Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Laura's Testimony

I was raised in the church. We went as a family every Sunday. We played church volleyball, attended Sunday School, went on mission trips, attended Vacation Bible School, the works. I even met my future husband in Youth Group. It was all I ever knew and I thought I was good with God. I thought I knew what I needed to know. Looking back, I now realize that I never really had a relationship with God I was just following along like I was supposed to. And then one day, it all fell apart.


I can vividly remember waking up to the sound of the doorbell, wondering who would be ringing the doorbell so early on a Sunday morning, only to look out the window and see the Sheriff car. Most of the next few days were like a fog, but there are very vivid memories as well: the memory of telling my six year old niece and four year old nephew that their mommy was in Heaven; the memory of standing arm and arm with my brothers next to my sister’s casket saying goodbye; the memory of seeing all the men in my life weeping for my sister; and especially the memory of making snow angels in the fresh snow where she was buried that same night with my niece and nephew.

I went to church very rarely for years after my sister died. I was angry at God. I couldn’t accept that a loving God would take my sister away from me so early, would take her away from her babies so early. They needed her…I needed her. My sister wasn’t there for my wedding or the birth of my babies. Every time something good in my life happens, it’s always mixed with a longing to share the joy with her.

Less than a year after my sister died, I married my high school sweetheart who I met in Youth Group and had dated for three years. Four years later we had a son and about three years later we had a daughter. Soon after our daughter was born we finally made it back to church regularly, but it was somewhat forced on both of our parts. We both wanted our children to be raised in the church as we were so we made ourselves go. I found a home at my church and a church family who welcomed us in. We became active in that church and even attended a Young Adult group as a couple. I attended an Emmaus Walk to work on building my relationship with God. And even after all this, I still didn’t really have the relationship with God that he wanted to have with me.

Our church changed pastors, our small group fizzled out...I was left very hungry and empty. I felt that my husband didn’t want to go to church, didn’t want anything to do with church activities…I was left very angry. My husband and I began to live very separate lives at home…I was left very lonely and tired. I was craving, seeking anything to fill my soul of the void. But what I found and what I filled myself with was not what fit that void and it never truly satisfied me but only pulled me down lower and lower until I didn’t know how I was going to pull myself out. My marriage had fallen apart. This wasn’t the life I had planned. I went to church and knew God, how did this happen?

God sent a few angels into my life when they were desperately needed…not to point me in the right direction, but to open my eyes to the direction that was already there but I couldn’t see. The day my dissolution was filed, an angel convinced me to watch Courageous when all I wanted to do was numb the pain. That movie opened my eyes and I finally opened my bible once again. A few weeks later, I became consumed with the despair Paul depicted in Romans 7. I knew that was exactly where I was, but I couldn’t figure out how to pick myself up.

That’s when another angel appeared and offered to study Romans with me verse by verse because she happened to be reading Romans as well. That angel also shared these life changing words with me, “Laura, there’s a gaping hole in your soul. It’s a God shaped hole and only God is going to fit into that hole.” (I wish I would have saved that email, because that’s not exactly how she said it, but very close-it was good stuff!) That same angel also shared with me the wonderful words of Pastor Steven Furtick at Elevation Church. His Romans 8 sermon series ‘Christ Alone’ changed my life. That series was the solution I was looking for from the despair I was in.




Since these angels have come into my life, I’ve learned a lot and God has revealed a lot to me. God revealed to me that while I was waiting on everyone else to fill me, I should have been filling myself with His Word. That was an eye opener for me. I always just relied on church every Sunday to fill me. And I was always frustrated with feeling empty again by Tuesday. I was always so angry that my small church didn’t offer more throughout the week so that I could refill myself. What I was missing was that church on Sunday is only part of what I need to be doing to build my relationship with God.

Another lesson I have learned was obedience. When your gut tells you something is wrong or when it tells you that you need to do something, you need to listen. Thank God I was finally obedient when that angel asked me to watch Courageous. I could have just taken the easy way out once again and numbed the pain and continued down the wrong path. I was finally obedient, and my obedience began the domino effect of God’s Favor.

I was asked to write about “how I got so faithful” and “how did I get over what I had been through”.  Well, Romans 8:1 is how I got over what I have been through.  “Therefore, there is NOW no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  God doesn’t condemn me for my sins because Jesus died for my sins.  Romans 8:1 tells me that if I live in Christ Jesus, there is no reason for me to condemn myself.  Romans 8:1 tells me to forgive myself for what I’ve done wrong.  Additionally, the bitterness and anger I was harboring as a result of my sister’s death, I turned it all over to Christ.  I laid it all down on Him and began to focus on the good IN ALL things.  (Romans 8:28)  That doesn’t mean that I don’t miss her or long for her, but it does mean that I no longer allow the anger to consume me and rule over me.



How did I get so faithful? Once I began to fill myself and not rely on others to do it for me and began to turn to God I could see God’s Favor in every aspect of my life. The domino effect of one act of obedience is endless. Even more so, when I mess up, I don’t see God’s Favor in every aspect of my life. That domino effect stops in its tracks. The loss of God’s Favor grieves me so deeply that I desire to be obedient to God’s plan.

