To get started, I'll share my faith story. Below is my testimony, written and given four years ago when I was baptized.
A beach, a byline, and a blank sheet of paper
One evening in June of 1999 I found myself walking along the beach in South Padre Island, Texas. I was 23 years old. I was tired, hurting and unfulfilled. I was still trying to figure out how I ended up in South Padre on a Missions Trip with a group of high school students.
I had accepted Christ in 3rd grade at a Bible Camp. I grew up in a Christian home and attended youth group faithfully. But once I graduated from high school I no longer pursued my relationship with the Lord. During my college years I enjoyed living in the world and earthly pleasures. It was fun – for a while. But in February of 1999 my boyfriend of five years broke up with me and my world came crashing down.
A girlfriend and I began attending a new church and we joined a College-n-Career group in the spring. I met some incredible friends, but I was lonely and desperate for direction in life.
In late spring I received a phone call asking if I would consider being a leader on a Missions Trip with a team from my church. In June I graduated from the University of Minnesota and just a few weeks later I found myself traveling on a bus with kids who were so passionate about serving God that they ministered to me. I quickly realized that the only reason I was on that trip was because God knew that I needed to get right with him.
So there I was on a beach in Texas. In my hand I carried a blank piece of paper. A speaker on the trip challenged us to sign our name to the bottom of a blank sheet of paper when we were ready to sign over our life to God. I struggled with God. I wrestled over the what ifs, how comes, and an unknown future.
I didn’t think it strange at the time, but now that I am a writer I think it’s ironic that God challenged me with a blank sheet of paper! Could I really sign my byline to a blank sheet of paper? Could I give God control and let him write my life story?
Yes I could. I had made enough mistakes trying to write my own story. That night was a significant turning point in my life.
Luke 15 tells the Parable of the Lost Sheep. Jesus said: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.”
The parable of the Lost Sheep describes my faith journey. I had left God. But He came after me – his lost sheep – put me on a bus, met me on a beach and then joyfully placed me on His shoulders and brought me home.
I am blessed to say that Acts 22:16 is now part of my life story. “And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.” Today I have the privilege of being baptized by Mike Binder and my husband, Ryan.
It’s difficult at times to let God write my story. I’m an independent, self-reliant and prideful sheep. But I am so very thankful for a shepherd who continually guides me back to Him.
This song was one that encouraged me to 'step out on the water' and be baptized. It has been very influential in my life...
In re-reading my testimony and listening to this song, I think a few things are interesting: One....I had no idea when I wrote my name on that sheet of paper, how God was going to write my life story. I am so thankful that I signed my life - and my unknown future - over to Him. Two...the decision to follow Jesus as Lord of my life is not made in the midst of the trial. It's made today. It's made now. Either we follow the Lord come hell or high water, or we choose to walk our own path. Three...the lyrics of this song include the words, "If you draw us to the fire, you will not withdraw your hand" and "If you say wait, we will wait." Incredible, that even then, God was shaping my heart for what lay ahead.