents came to know Christ and my dad became saved shortly after he married my mom. A few months later God called my dad to be a pastor. Even after his death we attended church and Mom worked hard to instill the need for Christ in our lives in us every day. I got the privilege of attending a private school but eventually went on to public school. Through all of this I attended church and tried to please God, but I always felt I fell short somehow. It wouldn't be until I was 16 1/2 that God and I would find a place of understanding.
My Junior year of high school was beginning and our church had a really amazing teen group come to visit our church. They were the Trinity Nazarene Teens and we spent the weekend getting to know them until Saturday night when they performed for us and Sunday morning they would again perform and share our service with us. Getting to know them was nice, but it was Saturday night when they began singing I knew I was in the presence of God. In that moment, I knew I was unworthy. I had asked Jesus into my heart, but this was different, I saw how wretched I was and how mean my heart and mind really were and I didn't want to be that anymore. I cried through the whole service and the alter call couldn't come fast enough. I realize now that was the moment I was Sanctified - the Holy Spirit came to live in me and be with me. I haven't regretted it since.
I have had questions, I have sometimes doubted and I have even expressed my displeasure with God at times (1996 is a good example of that time) but through it all in the end I know that God has it in His hand and it will happen in His timing and not mine.
I was asked recently how I knew when something was God speaking to me. I have to be honest I had to really think about how to explain it, because I just felt like I know. But the truth is once I take something to God in prayer I find that I have a peace about it and when it's right I just seem to know it. This has held true in 1999 when I prayed about Sicily - I had felt the tugging on my heart before, but there were too many things standing in the way and too much uncertainty. I told God I wanted to obey, but I had too many debts and I owed SNU money. But in 1998 when Dr. Culbertson talked about Volunteer Service it was right - no more debts on a car or to SNU, it was now or never while I had to opportunity. When I was praying over a husband I didn't have, I knew that God had someone in mind, it was just a peace I had a sense of calm that He had a plan. Sunday is a very good example of just knowing our need was already going to turn out okay. I didn't tell anyone at church, not out of a sense of pride or fear of asking for help, but because I had prayed about it and I knew God had a plan. He did plus some because he remembered that we needed toilet paper and I had forgotten. He knew before we did that our gas tank wouldn't make it until Wednesday if He didn't intervene and so he did.
Once a roommate of mine told me that it wasn't God's plan for my life that it was always in upheaval and that I should have to struggle so much. My answer still today would be - you are wrong! It is in those times of struggle and absolute nothingness that I find God is prevalent the most - He shows himself in my life in a way that can only be divine intervention. It is through those times that God makes Himself known not only to me, but to others. It was through a terrible car accident that he proved again that "Jesus Never Attended a Funeral He Didn't Interrupt." It was that sermon that still stays with me now. When Matthew was fighting a second time for his life it was in the moments when Pastor Terry Jones was sitting with my brother he could feel the Parade of Death marching around Matthew and he began to pray. It was in the moment when Matthew cried out through the tubes going down his throat that suddenly the Parade of Death left the room and the Parade of Life entered in - that sermon has remained with me even now and it makes me want to cry tears of joy.
People ask me how do I know God is real? I know because He shows himself to me daily in the little things. Nature, my daughter's smiles or laughter. I know He Lives when I see Elizabeth playing and making friends like other children after years of battling to gain ground. I know God exists because so many times He works in my life or in the life of those I love and cherish - even if they don't always see it.
Have a good week.