In His Love,
Laura


18 comments:

  1. I have felt the same way. I thought I was good with god because I loved him.I grew up knowing it was what I should do. Only in the last 3 years have I learned that it's not just knowing him its coming to him through his word, my faith, and understanding who he really is and why I needed him to save me. These past few months have been trying and I would be lying if I said I did not question God as to why? I was living in fear and worry. I realized this was a time I needed to stop and realize God is in control and I believe he is working good for us. Today I feel god so much today because today is a big day for us and in my time of need who else better then god to hold on too.

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    1. "Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."
      Romans 5: 3-4

      Take delight in your difficult times...knowing that it is necessary for difficult times to build hope!

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  2. I love the old hymn, "Trust and Obey" because it says that the only way to be "happy in Jesus" is to "trust and obey." I too lived the go-to-church-every-Sunday-life, but missed the part about applying what I learned. I didn't know what it meant to "trust the Lord" with or without all my heart, but rather learned self-reliance. Being self-reliant means I set the standards for my life, and they weren't very good standards. God's standards (commandments, rules) seemed backwards (even stupid), but once I began to accept them as my standards, I became "happy in Jesus."

    I'm glad the Lord sent Angels to set you back on His Path.

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    1. I Love that hymn as well! Being self-reliant sure is scary....relying on our sinful flesh to guide us is a sure fire way to disaster. And yes, when you are self-reliant, God's standards do seem backwards and stupid. But once you truly accept His standards and strive to live by them, he will freely give you a peace that surpasses human understanding. And yes, I thank God every single day for those Angels and their continued encouragment!!!!

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  3. Laura,
    Thanking you for sharing this. I enjoyed reading this. Glad you are being filled by the lord!!
    Love you!!
    Kristen Evans

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    1. Love you too Kristen! Thanks for visiting the blog. Hope you continue to follow along with Falen and I.

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  4. What a great testimony! I appreciate that you shared. Romans 8:1 is something that I often need to remind myself of!

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  5. what a wonderfully hopeful post to anyone seeking God's grace and mercy--God bless you

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    1. God's grace is freely given to all who Believe in Him!

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  6. I am so proud of the person you have grown to be, and Jennifer would be very proud of you too! I am so thankful for the Angels that God sent into your life! You are very brave and perserverant, I pray that this blog brings you daily encouragement! I love you!

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    1. Thanks Angela! Your kind words hit deeper than you know!

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  7. Very beautiful. We all struggle and search and fail and go through all kinds of things before we just give up and turn to God. It seems like we're giving up, but on our knees is where God can finally penetrate our hearts. I love hearing how God changes lives! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thank you<3 Without fully knowing despair, we can not fully appreciate Grace!

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  8. Very beautiful. We all struggle and search and fail and go through all kinds of things before we just give up and turn to God. It seems like we're giving up, but on our knees is where God can finally penetrate our hearts. I love hearing how God changes lives! Thanks for sharing!

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  9. I went through the same thing as you.
    I had that terrible, dark, empty hole in my heart that hurt so badly I thought I would die.
    My brother died when he was 22 years old. That was the one thing that sent me over the edge. I searched and searched until I, like you realized that the chasm in my heart was for God only.
    That is when I read Romans 8:28.
    Only then did anything begin to make sense.
    Then, slowly I realized that God is in control and I just have to trust Him.
    He begin to put my life back together like He wanted.
    Even 30 something years later He is still putting it together like He wants.
    Thanks for sharing because it gives so many strength. You are an angel to someone in the dark.
    Blessings
    http://thepeacethatpassesallunderstanding.blogspot.com/

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    1. Only God can fill some spaces! Aren't you just blown away by Romans?! You should definitely listen to the Christ Alone series by Steven Furtick of Elevation Church (linked above). The whole series is about Romans:) Thx for reading Sheila!

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  10. First of all, thank you.
    Thank you for investing in children through childrens ministers by blogging about your experiences on Up Ward Not Inward, and sharing your learnings openly.

    Please know how incredible this is. And be encouraged to keep going.

    I hope and pray that even more childrens ministers will be inspired, find solutions to their struggles, will be encouraged not to stop serving, and be inspired to grow their gifts.

    We recognize that these are incredible times to live in, where technology allows childrens ministers around the world to encourage each other. As for ourselves, we use technology to reach out to children globally as well.

    We’re developing the world’s first videogame that takes kids through the Bible from beginning to end. Our hope is to increase the love for God’s Word amongst kids.

    We dream to see fathers and sons going through the Bible together, having fun as they become part of David’s army, spend time in the fish as Jonah, and play level after level, leading up to Jesus’ death and resurrection.

    In order to steward this immense project well, we’re building relationships with childrens ministers like you. You know the kids in your community. We like to ask your input by allowing you to look behind the scenes, have your kids/families play demo game levels before they go public, etc. You may also recommend a few people you think would be of interest.

    Additionally, we can provide you with plenty of interesting “blog-food” (concept art, images, etc) if you feel that this could benefit your subscribers.

    If you’d like more information, shoot me a quick reply to the email address below.

    Ruben
    connect (at) tornadotwins (dot) com

    ReplyDelete

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