Life, Loss, and God's Purpose—My Testimony
In the spring of 2018, our pastor approached me about sharing my testimony during the service. Now, to me, the word testimony was Christianese for share the exact moment (including the date and time) when you were moved to accept Jesus as your personal Savior. Testimonies included church camp moments, men and women brought to their knees by devastation on a cold, hard floor where they wept as they prayed, or some other form of an “aha” moment. None of which I could tell. Google’s dictionary agreed, defining testimony as, “a public recounting of a religious conversion or experience.” Well, I can’t remember the exact date, and my moment doesn’t include time stopping as I participated in a surreal experience.
Have I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior? Have I confessed my miserable role as a sinner and my desperate need for salvation? Have I believed and rejoiced in Christ’s resurrection? Have I changed because the Holy Spirit now lives within me? Yes, but my story didn’t seem to be worthy of a testimony, at least not the kind described in this definition.
But let’s look at another definition of testimony (again from Google dictionary): “evidence or proof provided by the existence or appearance of something.” Now, that definition? That I can handle. Each day I find proof of the Lord working in my life because the existence of His grace, mercy, love, forgiveness, wisdom, and guidance. So, yes, let me share my testimony. Let me share the evidence and proof of the existence of the Lord in my life.
I’ve gone to church for as long as I can remember. Sometimes, twice in one weekend. Saturday night mass with my mom at the Catholic church and Sunday morning with my dad at the Lutheran church. I guess you could say we were a house divided when it came to religion. My dual-religion family made church an important part of our lives. I attended a Lutheran school where we had memory verses each week, chapel on Wednesdays, and confirmation class during school when we were in seventh and eighth grades.
I’ve always believed in God and that His son, Jesus, died on the cross to save us from sin. It wasn’t until after meeting my husband, talking about the reality of faith and significance of a relationship with the Lord, and attending a church service at his home church, that I realized that Jesus died for ME. Not all of us in general, but for ME. He wanted a personal relationship with ME. He wanted to be involved in every part of MY life.
Religion turned into a relationship.
I made slow progress but progress nonetheless. God pursued my heart, and I slowly surrendered each piece of my life to Him. And, really, I’m continuing to surrender to this day, discovering new pieces that I still try to hold onto.
It’s a pretty ordinary story, not the religious conversion or experience I thought a testimony should be. But God is teaching me that He wants even our ordinary stories because He can use them in extraordinary ways.
As I worked to put my testimony together, I also realized that it is not just a once in a lifetime experience. A true testimony isn’t completed until the day that we are called to live with our Lord for all eternity. And, so, I must also share a significant way God has been working in my life since I began this journey with Him.
Romans 8:28 reads, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NIV). On October 5, 2007, my little sister died in a car accident. She was 13 years old. I remember praying on the way to the hospital, Lord if it’s your will, save her. If not, help me trust in Your will. It was the hardest prayer I have ever whispered, but I felt the surrender deep in my heart. I was in the room when her heart stopped beating.
I miss my sister. But God has given me a peace that surpasses all understanding. Not only that, but He has used Kallie’s death for a new purpose. After she died, I started writing. I wrote about all the things I would have talked to her about as she grew into a young woman. All the things about God’s word, love, and instructions that I would have shared with her, I wrote on paper. After years of writing in spare moments and allowing God to penetrate the pages, I ended up with a small devotional.
I wanted to give my words as a Christmas gift to my cousins, four of the girls were in eighth grade that year, the same age as my sister had been. I didn’t consider myself a writer and even wondered what they would think of my little gift. God saw my doubt and fear and recognized my need for a little encouragement. My husband and I had taken personal days to drive to a FedEx store in Kansas City to have my words printed. When we went to pick up the books, the manager of the store told me the printing job was free of charge. Hundreds of dollars in free printing was placed in my hands. I will never forget the gratitude, reassurance, and sense of purpose I felt as we left that store.
My sister’s death, helped me discover my passion for writing for the Lord and encouraging others with His word. Today, I continue to write in this little space where you’ve found yourself, and I am so glad you’re here. I pray that you are encouraged and find support in the words He lays on my heart.