So as part of my training, I was supposed to write my testimony in a way that can be communicated in about 3 minutes. That's really hard to do, by the way, but now that its done, I'm beginning to see how very useful it is! The simple truths of the gospel (we use the basic 4 spiritual laws, if you know what that is) are included in the testimony, and therefore, you can actually share the gospel of Christ in situations where you might not have a lot of time - like chatting with someone while standing in line at the grocery store! It is also the most natural way to share with people, because you're just telling them your own experience and something that is important to you.
One of my checkpoints in training is to post my testimony online somewhere, and receive feedback from people. So, here it is below, and I really would love your feedback!
God is good. What do you think when you hear that phrase? Does your heart readily agree? Do you cringe? Do you laugh? Does anger well up inside?
I think a lot of people struggle with the idea that God is good. Some spend their whole lives wrapped up in a lie - speaking words of faith and conviction, while they harbor anger at, and fear of, God on the inside. Others go into open rebellion, cursing His name and doing all that they can to rebel against His character and Law. Still others decide to simply deny His existence, rather than deal with their disappointment with Him and hurt over what He has ordained for their lives.
I have definitely struggled with whether I really believed that God was good, cared about me, and was trustworthy. My senior year of college, especially, was a really hard time when I was dealing with a lot of doubts about God and my faith. I have believed in God since I was very young. My parents are Christians, so I grew up going to church and being taught about God, the Bible, Jesus, etc. I knew that God created me, loved me and wanted to have a relationship with me. I also knew that I had done wrong things that were against God’s good laws and standards for living, and because God is holy and perfect, those wrong things made me dirty and separated me from Him for eternity. But I was taught that God Himself, in the form of a man named Jesus, came to Earth, lived the perfect life that I couldn’t live, and then died – taking my punishment on Himself, so that the way would be clear for me to have a relationship with God. When I was nine years old, I decided that I wanted that personal relationship with God. I told Him that I needed to be clean because of my sin, that I believed that Jesus had paid my penalty and that I was trusting Him to cleanse me and rescue me from my own sin and death. I asked Him to come into my life and take control of it, deciding that I would follow and trust Him.
The thing about trusting God is that you have to do it when things are dark and scary and painful, as well as when they’re great. My senior year of college was a very dark time for me. I experienced the loss of a significant relationship in my life, and for the first time, really had to walk through the valley of grief. I was hurt and angry and afraid, and began to doubt many things about God and my faith. Was God really good? Did He even care about me? Was I expendable to Him? Was I somehow messing up my entire life? Was I going to walk away from God? I was afraid of God, and even more afraid of walking away from my faith – I had made it the foundation of my life, and now I was questioning the validity and trustworthiness of that foundation. I entered into months of depression driven by grief and fear.
I wanted so badly to believe with confidence that God is good, that He loves me intimately and cares about all of the details of my life, that He is patient and will never give up on me, but those were the very things that I was doubting, and I didn’t know how to escape those doubts. Then one day a ray of light burst through the very dark clouds in my life. I was laying in bed one morning, literally trying to work up the will to get up and do something – anything – to engage with life. All of a sudden God spoke these words into my mind: “Remember the little girl?” It really took me off guard, and for a second I had no idea what He was talking about, but then a memory rushed to my mind of someone telling me the story of a little girl who was adopted. For months her parents would find rotting and moldy food hidden all over her room, because she was so afraid that she would not be fed. Her father described how painful and frustrating it was to watch his daughter continue to live in fear, regardless of how many times he told her that she was safe now, would always have enough food and would always be loved and taken care of. It was a year before that little girl stopped hiding food and trusted the love of her father.
All of that story flashed into my mind in an instant, and then the Lord spoke again into my heart and mind, saying: “You are that little girl. You’re so scared right now, and you don’t trust Me to take care of you and do what’s best for you, but that’s okay, because I am that father too. He was hurt and frustrated that his little girl took so long to trust Him, but that had no effect on His love for her. He never stopped loving her and taking care of her, and he would wait as long as it took for her to trust His love. It’s okay that you need time and aren’t perfect in this, I’m your father. I love you, and I’ll wait for you.”
Did I instantly trust Him? No. But I had hope. I knew that He loved me. I saw that He is personal and intimate and patient. And looking back, this was an essential turning point in my relationship with the Lord. I needed to see, practically, in my life that He is faithful. I needed to know Him as the God who is incredibly personal, who cares for me with unwavering attention and concern. And it was because of walking through such a dark time in my life that I was able to see and believe His goodness and love. That is the definition of a faithful God – who takes brokenness, pain, and despair, and from that brings newness, wholeness, hope and joy. He is my foundation – one that is solid and trustworthy, and I can say with confidence, “God is so very good.”