So this week Ronda asked if I would write my testimony.... I can’t help but feel on Ronda’s part that there must be some intense curiosity on how 'God got through to me J'...Alot of people think I became a believer as an adult, but to tell you the truth I believed at a younger age, but I was lured away by essentially the same thing that leads a lot of us astray. One way or another...I wanted to be 'like God.' Genesis 3:5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil" (the serpent had said).
I was raised in a broken home. My father left when I was 7 years old, so it was just My Mom, my sister and me. Despite the every other week visitation with my father (and his new family), there was a definite hole that grew inside me and a lack of security that was felt the minute he walked out the door. As I grew older I started to think it was probably better that they divorced…They fought a lot. My dad would reiterate to me that he still loved my mom but 'not in that way.’
As I'm typing this tears are coming to my eyes as I look back now with the Holy spirit inside of me I can put my life into perspective in a whole new way. If a husband is to love his wife like “Christ loved the church” (Eph 5:25), right there in real world application I saw Christ abandon it. I carried this idea over into how I viewed spirituality and faith.....actually I applied it to ALL matters of my life. 'If it doesn't work with my lifestyle and it doesn’t ‘feel good’, I will just try something new'. I was a seeker, though I mostly wanted to be the god of my own life.
I was raised as a 'Holiday' Christian....every Easter and Sunday we would get all dress up nice and shiny and attend a church service, my mom even had my sister and I baptized at the ages of 12 and 10. Truthfully I know my mom meant well, but I think at the time she thought she could secure our salvation through her faith. During all this I still didn't have much of an idea of who Christ was and why he did what he did; it all just confused me. On a side note: I feel the need to mention that my mother is one of the most generous and faithful women I know. I'm sure the trials she went through with my sister and I drew her closer to God. *smile* I look up to her so much for her faith, grace, and the peace she maintains even during time of trial. Her fight with cancer was definitely a testament to her faith and it planted seeds of faith in my own heart for God. She has been cancer free for almost 10 years; praise the Lord!
When I had my VERY first 'come to Jesus moment', I was 14 years old. A friend of the family was staying with us and she was a believer. I have to say almost everyone that witnessed to me in my whole life were not your typical shiny' do good' Christian stereo types. It reminds me of one of my favorite scriptures:
2 Corinthians 12: 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
This woman didn't have everything perfect but she also never claimed to. She testified to miracles that God had done in her life, including the healing of her arthritic leg, and she considered herself a work in progress and seemed to make Jesus a bit easier to understand for me. That night I asked if she would pray with me to accept Christ. I felt the Holy Spirit wash over me; the feeling was so surreal I can’t describe it. I remembering opening the Bible and being able to read and understand it for the first time; like he was guiding me.
At the same time as my new conversion, “New Age” beliefs started to creep into my life and become very influential for me. I was by nature a people pleaser, and paired with a desire to simply follow my heart, this seemingly 'koom ba ya approach' to spirituality looked pretty sweet from the outside considering the Bible didn't promote the lifestyle I was gravitating towards. During this time I started sneaking out, dabbling in drugs and alcohol, and had an unhealthy attraction to bad boys.
In my teens and early 20’s I tried: Buddhism, Taoism, Eastern Philosophy. I played with Tarot cards and I knew just about everything there was to know about Astrology...I could tell you what your moon, rising, Mars, and Venus meant about you .I was pretty puffed up in my knowledge and Christians to me were just too narrow minded. Eventually I came to the idea that I wanted to seek truth, but Christianity was definitely NOT IT. Just an FYI, New Age= not so new.
1Timothy 4 1-2 "Now the spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, trough the insincerity of liars who's consciences are seared."
My senior year in high school I left my drug buddies behind (sadly they adopted my younger sister as my replacement which led to a drug overdose that hospitalized her at the age of 15). What a mess I had made. I'm just blessed to have the relationship with my sister I have today. It has only been made possible through God’s grace and her forgiveness. My sister Stephanie is a GIFTED artist...you can see some of her artwork at Stephanie Broker
Ok…back on track...So my senior year in high school I had my first steady boyfriend. Our relationship was comfortable but just not exciting enough for me at the time. We had different ideas of what we wanted for our future. Despite our differences, we threw caution to the wind, flew to Reno and got married (quest for excitement). It was only 3 weeks before I was in complete regret and filed for divorce. YES, those who do not know, I have been DIVORCED. Sometimes there are Christians (I have recently learned) that view this as a scarlet letter that ruins a person’s testimony. If you have ever been divorced just know that:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of Life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Romans 8: 1-4
Romans 5:20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more…
So here is where Ronda's life and mine intersect...We had gone to the same High School, but God allowed our paths to cross again in the most random of places, and we became fast friends. Our prodigal worlds overlapped....I made it clear to her off the bat that It would be fine if we were friends if she didn't push her beliefs on me...I think I even told her that I was raised a 'Christian' I just didn't believe that there could be 'one way' anymore.
About a year later I met my now husband and whoosh, John and I were married 3 months later. We were a train wreck waiting to happen.
Proverbs 27:1 says it best 'do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.'
Our heads were in the clouds and that scripture rang true. Seems like two seconds later we were pregnant, my husband lost his job and battled a pain pill addiction; one could say our lives were upside down. Here we were; me four months pregnant, both unemployed, living off of food stamps and emergency DSHS. My dreams were shattered and I surrendered…
I remember the night I called out to the Lord, I was crying and in my head I asked if Jesus was really his son, and If he was real I wanted him back in my life. Immediately I remember I felt conviction for sin I had not known was there. I know it sounds like a negative thing but I knew that it was a feeling I could not have created on my own...I felt like I needed a long extremely hot shower so it could wash the sins off my body. Finally conviction had come.
The last 7 years my family has been on an incredible journey, filled with serendipitous events that put the 'New Age' to shame. You see, the enemy definitely tries to replicate what God does BEST. It hasn’t always been easy but God was always there, his promises and his PEACE; anxiety gone!
I praise God that my husband was delivered from addiction (his testimony is an inspiration to me), our marriage has been restored, the lifting of poverty, for THREE beautiful children, and God’s precious gift of contentment. One of my greatest joys now is when I get to see friends and family put their trust in Christ and see their lives transform!
1 Tim 1:13 Even though I used to be a blasphemer and did all I could to injure and discredit the faith. Mercy, however, was shown me, because until I became a believer I had been acting in ignorance.
On a final note God used my 18 month old son, Dash, to minister to me this morning. His face was really dirty and all I wanted to do was clean the little guy but with each wipe he fought me harder. It took a while, but he was clean. Disobedient, Dash simply wanted 'his way or the high way.’ I gently corrected him but he kept pushing back. Isn't this just like us sometimes! I think about when I cried out to the Lord, I was sooo dirty that it was more uncomfortable to stay it the state I was than allow him to peel back and wipe off the dirty layers.
Ha ha! OK this is the timing and humor of God....just as I was typing this very paragraph the top pops off my sons sippy and milk spilled ALL over his face and shirt.
...needless to say I think this was he is done being stubborn...He was more than willing to allow me to clean him up this time (not so happy about the snap shot though!).
~Note from Ronda
Shannon, Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful tender heart and testimony. I am so grateful that God allowed our paths to cross even though it was during our 'rebellious' years. God brought us through...HALLELUJAH! Prodigal daughters indeed; we are daughters who have been redeemed. Like you said yesterday in your text to me "God is GOOD", and I say...AMEN!