7.21.2008

My Testimony to the Love of Christ Jesus

So here it is folks. The brand new me....saved....born again in Christ Jesus and ready to share with you my story:

My Testimony to Christ’s Love for Me
By Michelle Sybert
I want to share with all those around me, the amazing thing God has done for me! It began in February when my friend, Alicia told me that she had become a Christian. I immediately began to question my own salvation. Was I a Christian? How did I know? Was just saying a "prayer" when I was 5 or 6 years old enough? If I said that I loved God, how was I demonstrating that love to Him and to others? How was I being obedient to Him now and how had I done so in the past? I think in my heart of hearts that when she told me about her salvation and the transformation that has taken place, I knew that in fact I wasn't a Christian. But, instead of making the decision right then to turn my life over to God, I just pushed it back, not really willing to talk a cold hard look at the choices that I had made and was continuing to make. I called Alicia a little over two weeks ago, confiding in her that I wrote on my blog about “seizing the summer” for God, and I had yet to truly do so. (Looking back, I can see that I didn't really want to seize the summer, I was searching for a way to prove to myself that I was indeed a Christian. I guess I thought being a Christian (and demonstrating the fruit of it) was more about how much I desired Him and not about how I put that desire into action.) So, she suggested doing something simple like going through the Proverbs. She said she was willing to go through them with me and to talk to me every single day if that meant that would keep me on track. I was blown away by that selfless act.) We hadn't seen each other in months and we talked of getting together to just have fun without the kids. We agreed that Barnes and Noble was a place that was open late and we could peruse books, magazines, etc, and talk until at least 11pm. We also agreed it would be a great time to go over the Proverbs we had read that day. As we were chatting, she said. "You know, I've never really heard how you came to Christ." And I was dreading in my heart having to give an answer because I knew...I knew there was no substance behind my "decision". I began to talk about accepting "Jesus into my heart” when I was 5 or 6 years old. I remember saying a prayer, but I don't remember actually repenting of any sins or really needing repentance. I then talked about how when I was in Jr. High at a summer camp we heard a sermon on how horrific and brutal Christ’s crucifixion was. I was moved to "rededicate" my life to the Lord. Then, post college, I again made another rededication after coming face to face with my very public sins at the time. I repented from those sins, but never examined the root cause of them, another sin-the underlying distrust of God, never having given Him my whole life, that is 100% surrender. Alicia asked me assuming I had made the decision when I was 5 or 6, what did my life look like between then and Jr. High. I couldn't give an answer. I could have said I went to church, I was a good person, I didn't commit any "really bad" sins....but that wasn't what she was asking. I realized that there was no "fruit". No life change. No turning from sin and running towards God. I said a prayer because I wanted God, but I wasn't willing to change for Him. I never truly repented, never gave Him 100% of my life.
I professed to be a Christian, but I was like the seed that is planted and grows really fast and dies. In Jr. High, at an age of increasing knowledge and comprehension about God, I still didn't repent of anything. I was just grateful to Christ for the sacrifice, not understanding that I needed it, because I was a sinner. And honestly, how could I have rededicated something I never had in the first place? Let me pause in my story to say something important: My life has been filled with all things Christian-Christian upbringing, going to church, surrounding myself with Christian friends, reading the Bible and even memorizing bible verses and I believe I was searching and seeking God-but I was not seeking Him with a truly repentant heart. I wanted to find Him-to know Him-but only on my terms-only in as much as He wasn't going to require anything other than what I was willing to give. This is where it becomes evident to me that I thought the more I pursued Him, the more Christian or believing I was. And I wasn't really willing to let go of that experience where my teacher shared Christ with me when I was 5 years old. I wanted to old onto that because it was the basis for my salvation. But after taking a cold hard look at my life, I could see that if that decision had meant anything to me-my life would have changed and you would have been able to see it. Going back to my story, I realized when I was sharing with Alicia, that from Jr. High to post college- I did all the right things-the outward ones and because I was pursuing God even a little, and having knowledge (but no understanding) I was able to put on an incredible show (most all to myself)- masking my lack of true faith (true faith being demonstrated by true obedience). No one knew but me. Over the summer