Sometimes I am disappointed that my "testimony" is...well...boring. I have no dramatic stories of hitting rock bottom on drugs or alcohol. I wasn't a runaway teen who got pregnant. I have no story of God scraping me off the bottom of the barrel and suddenly seeing the light. Though I celebrate these miraculous stories...it isn't my story.
I grew up in the church. For as long as I can remember, we went to church every Sunday unless we were deathly ill. I'd be sitting in the car, in the driveway, with my dad, with the engine running. Impatiently he would ask, "What on earth is your mother doing?" This was the Sunday morning routine. In Sunday school I learned all the famous Bible stories. As I grew older I was involved with youth group and choir and confirmation class. Church is where I went every Sunday and Wednesday. I was the "good girl"...or a goody two shoes as we were known as back then.
I knew that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in a manger, that he grew up in the church, that he taught and performed many miraculous signs, and he ultimately died on the cross for my sins. The only problem was, it was all "head" knowledge. I knew the truth, but it didn't set me free. I still tried as hard as I could to be good enough in God's eyes in my own strength.
Someone said to me that it is more difficult to be saved from a place of pride than from a place of desperation with nowhere to turn.
But, wait, I wasn't prideful. I wasn't haughty or arrogant or rude. No, but I didn't have a full grasp of my need for a Savior. I didn't commit heinous crimes; I did good deeds. Even in college I never "colored too far outside the lines". What I didn't realize was that perfectionism, striving, trying to be good enough, trying to be perfect, are all rooted in the same thing - pride. I somehow thought I had to earn my salvation or add to what Jesus had already done for me. It wasn't about Him, it was about me.
When we fail to realize that, through Christ, not through ourselves, that it is "finished", we only have head knowledge.
Even my view of God was askew. I could relate to Jesus smiling in my Sunday school books, beckoning the little children to come to him. But, God...I transferred my human understanding of a father onto him. My dad, though a wonderful provider, was a disciplinarian. He was a no-nonsense kind of guy who could often be critical. There weren't a whole lot of warm fuzzies so I had trouble grasping that God delighted in me. I had a healthy sense of fear of my dad and I transferred that onto God.
Jesus, however, I was smitten with. When I was 13 years old in summer camp, I wandered away from the campfire. Lying on my back and gazing at a sky filled with thousands of stars, I knew I needed His love, Jesus' love, in my life. His was the love that I had so longed for. I invited Him into my heart.
That night head knowledge began its journey toward my heart.
Fast forward to the birth of my first child. I was so looking forward to the birth of this baby. We had waited four years after being married and were ready to welcome this miracle into our family. What I didn't count on was that I would be slammed with a terrible case of post-partum depression. It was also then that my OCD anxiety rocketed off the charts. Depressed, anxious, not sleeping, not eating, in pure desperation I cried out to the Jesus of my Sunday school books.
It was at this point, I recall crying into my pillow, "Jesus, help me!" I knew I needed saving...I knew I needed a Savior.
I call this chapter in my faith, the chapter where the "rubber meets the road". That day my faith took a big step closer to my heart.
Jesus answered in a big way. I also started to believe Jesus' claim - that if you have seen me (Jesus) then you have seen my Father. God's essence is lovingkindness!
I could write a novel of the trials I've been through...further bouts with OCD/depression, secondary infertility, divorce, cancer scare, multiple surgeries...
Each time I called out to Jesus and once I knew I had God's love through the sacrificial offering of His son, I began to realize that I didn't have to keep earning God's love. Each time, my faith took steps away from my head and toward my heart.
I have come to truly appreciate the verse Hebrews 12:2:
"fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith."
My faith didn't even begin with me...it was a gift from Jesus. In Hebrew, the translation for "perfecter" means "completer" or "finisher". Jesus, as God, is the one who creates and sustains and finishes my faith.
When I depend on Jesus, He continues to guide my head knowledge to my heart.
"He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6)
I take heart that the journey to heart knowledge is a process and in the process lies the promise of completion by our Savior. My salvation was secured on the cross when Christ said, "It is finished." And my faith, which Christ began, will be finished on the day when He returns.
Like Jesus had no way of detouring around the cross (He had to go through it), we have fears to face and trials to go through. We can't detour around them; we have to go through them. The miracle is, that as we go through them our faith will take one step away from our head, and one step closer toward our heart.
Lord, I thank you so much for the gift of faith that you began in me and for your promise that you will be faithful to complete it. Help me to set aside my striving and my trying to be good enough in your eyes and to realize that God sees me as perfect through your blood that was shed on the cross. Truly it is finished. In the process of my faith being perfected, let me come to depend more and more on you. You, and you alone are my Savior. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen
ps. Update on Redeemer Christian School: For safety reasons I am hesitant to put too much information out on social media. Let me just say that we are in desperate need of financial support. Out of fear for their lives, many Christians have had to abandon their jobs. Our school's director who depended on his income and savings (along with our support) from another job to support the school, now has no financial means to support himself or the school. For now, it is up to us. We need financial help to enable him to secure a foreign work visa as well as funds to see to the ongoing expenses of the school. The children are safe, but if you would PLEASE pray for the safety of our director and the school and for a way to be made for him to secure an income, I would be so grateful. If you are able...and time is of the essence...please send a donation to keep the school afloat. I know our God is able to bring beauty from these ashes of evil, violence, and terror.
Send check or money to: Bev Rihtarchik/RCS
103 Silver Lining Lane
Cary, NC 27513
This is something tangible we CAN do to combat the evil that is rampant in our world. The orphaned and impoverished children at RCS need our help...thanks!