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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Part Two: True. Tearless. Testimony.

Last week, I posted the beginning of my testimony about how God changed my life last summer. I promised to continue my story this week and I will, but the little Beast returned last night from his first ever weekend away from home, so we're spending every waking minute catching up on our cuddles and quality time. We really missed one another. Anyway, here is a somewhat condensed version of the "conclusion" to the life-changing evidence of God's presence in my life.

On my way out of church after that powerful moment of prayer with the missionary preacher, a greeter at the door handed me a flier. It was an an advertisement for an upcoming event at the church. Their very first women’s seminar. Now you may remember from my previous post that I had been frantically searching for a women’s retreat online for weeks. All of the seminars and retreats I’d found were expensive and out-of-town, impossible for me to get to in the final stages of my pregnancy or first days with a newborn baby. Yet, suddenly, a women’s seminar was coming to my own town? At the very church I’d only just started to attend that day? And better yet, it was free? Do you have any doubt that this was God once again shouting at me that He was there, listening and answering my cries for help?!

The seminar took place just one month after little Beauty was born. I was hesitant to leave her for the day when she was so new, but I knew that God wanted me to be at that seminar. It was titled "Come Away My Beloved" after the title of a classic devotional text by Francis J. Roberts. It was billed as "A Time of Respite, Worship, Prayer and Fellowship," featuring beautiful worship music, Scripture, Excerpts from Roberts' text, prayer and devotional activities. It was a profound experience, and I grew exponentially in my relationship with God that day.

I want to tell you about the single most powerful moment of the day, a culmination of all the times that summer when God's hand was blatantly visible in my life. The seminar focused on learning to connect with God by paying attention for his cues, and listening to his voice. During the first break for private prayer and journaling, I wrote these exact words:

I want to listen to your voice but how do I know when I'm hearing it? I feel you working in my life and on my heart. I know you are answering my prayers and I am AMAZED at your power and your loving kindness. But I'm not always sure when it's YOU speaking to me. Is your voice my inner voice? Is that the Holy Spirit or my own conscience? Or does your voice come from outside? Do you speak to me through music, other people, sermons? I know you obviously speak to me through Your Word. But is your voice ever something I hear inside myself? Or is that "leaning on my own understanding"? Help me to recognize your voice God.

When we reconvened moments later, the seminar leader opened with the following passage from Come Away My Beloved by Frances J. Roberts (pg. 176):

"...when I come to you, I come via the very citadel of your soul - not as an intruder from the outside. It is as though a guest came to a home and entered the inner sanctum, rather than coming by way of the outer gate... I come to you via my Holy Spirit from the depths of your being that you have never plumbed, from chambers within your soul your eyes have never seen."

As she was reading, my body went hot all over. I was short of breath and overcome with tears. I should not have been surprised because God had been visibly working in my life for weeks, but this was an undeniable, direct, ANSWER to questions I had written down JUST MOMENTS BEFORE!!! I could not believe it.

Since that day, I have been a different person. The depression, anxiety, restlessness and fear are gone, replaced with serenity, contentment, trust and joy. I am still a work in progress, and I fail God more often than I please Him, I know. I lose patience daily with my husband and children. I curse other drivers on the road. Some Sundays, I choose to clean house instead of attend church. But I have a purpose, and that is to do God’s will on this Earth, and to be a reflection of His love to my fellow man. I am no longer stumbling blindly through my days, or living life accidentally and reactively. I have a plan, and that fills me with immeasurable, unshakable peace.

For those of you seeking peace, let me recap for you how I found it, though I am sure the path to contentment in Christ is different for each of us. Here are the steps that were necessary for my personal experience though.

1. Pray, and mean it. Pray desperately, fervently, pleadingly, honestly and not out of habit or rote.
2. Read the Scriptures. Everyday. With focus and critical thought, not just absently or shallowly.
3. Worship. Attend church, sing along to worship music, listen attentively to sermons.
4. Connect with others who share your attitude of improvement for support and encouragement. Share your story with others, it will help remind you of the power of the experience.

Thank you for taking the time to read my lengthy and serious post. I hope that you can take something from it that helps you in your relationship with Jesus Christ.

Oh, and while you're here, be sure to enter my current Play that Funky Music Giveaway!

Tuesday's Tribute
A Jay and Deb Production.


Rachel said...

Isn't it just amazing that God takes the time to answer us in perfectly personal ways? That He hears us and is ready for us, no matter where we are calling from? No matter how far away we've pushed Him?

He is so tender in His response to our yearning to understand and experience. And even to our fear.

What a beautiful post - thank you for sharing so personally.

BlogBaby said...

Wow that's a powerful testimony!

I can feel your joy through your words and am so genuinely joyful for you and the honest relationship you've cultivated with our Lord.

Thank you so so much for sharing. I am truly grateful.


beausarmywife4life said...

That is awsome!! Im jeleous...I especially struggle with #2. I kid you not..the last time I opened the Bible, praying for answers, I got chapter after chapter of "and soandso begot soandso" . Very frusterating. Something like that seems to happend everytime. I need prayers like a seed needs rain.

Mr. Daddy said...

gr8 post....
and there is nothing gender specific in it we all need that in our lives...
thanks for sharing...

Alexia said...

I'm always amazed at how God works in people's lives. I never seem to really realize how much he's done until I look back at the road I've already traveled.

Thanks for sharing :)

Sally's World said...

this is a great post, very moving...

Elaine at Matters of the Heart) said...

What a beautiful testimony. Thank you for sharing this. God is so mighty, I do not know how people can live without him.

Sassypants Wifey said...

Great GREAT post!

Halftime Lessons said...

Always great to see someone so happy about what their religion brings them. Im happy for you. ;-)


shopannies said...

HOw great for you to be able to share such a testimony