I don’t recall much of my life before Christ. I was four when I first met Him. My mother was a devoted believer. My dad was more of a go-through-the-motions type, believed because he had to. Every Sunday, we got dressed up – because we had to; we went to church – because we had to; when I became of age, I was told to work in the nursery – because I had to; all of us kids went to Sunday school, every week – because we had to; Dad would mingle – because he had to; and we all went to the Christian school – because we had to. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret the eight years of Christian education I received. I have roots buried in memorizing Scripture, a deeper understanding of the Old Testament, and my love of music was born when I discovered a few of the gifts God gave me.
It wasn’t until that one evening, while sitting on my mother’s lap, reading a now-beloved Bible story prior to bed and her explanation of God’s story that I started to understand what the Gospel was about. Even though this was the first time (and only time until college) that heard the Gospel, Jesus was all I wanted. God grabbed a hold of my heart and has inhabited my life since, taking me on a journey of constant surrender.
Over the next twenty years, His mercy, love, faithfulness and acceptance have infiltrated my life in ways I didn’t think possible. Then again, He’s a God of great mystery and His ways are not my ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). In looking back, I see Him in every nook and cranny of my life:
- He accepted me and called me beautiful when I struggled to fit in at school. It took a Franklin Graham conference to open my eyes to the fact that I do have a place in His plan; I just didn’t know what that plan entailed or what He would be bringing me through to get me there.
- He set my family apart and protected our minds/hearts when it came to the legalistic thinking of the church we attended and the community we lived in. He also gave us the strength to endure the trials connected with that period in our lives. There were circumstances that led my parents to make the ultimate decision to send all of their children to the public school which led to a form of shunning in our Christian community. We were told that to give your child an education that was of the world was a sin and that we would pay greatly for it.
- He loved me in spite of myself during my teenage years as verbal abuse at home worsened and the ideologies of cutting people down so they couldn’t “get ahead,” much less thrive in their giftings, shot through the roof.
- He showered me with grace when I was humbled during confirmation classes at the age of sixteen; an act I thought would prove that someone with a public education could stand up and profess their faith in Jesus without being struck dead. Jesus humbled me instead.
- He blessed me with a new church family when I went off to attend classes at South Dakota State University. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to join another church while at college or if I would let the entire idea of religion fall to the wayside. I loved singing hymns and the very few worship songs that I had learned up to that point. I used to think that if all churches were like the one I grew up in, I didn’t want to be involved. Instead, God used the people at Brookings Wesleyan Church (BWC) and those I met on campus to change that.
- He brought me into a personal relationship with Him long before college, before I even realized it, and loved me through the discoveries I made about myself and Him when my faith became my own.
- He brought me closer to Him as I chased after my love of music in became involved with the worship and college ministries at BWC. It was through Oasis that I met Rick and the rest of our pastors. God used those relationships to bring me to Minneapolis and to this new church.
I’ve learned that God will surprise you when you least expect it and He will use many different means to direct your paths…whether they be people (both non-believers and believers), a song on the radio or creation itself. Getting to Minneapolis wasn’t easy. Family stood against the decision to move, dream positions fell through, and things didn’t go according to my plans. I’m learning to trust Him, to abide in Him, to follow His lead in patience set by His example, that I am enough…that I have all that I need in Christ, and that He is jealous of His relationship with me (Exodus 34:14). Without Him, life holds no meaning.