This morning I sat down with my Bible, and God showed me these words in Luke 8:16:
No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.
It made me wonder, is my light on a stand? Do I tell people about Jesus? Do my friends and family know what He has done for me and how He has changed me?
There are not very many people in my life that I knew at my lowest point and still know today. So I think most people do not know how radically changed I am because of Christ. I’m going to share a little bit about my personal fall and redemption.
I did not grow up in a Christian home. My parents never shared God’s love with me, and they didn’t live it either. I had a few people reach out and try to share God with me, most notably my Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Snyder, who took me to church a few times, and my childhood best friend, Melanie, who also took me to church. They were planting seeds, but because of my family life, those seeds never got watered.
In middle school, I was starting to form opinions and do some thinking of my own. There was one boy at school who treated me terribly for not being saved. He was not alone in his treatment of me, but this one boy in particular was always the meanest one. He was always telling me that I was going to hell, my family was going to hell, and all the reasons why I was an awful person. I felt very attacked by him. I see now that it was a middle school boy’s misinterpretation of how he should try to share the gospel, but he was going about it the WRONG way. Out of this experience, I grew from an indifference about Christians to a bitter hatred for them.
In high school, I got more vocal. I argued for the separation of church and state, I refused to say “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, I complained to the principal about students praying at the flagpole each morning on school property. I did everything I could to hate the Christians that showed so much hate to me. My views continued as I graduated high school, joined the Army, and moved to California.
During the years when I was 18-19, I was not leading a good life. I’m very ashamed at many of the things I said and did during those years. Looking back, I can now see how I was looking for love. I thought it was the kind of love that could be found in someone’s bed, but it’s only the love of my Savior that can fill me up the way I needed. As I was sinking lower and lower, feeling worse and worse about myself, God started to show me the way.
I met a young man who treated me with respect. He opened doors for me and gave me his jacket when it was cold. When we were walking, he always moved so the he was on the side closest to the street. And the biggest thing of all was that he didn’t want to sleep with me. I was flummoxed by this. I wanted to know how everything in his life just seemed so right. One Sunday morning, I was trying to make plans with him, and he said he wanted to go to church instead. So I said I wanted to go with him.
My heart was open to what he shared because he treated me the right way. He never once made me feel like a worthless sinner, unworthy of being saved. It’s true that I was– we all are. That’s what makes God’s gift so incredible.
8 years later, I am happily married to that young man. I feel so grateful every day that God brought him into my life. But I feel even more grateful that God brought Jesus into my life. The peace and fulfillment that I feel is unparalleled.
I hope that maybe by sharing this, I am putting my light up on a stand. Sometimes I feel hesitant to share, because of my early experiences with Christians sharing their faith. I don’t ever want to be like that, pushy or full of disdain. I want people to see how I am changed, and realize that Jesus can do that for them too.