Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Finding Myself: An Easter Story

I have been looking for an opportunity to participate with this great new blog that my Aunt Karen began. I'm excited to see how this blog is going to be used to bless a lot of people and feel privileged Aunt Karen wanted me to be a part of it.

As I was working on my personal blog, I decided that since this post involved Easter, it would be a good one to cross post and share with all of you, also.

(I've been telling my personal testimony, and this is actually Part Two. You can click here for Part One of my story if you are interested)

So, yes, my childhood testimony is my parents' story, but as time has gone on, I've seen how God has been faithful to give me my own story, a story that isn't my mom and dad's story, but Becky's story...

There are many chapters in "Becky's Story," so for this post, I'm focusing on a memory from my college years.

College was definitely a time of self-discovery. Throughout my teen years, my identity was wrapped up in being a "good" girl. I had perfect grades, I lived to please my parents and teachers, and I took pride in being a Christian. My support system was my youth group and other Christian friends. I had never even been to a "real" party.

I arrived at Washington State University one week early for orientation week. I got "oriented" all right. : ) As my parents drove away, leaving me outside the dorm, I stepped into a new and unfamiliar world. That first week was a constant party. Imagine three towers of 13 floors each, full of co-eds away from home for the first time, and no classes to go to for a week.

It was insane- booze, drugs, lots of puking. My roommate decorated her side of the room black, replaced her study lamp bulb with a black light, smoked pot laced with opium, and played Nine Inch Nails on her stereo over and over and over again.

I didn't know who to be in this new world. I didn't know who I wanted to be. I knew I didn't want to be my roommate! Ha Ha! I tried hard to find my place. Maybe this was what it meant to be "adult" and I had just been too sheltered to realize it. Maybe I was tired of being a goody-goody. Maybe I needed to live a little.

So I started living a little. I was living a double life, hanging out with my believing friends and doing some partying, too. I didn't give up on being a Christian, I just wanted to know what life was like out there.

I went to WSU for a year, tried Western Washington University for a year, and then transferred AGAIN the following year. I was a nomad. I'm thankful my parents just let me "find" myself without complaining.

I landed in a small Christian college which was a good place to land. It was refreshing and sweet to be back in a familiar world of Christian kids with similar values. I love that school. BUT I began to be troubled by the way the athletes were being treated. It seemed like they were idolized on the basketball court, and then no one knew what to do with them after that because they were "in to things" that were "sinful."

"Well, duh," I thought. They weren't there for the "quality Christian education." They were there for the FREE education.

I decided it was my mission to befriend the basketball players (didn't hurt that I had a crush on one of them...or maybe two...or three???) I was going to show them what a non-judgmental Christian was all about.

It was a noble idea, but I just got sucked into doing things that left me feeling so ashamed and not that great of a witness to these guys I wanted to share Jesus with. : )

As I drove home for Easter, I was crushed. Three years of "living a little" had left me feeling confused and ashamed and not at all ready to go to church. I felt dirty and lost and not sure who I was any more. I was supposed to be the GOOD girl!! I walked into church Easter morning and started crying. I don't think I stopped throughout that entire service.

At one point while everyone was singing, I looked up at the cross on the wall. All of a sudden, it was almost like I could see Jesus on that cross and he looked right at me, straight into my soul, and said to me, "Becky, I did this for you."

I've heard of something called godly sorrow. I had it that day in that church service. It became so clear to me. I NEEDED A SAVIOR. Me! The girl who had been a Christian her whole life. Me! The GOOD girl. All of a sudden I got it.

The Bible says that our righteousness, all the good we could possibly ever accomplish, when compared to God's holiness and His goodness is nothing but filthy rags. Even when I was good, I still needed His forgiveness. And sitting there in that church, stripped of all my spiritual pride to lean on, I knew I had His forgiveness.

My identity wasn't in how good I could be. My relationship with Jesus, my eternal destination, none of it was dependent on how good I could be either. I couldn't earn it if I tried. It was just a gift. And that day I was so grateful for that gift I thought my heart would burst. I felt forgiven, I felt free, I couldn't sing loud enough or long enough. And Easter has been my favorite holiday ever since.

I walked out of church feeling clean and light and all of the burdens gone. I had discovered myself. I was His!

And all the "living" I had been doing didn't hold a candle to the abundant life of being sold out to Him. I didn't leave ready to be perfect or to "get my act together." I went back to college that week ready to just be His - period.

We all need Him. No matter how "good" we are, we aren't good enough. No matter how "bad" we are, we aren't outside the reach of his grace. He loves you.

And so do I! : )

Part 3: Prepare The Way For the Lord!

A blood covenant. A star and a promise. A child. A man. Teacher. Healer. Miracle worker. Friend. Master. Servant. The Lord to come would be all these things, and more.

The Son of Man was born in lowly circumstances; a manger among the livestock in a little village called Bethlehem. The first to know of Him were the simplest and poorest among men; shepherds who tended the temple's sacrificial lambs.

At a tender age, the age determined by Jewish tradition that a boy be presented to the Lord for consecration (Exodus 13), Jesus is recognized as the long-awaited
Méleḫ ha-Mašíaḥ, the "Annointed King" Who would bring peace to Israel. Two elderly servants of God, Simeon and Anna, acknowledged His presence and praised God for bringing Israel's Redeemer during their lifetimes (Luke 2:22-38). And at the age of twelve during the Feast of the Passover, after three days of searching, Jesus' parents found Him in the temple speaking to teachers of the Law on matters that even the most seasoned would marvel, and giving answers with wisdom that overshadowed their own (Luke 2:41-51). "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." (Luke 21:52)

Little is spoken of Jesus' youth and His maturing into a man. But it is believed that at the approximate age of thirty years He began His ministry and preaching the way to salvation. Prior to this, God had also raised another man, John the Baptist, who was called to prepare the world for the Christ's entry. Upon being questioned by the suspicious temple Priests, John replied he was not the Christ or an incarnation of Elijah. Rather, he recited the words God gave the prophet Isaiah in his response: "A voice of one calling: In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God." (Isaiah 40:3) And as John baptized with water, he immediately acknowledged Jesus as the Christ when he saw Him approaching. "Look, the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29). He watched as the Holy Spirit came "down from heaven as a dove and remain[ed] on Him" (v32) and knew his work was finished, for One greater than he was at last upon them.

As Jesus gathered His disciples and traveled all of Judea to preach His message to the Jews, He was met with a mixture of emotions. Wary trust. Disbelief. Greed. Jealousy. Anger. Fear. His teachings didn't meet with the beliefs to which the people adhered. They believed the Christ would be a conqueror, one who would drive oppressive Rome from their land and seat Himself as King to rule over them. His parables confused them. His miracles were taken for granted (Matthew 16:2-4; 8-10). He was accused of being a drunk, a glutton, of associating with sinners (Matthew 11:19) and of being "Beelzebub", or Satan (Mark 3:20-30) His own disciples were confused and unable to grasp the fullness of His message. And as Jesus moved closer to the fulfillment of God's plan, these emotions grew until hatred consumed Judea's rulers, priests and teachers of the Law, and betrayal for a few silver coins set the stage
for the beginning of the end.

I have been truly blessed by taking this walk again, by recalling from the beginning God's divine plan of salvation. I pray the words the Lord has given me have also blessed you and that as we move onto the finality, the glorious finish, it will inspire you to spread the Good News to a lost and dying world in need of a Savior.