Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Testimony Tuesday

Tim Challies has declared today to be Testimony Tuesday for the Christian blogosphere, and I thought I would join the club and post my testimony. This is actually a revised version of a post I made on my Xanga over a year ago.

I was born in Shady Grove Hospital early on the morning of July 10, 1989, joining such illustrious alumni of that day as John Calvin and Jessica Simpson (no kidding, and those are the only two famous people born on my birthday. what a boring day...never mind). I was raised in a loving, Christian home, went to one of the most wonderful churches on earth, etc., but it didn't make any difference to me. From the beginning I was a rebel. I am still remembered by relatives and my parent's friends as never sitting through an entire dinner without being spanked several times and then being sent to my room (I didn't eat Thanksgiving dinner until I was seven).

When I reached grade school, I went to a small private school, where I quickly became well acquainted with the principal because I was in his office at least once a day during kindergarten and first grade. Some people still think that I should have won a special award for "Most Trips to the Principal's Office in the Space of One Year." Throughout all of this time I was arrogant, disrespectful, disobedient, and just plain mean. I always had a rotten attitude about everything. I was also best friends with Josh Tucker (who used to be a contributer to this blog), who lived across the lake from me (about a five minute bike-ride from my house). Two more sour, disagreeable kids it would have been hard to find. At least once a week, and normally more than that, we would declare that we never wanted to see each other again and march off for home with our noses in the air, only to see each other the next day for carpool as if nothing had happened.

I prayed the "Sinner's Prayer" many times throughout my childhood, but never really meant it. I knew all the answers, but I never applied them to myself. I enjoyed my life and my sin, and didn't really see why I needed to change. As I got older, the sin went from external to more internal. By the age of ten I was an okay kid, certainly not as visibly sinful as before, but more sinful inside. I was still disrespectful, unkind to my siblings and my friends, and concerned mainly with satisfying the desires of my flesh. As a matter of fact, I managed to drive off most of my friends or be banned from their houses during this period. It was during this period of my life that I moved to a little brick house on Georgia Ave., where I only found more ways to sin.

Then the amazing happened. One night during Christmas break, my brothers were spending the night at somebody's house and I had my room all to myself. Taking advantage of this, I grabbed my CD player and brought it up to my room to listen to Christmas music , specifically the compilation God With Us (during that time I absolutely loved the Christmas season. I loved everything about it: the music, the decorations, the movies, the presents, the family. I kind of went crazy every December with artificial Christmas spirit).

Somewhere between Out of the Grey's "O Holy Night" and Cheri Keaggy's "What Child Is This?", the Holy Spirit swept on to me, revealing what a horrendous sinner I was and that "the Babe, the Son of Mary" had come down to save me. It was nothing short of miraculous, since I was involved in some serious sin at the time and had no desire for God. Fortunately, he had a great desire for me. As he revealed the truth of the gospel to me, I realized my need for a Savior and prayed that God would cleanse me of my filthy sin and clothe me in his righteousness. As I did so, I felt an a joy like none I'd ever felt before sweep over me, almost physically lifting me off the bed. As I lay there, I must have had one of the biggest smiles ever as I relished my newfound freedom from the burden of sin I hadn't even acknowledged I had earlier that day. It was an amazing feeling, and the unexpectedness of it demonstrated how far God had to come to get me. There's no telling what God will use to bring his children to him.

After that night, things changed. My natural tendency is to keep things to myself, so I didn't share my conversion with my parents at the time, but they noticed an immediate difference in me. I was kinder, more respectful, quicker to apologize (none of this was a huge difference, but it was definitely an improvement). God was transforming my life. I began to actually bring my dad into my life (which is still an area that I need to grow in, but I've improved), confessing hidden sin. It was all evidence of God's grace in my life.

I slowly grew in godliness, becoming more involved in the church and actually began to really enjoy worship and the sermons at church. About three years ago, however, God revealed himself to me anew at the youth retreat, giving me just a glimpse of his holiness during the ministry night that struck me to my knees and set me crying uncontrollably (something that doesn't happen often, let me tell you). Since then, I have been blessed with amazingly godly friends who have helped me grow in so many ways, with amazingly relevant sermons that have challenged my faith and helped me grow, and with amazingly godly parents committed to helping me grow. My life has been just one sign of God's mercy after another, and I am so humbled that he would pour out his favor on me.


Since writing the above testimony post last year, lots of things have happened. I have encountered God in a different way than I communicated then. I think I can say that those years were my "honeymoon" period, where everything was amazing. Especially this last year I have learned to trust God through trials. The trials haven't been incredibly dramatic, but they invloved a lot of what I communicated in my post about Godspell's production week. I've been learning a lot about trusting God even when I things happen that I don't expect, or happen when I was expecting something else. I've gone through dry spells, relationship problems, and have been constantly battling sin that it feels like I should have defeated a long time ago. It seems that the lesson I've been learning this year is this: "God is good." Three simple words that have revolutionized my life. No matter what happens to me, I can rest assured that God is good, and is working things out for me.

So life as a Christian is no longer all joy and smiles and sparkles. I guess everyone has to leave that phase eventually. I'll miss it, but to use Paul's metaphor, it's time I moved past milk and got some more substantive food. I'll be heading off to college next year, entering a new phase of life, and I can honestly say that I will be so much better prepared because of all the lessons I've learned this year.

I know I've said it before, but I can't think of a better way to end this post than this:

God is so good.


Nikki said...

Hi Sam! It is so encouraging to see young guys who are on fire about the gospel! I'm only a few years older than you, but my younger sister is your age. She complains that it always seems that there are no high school guys who are passionate about Christ, and I always tell her that she's wrong. It makes me happy when I see that there are guys your age who havent decided to wait until after college to "straighten up" just so that they can get a few crazy years in. Keep up your witness! Girls like my sister need more of y'all out there!

besita said...

amen sam

Tracy said...

I wish I had a son like you! Oh yeah, I do! Thank you for sharing how wonderful God is to you. Love, Mom