of my junior year of High School I was a leader on a mission trip to Guatemala. The purpose of the trip was to share Christ with youth our age at local schools that welcomed "moral teaching". I remember thinking I didn't have a testimony to give. My parents were divorced when I was young, and I was blessed with an amazing step-mom who taught me what it was to be a woman, what it was to have a good self-image. God blessed me, definitely. But there was still a lack of true faith and true obedience. That should have been an eye opener right there. I was so afraid of getting up in front of people, of them "finding me out” and my testimony revealing my true self. After I was done, I remember thinking "I hope I NEVER have to do that again." I had hoped God would never require anything like that of me again (and he never did, until now :) ). Continuing to talk to Alicia that night, she asked me a really tough question- She said "How can you account for the last few years of your life- most importantly your depression and feeling like your life was spinning out of control?" Knowing that I hadn't done it my whole life, it was no surprise to me to realize that I never gave my depression to Him, I was so thankful that pills could bring relief; Never wanting to investigate the emptiness and hopelessness inside me. I heaped a heck of a lot of blame on my situation-my husband, our finances, etc. I sure hadn't given my marriage over to Him-I said that I did, I believed that I did based on what I knew- but I hadn't put my money where my mouth was and obeyed God in submitting to Trevor on all levels. I was so prideful-believing I knew better than he did about money, our children, our intimate life and so much more. What a tragedy! I withheld intimacy from Trevor day in and day out citing my own issues. But I never made the effort to resolve those issues so I could be obedient to the Lord in that area. All in all, I recognized a lifetime of disobedience and lack of surrender and if I believed the bible when it says in 1 John "If you love me, you will obey my commands" I could see that I did not love God. Hard stuff.
So there, at a table in the little cafe, I broken down with my friend and said that I wanted it now, that I wanted to repent and turn from my sin and run towards God forsaking all others, including myself. I realized what a sinner I was and that I needed the blood of Christ to save me. So Alicia prayed with me and for me.
I immediately felt the Holy Spirit and I have seen in the week I have believed an incredible transformation in my heart. Beginning with justification and continuing with 100% surrender on a daily basis; Being open to digging out the sin in my life and getting rid of it. (Sure, I will sin again- but there will be true repentance that follows.) I have been unafraid for the Gospel, sharing with my friends and family my testimony even if it heaps anger over my hypocrisy. I am seeking Him with all my heart. I reading the word of God everyday-that doesn't make me a Christian, but it is a change I see in my life. I am a different mother-willing to train my children in righteousness and obedience consistently and by the power of the Holy Spirit instead of in my own strength. In fact that was what my life was about-doing everything in my own strength, not God's. I live for Him now, not me, not my husband or my family-for Him. I no longer say no to God. But I say yes! If His word calls me to obedience- I say yes! In other words, if He asks me to jump, I say "how high?" on the way up.

8 comments:

  1. I just read it all again, Michelle, and I'm so proud of you for making this public announcement of your new faith on your blog! I know that it's very difficult to make such declarations considering what people might think, but that's what following Christ is about - forsaking all else to do His will. Well done, friend!

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  2. Amen sister!!! Thank you so much for sharing that...again =)

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  3. Michelle,
    What a blessing it was to read your testimony! You're awsome!

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  4. Anonymous9:18 PM

    Wow! Beautiful.
    I can so relate with you.
    5 y/o prayer
    mediocre life of trying to appear Christian...
    and finally, one day, as an adult... recently, when i was 32... realizing that I was not a Christ follower. THANK YOU LORD for your salvation and cleansing my sins. (past and future)

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  5. Thank you for sharing. It is amazing how God finds a way to touch our hearts. I esp love the last line.... 'how high?' Thank you.

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  6. Anonymous6:02 AM

    I can definitely see a parallel in my own life...something to think about. Thanks.

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  7. Beautiful testimony.

    I just read your cancer story as well as your testimony! AWEsome. Truly awe inspiring.

    Thank you for sharing your heart and your life.

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  8. That was very moving Michelle...thank you.

    Jamie :)

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