While I have some amazing friends, a wonderful church community, great coworkers and a family that I love, the person I can't live without is Jesus. I know some people might think, "well of course you would say that, it is what you are supposed to say as a Christian." But I really do mean it with all sincerity. This will be a long post so I will understand if you stop here with the knowledge that I cannot live without Jesus and don't want to know the whole long explanation of why.
A couple of months ago at an Evangelism training night, we were asked to share our testimonies in 3 minutes. I think I took 10. I have shared my testimony before, and have shared it in 3 minutes before, and it has never been an issue. Bada bing bada boom, tell your story and your done.
That night though I was gripped by an overwhelming sense of thankfulness and love though and a deeper revelation of Who it is Who called me out of darkness.
You see, according to everything in the natural and probably the dark side of the spiritual, I am not even supposed to be alive.
I was conceived out of wed lock, my mom's boyfriend left her when he found out she was pregnant, so she moved from Ontario back home to Brandon. This is where she was confronted with the choice to keep me or abort me. My mom had people who were close to her try to convince her to abort me because no man would marry a single woman who had a child out of wedlock. To spite them and because she felt abortion was wrong, she decided to go through with the pregnancy.
That battle of life wasn't finished though. During the pregnancy my mom found out that she has a blood disorder that made giving birth very high risk and there was a very high chance that both she and I wouldn't make it through labour. The doctors were convinced that even if my mom made it I for sure wouldn't. We both lived, much to the surprise of the nurses who had been tending to my mom. They had to come and see this miracle baby that survived when it shouldn't have.
Despite the predictions of the people around my mom that said no man would marry her because she had a child (and this thinking was in 1979 just on the final wake of the hippy movement) she did marry when I was two and that man adopted me.
Life as a family wasn't the easiest, and there was some abuse on both sides and when I was in grade five my mom decided to leave my dad and get a divorce. I had so much anger in me at that point that I was fine with that. I had completely cut myself off from my dad by the time I was in grade 6.
Now to back track a bit, that was all the things that had been going on in the natural, the spiritual side of things was just as dark. I was not raised as a Christian, but I had an awareness of spiritual things since an early age I had nightmares pretty much every night, from the time I was in kindergarten until I was in grade 7. I would see things in my room and around my house, even at times in the neighborhood I lived in. I know have the understanding to know that those things and the nightmares were demonic. I had no understanding of it back then.
My mom would send me to Sunday school sometimes so I had heard about Jesus, knew the Christmas story, the Easter story, the Creation story. But that is all they were, stories. I liked them because they seemed so much lighter then everything else I experienced but they were just stories. Also, when I was 8 years old my mom started sending me to church camp each summer, which I loved even though I just went through the motions of singing songs and praying prayers. I just did it because that is what you did at camp.
When I was in grade 7 I moved to a new school and had a hard time making friends but got connected with a girl I had gone to school with for a couple of years in elementary school. We very quickly got involved in some occult practices and things got even more oppressive and dark for me but there was a draw to that stuff as well.
By the time that summer came around, that girl and her mom moved away from my neighborhood and I had the strong feeling that if something didn't change I was going to die and I knew that it wouldn't be good. I didn't know if the death would be natural or just spiritual but it felt horrible and it terrified me.
When I went to camp that summer I told a friend of mine what I had been involved with. He straight up told me that it was wrong, I needed to repent and break my agreement with all that stuff and ask Jesus to be my Savior. We found the camp Chaplin and went to the Chapel. There she took me through prayers of repentance, deliverance, renouncement. I asked Jesus to forgive me and I said that I would submit my life to Him as He is my Lord and Savior. Other than knowing that I really meant what I said and feeling a bit lighter it didn't seem very impacting.
That night though, Jesus met me in a dream. At first I thought it was another nightmare because of all the horrible images I was seeing and I tried to wake up but I couldn't. Just when I didn't think I could take it any more there was a flash of bright light and all the other images fled and all I could see was this light and an image of a Man who had such love, and compassion and strength in His eyes. I felt washed and clean I felt free, I felt accepted. I knew He had done everything to make me feel like that. I felt the most love I had ever felt in my life. It was overwhelming, more overwhelming then the darkness had been, but oh so good.
Now, my story doesn't end with a happily ever after, there have been trials and ups and downs since that day. I have been learning since that day what it means to love Jesus with my whole, heart, mind and strength. To fully give my life to Him, to die daily and pick up my cross. I fall and fail and He picks me up. I wander off course and He brings me back. He is my Love, my Deliverer, my Salvation, my Strength, my Lord, my King, my Bridegroom and Judge. He brought me from death to life. He gave me a hope and a future. He has given me a destiny. I do not take those words lightly.
OH! And remember how I said that what when my parents divorced I cut myself off from my dad because I was so angry with him? Well, it has been a bit of a bumpy road of healing and forgiveness but God has been teaching me the power of reconciliation because over the last few years He has restored that relationship. It is still sometimes hard, but it has been another picture of the Father's extravagant love for me.
When I really look at the lengths He went to buy back my soul from darkness and to have me as His own it overwhelms me. I really honestly was on the road to Hell and could not get off it in my own strength. He had to do it. He has done all the work. I just have to say yes to Him each day. There is a quote that I have heard often lately and it rings true. It states,"Beloved does Jesus love you? Does He love you? Just look at the cross, that is all the proof you need."
Finally, a chorus of a song that has been in my heart lately and is really the right response for all Jesus is and for all He has done, it is what I want to leave you with. If you have made it this far good for you! Thanks for sticking with me!
"Praise to the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead! Oh praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead!"