“The Word of their testimonies…”
February 26, 2005 § 4 Comments
Since the invite for personal testimonies went out on ASF, I decided to go into a tad more detail here. It’s long tho.
As far back as I can remember, I have had a longing to be with God. My earliest memories involve being at church, and wanting to be a good girl, because I “loved God.”
The church my parents attended was actually a New Age church called Unity. I have a lot of memories there, even tho I was only 2 or 3. Growing up, my parents moved from church to church, seeking on their own path, and meanwhile I was on one of my own. I was always “spiritual” to a degree that I think was surprising even to my own folks.
During the summers, my mom sent my brother and sister and I to Vacation Bible School at whatever church happened to be holding them each week. The summer I was 8 years old, I became aware for the first time of the “evangelical push” to get kids up there to “ask Jesus into their hearts”. I felt all week a pressing to join the circle of prayer every morning, but resisted, reasoning, “I already know Jesus, and I love Him. I don’t need to go up and pray with them to prove anything.”
So I didn’t. Until that Friday. The urging in my heart to go pray was too strong– and I ended up running up just as they were starting to pray. I joined hands, and followed the simple prayer asking Jesus to come into my heart. What happened next took me completely by surprise.
I felt a warm light start from my middle, and spread throughout to my arms and legs and fingers and toes. With this warmth came a pure joy and exhiliration unlike any I had known to that point. I was amazed and stunned by these new feelings, but the thing that took me by surprise was how CLEAN I felt. I hadn’t even know I was dirty, but here for the first time i felt clean.
I just had to tell everyone. I remember how excited I was and grabbing a little girl’s hand and asking her if she had asked Jesus into her heart. When she said yes, I gushed, “Isn’t it wonderful?” I kept telling the grown-ups how clean I felt inside and wondered why no one else seemed as impressed with this experience as I did.
Looking back, I probably was freaking the grown-ups out, now that I think about it. I was at a Baptist church. Don’t know that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is received… quite so well there. But I didn’t even know what the “baptism of the Spirit” was then– I wouldn’t learn that till many years later.
In a couple years, my family was attending an Assemblies of God church. One Sunday, I think our Sunday school teacher was telling us about baptism. I got a bee in my bonnet that I needed to be baptized– urgently. The problem was that the AG church does not believe in baptizing children. I had to convince my parents, Children’s pastor and the church elders that I NEEDED to be baptized, because I believed in Jesus, He lived in my heart, and His Word said that I had to be. Apparently I convinced them, because one night, along with a bunch of grown-ups, 10 year old me was dunked as the youngest person in that church to be baptized.
I guess I’ve always had zeal.
All through my pre-teen and teen years, I was very interested in spirituality– Christianity first and foremost, but also I had a growing interest in the occult and New Age philosophies. I remember trying to hold seances in my room, and reading lots of books on mythology and paganism and spiritualism. My parents would let me go to church with any of my friends, and so I had experiences in many denominations, including the Latter Day Saints. If it had to do with God or the spiritual realm, I wanted to know all about it. But even with this wide palette, something inside me always seemed to direct me in a particular direction.
In high school, I was a prima donna class “A” zealot. There is no other word for it. Someone once referred to me as Diamond “The Republican” Took*. (*not my real name…;) ) I got into many heated discussions and debates, but I meant well.
Right out of high school, I starting “hanging with the wrong crowd”. It’s exactly what it sounded like. For six months, goody-twoshoes me was a “rebel”. I smoked (cigaretts and pot) and really got into rune stones, psychics and exploring the “dark” interests I had always had, but had checked and kept at bay.
I *literally* nearly went insane in that time. I seriously wanted to be hospitalized. I had reached a point of questioning God’s existance, and His relevancy, and *if* He was there, whether He even cared about me.
One night, I was casting rune stones with my only friend at that point (I had gotten so erratic and crazy, that I had alienated myself from all of my friends but this one girl) and I cast a five rune spread. I don’t remember the first four stones, but I will never forget the fifth. It was the Divine stone. The stone that reperesented God or the Universe or the Higher Power. As soon as I saw it, I felt this jolt in my stomach. I played it off tho. I said “‘God’ is going to happen to me? Ooo, Lori! God’s gonna get me!! oooo!” I laughed, but felt really… weird.
In the next two weeks, everything that was in that spread happened. Then the fifth and final stone… I went to a going away party for a pastor from my church when I was a teenager. It was the first time I had been with “church folk” in 4 years. And it was shaking me. By the end of the night, I was hanging onto my pastor and bawling my eyes out, saying over and over again, “You don’t know what I have done, you don’t know what I have done…” I didn’t exactly tell him either.
That very night, I went home, head sore from crying. As I lay down on my pillow, I prayed “God, I don’t know what to do. Just tell me.” and the phone rang.
I kid you not.
I answered the phone and it was Lori– “Get dressed, I’m coming to get you!”
So I did. It was 1 AM and we went to Perkins Diner, which was a bit of a trek from where I lived. As I was sitting there telling Lori about my afternoon, and how I felt I needed to “find God” again but I didn’t know where to start, I was attacked from behind.
It was a friend of mine from high school that I had attended youth group with. She had warned me 6 months prior that I was heading in a bad direction, and I hadn’t spoken to her since. Here she was at 1:30 AM far away from where each of us lived, hugging me and squealing, “Come and meet my pastor!”
Ok, so to say I was incredulous would be a bit of an understatment.
What happened next was a whirlwind of “coincidences” too uncanny for words. The result was that I felt the evidence was overwhelming that not only was God there, but He cared about me deeply, and was in fact going all out to find ME, not the other way around.
Within a couple of weeks from that meeting, I was at a church retreat (the attending of which involved too many uncanny events for this small space) and finally gave up and surrendered. I realized that a lot of my “religious posturing” and “goodness” had really been pride and conceit, and that now I was ready to allow God to strip me bare and build anew.
I actually had a vision at that retreat that broke through for me. It was this two story farm house, in a wooded glade, and I could see sunlight filtering through the trees. Three workmen came up to the house with buckets rags and general implements of cleaning. They started cleaning everything inside the house, pouring bleach on the floors and just cleaning. But then, they started busting open the walls, and pulled all kindsof muck and disgusting things, rats nests, trash and so forth. They were cleaning the house from the inside out. Then I felt God speak to my heart and tell me that I was the house, and that this was what He was going to do to me. At that point, fo rthe first timein my life, I rushed to the altar and fell to my knees, weeping and praising God, thanking Him over and over again, for Hids grace love and mercy.
Since that time, I have only grown deeper and closer in my walk. When I began hitting brick walls in my growing faith, I learned about my mental illness (bi-polar disorder) and a lot of things growing up kinda started to make sense. Now that I’m medicated, I am moving forward again, and learning how to better express my faith– without antagonizing people! Who knew!
I know that my life is in His hands. And my only desire is to show His love and mercy to as many people as He brings across my path. Something I have much to grow in…