My Testimony

The testimony of my faith in Christ has been difficult for me to understand, but now I finally do, so I'll share it with you. I grew up in the non-denominational church. My parents were both believers, brought us to church, served in under-served neighborhoods, we visited orphanages in Mexico. I saw first-hand the impact that hands-on ministry can have on others- the destitute can lift their tired eyes, have hope, and learn that God exists, and who Christ is, through his missionaries. I remember so vividly the day I asked God to come into my heart and save me from my sins (one reason I may remember so well was because I prayed as I walked into my preschool classroom, walking right into the door jam- when my teacher asked me what happened, I was too embarrassed to tell her I had just been praying for my salvation). That was the moment I consider the beginning of my walk with God. As a child, I took my faith seriously; I prayed often, explored my bible, and pondered spiritual matters continually. As my faith grew, so did my questions. Questions that I began asking about, and did not receive answers to. "We don't need to know those things". For what?, I wondered. The answer was: for salvation. But aren't we supposed to be disciples of Christ? Isn't there more to this faith than just my own salvation? My questions were silenced, but remained. Fast forward to high school. I started going to a local youth group and met my future husband and a God-fearing family that would become a second family to us both. At this point, I was encouraged to ask questions, but the same answers remained, only this time met with concern- "Why are you thinking about those things?", "God did not intend for us to know those answers.", "It is blasphemous/presumptuous to ask those questions." The questions that had been gnawing at me since childhood were: How do we know God exists? How do I know the Bible is God's word? Can people that don't have the Bible know God? What happens after death? Why is there suffering? What is marriage and why should people have a wedding? Will everyone that didn't pray for Jesus to save them go to hell (including those in the Old Testament).

You know that point when hunger turns to anger? They call it "hangry". At this point in my life, I was officially hangry for the gospel. The questions remained, but their echoes in my mind became ever hushed, until they fell silent. No one knows, I thought. Maybe we can't know. I could not live with "we can't know" being the singular answer to my life's greatest questions. So I went to college. A great university. I had great teachers that seemed so wise, who asked the same questions, and then taught me that to answer them was to free my mind of them. All religions are the same, they said. See? Muhammad, Buddha, Christ- they're all saying the same thing; the central idea is the same: love. (Which, by the way, is not true). But I fell for it, hook, line and sinker. The bait was too good- "don't worry about studying any one religion; in the end, just love others and realize all things come from the same life-source- and that is what we all call 'God'". "Free yourself from the confines of religion". These mantras worked their way into my mind, and provided temporary relief from my questions, but something deep within remained. I had a good friend that questioned me why I believed about a "big man in the sky" and how silly that was. I didn't have an answer. Another friend was from a mixed-religion home and shot the final blow: "in the end, religion is just man's search for meaning, in a meaningless world". I had no response. Whatever was left of my Christianity was crumbled, and I was left with "all religions are basically the same", "religion is just man's search for meaning" (with the implication being that this was ignorant and even wrong), and- most fatal of all- "in the end, we can't really know". But I could not let go of an underlying notion of the existence of God, and that Christ lived, still lives, and is God's son; I just couldn't say why. But in the darkness, new questions emerged: "how do we know what is real?", "how do I know anything at all?", "where does thought come from? what are feelings?" At this point, I was 20 years old. It may seem like these questions revealed a soul that was alive, but it was more like being stuck in a dream-state; nightmare at worst, foggy at best, a murmur of words and ideas.

During this time of my own spiritual Great Depression, the only daughter of that God-fearing family I mentioned, was about to wed. I traveled back home for her beautiful wedding, and there, across the room, was him-  the man that would be my future husband. I had anyways known I'd marry him one day, and there he was. And he saw me. We spent the next 3 years in a valley of indecision, searching the caverns of truth together, never finding the answers but coming closer all the time. He shared my questions, but had his own, that ran deeper and settled for less. We went back to our old church and became youth leaders. The pastor asked him one day why he had never been baptized. He asked the pastor why he should- "because we're Baptist, that's what we do." He never went back. We found a more thoughtful church, but it still felt fragmented. The pastor referenced other thinkers and theologians besides the Bible to gain perspective on it; it was refreshing, but there was still a lot missing. We met with the pastor, and he named our questions "open-fisted"- relevant, but not of fundamental importance. We realized we had been looking for a foundation. He never went back, but I remained for a time. At this point, we owned a home together but were unmarried. We were committed to each other but didn't understand what marriage was or why we should partake of it. Not a single answer could be found. "Because the Bible talks about marriage." "Well how do I know the Bible is God's word?" "That's blasphemy. Are you even a Christian?" And round we went, feeling more alienated and alone in our thirst for knowledge as the years went on. Until one day, one of the sons of that God-fearing family called us and said "There's someone you've got to meet. He has answers." Ironically, when we first met the man that would become my husband's best friend, the first thing he provided was not an answer, but a question: "How do you know that you know anything at all?" That singular moment changed our lives forever.

The aforementioned friend walked us through philosophy (what can be known about God by means of reason and general revelation), theology (scripture- the Old and New Testaments of the Christian Bible), and historic Christianity (the work of the Holy Spirit throughout history) over the next several months and years. We finally got married, after reaching moral law 7- the principles underlying the 7th commandment. We met so many others who once had the same questions we did and who were now growing in the knowledge of the only, living and true God. We grew. We learned to love. Our questions were answered, but not in the way we expected. Not only were they not answered in a fragmented, detached manner, but we were given a solid, systematic foundation upon which to understand the questions: how to think (logic), how to understand how I know (epistemology), what is real (metaphysics); what can be known about God by all his works of creation and providence, what he has revealed to us about the plan of salvation and Christ through the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, how the Holy Spirit has worked throughout all of history to bring about his redemptive plan of salvation through pastors, teachers, creeds, counsels; how reason and clarity are fundamental elements of the Christian faith, and that the Earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the seas (Isaiah 11:9, Habakkuk 2:14). We realized that all of history had been screaming the same refrain, we just needed to rise above the noise to hear it.

Our God is a God of order, not chaos; he delights in our understanding him deeply, and drinking from the wellspring of his light and life. Christ came to us personally, but the work of mankind is also corporate, communal, and cumulative. It is not for our personal salvation alone, but for the whole Earth to be taken captive to the Glory of the Lord. Salvation is the first stepping stone in what is intended to be a long life of discipleship and sanctification. Joining in the Great Discussion, I hope to take my mind and my life captive and to understand how all the great works of human history all point to the One who is above all, through all, and in all. As trees through the ages, may we all grow in maturity & fruitfulness, and unity & fullness, together.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your testimony. : )