From My Childhood to This Day

I've heard some mighty fine testimonies, haven't you? I've listened with piqued curiosity and amazement to stories of how God has snatched people out of lives of crime, alcoholism, loose living, and defiance to put them on the narrow path. And I've heard the powerful personal stories of folks who once claimed to be atheists, agnostics or simply disinterested, and how they came to believe in a big and loving God.

As I've listened to the testimonies of people whom God miraculously delivered from such desperate and doomed situations, I've sometimes felt that my personal testimony was somehow second rate. Have you ever felt that way?

I was raised in a Christian home and attended a Bible-teaching Christian church multiple times each week. That of course does not make me a Christian. But what happened at that church did result in me becoming a believer.

Each week, as a child and a young person, I heard the Word of God preached from the pulpit by men of God. They were not perfect men, but they were men who loved the Lord and loved the Bible. They preached it with varying styles and voices. One pastor who had a mangled hand preached each week with that one hand in his pocket during the entire sermon. One ended every sermon with "Are you listening? Are you sure you're listening?" And another preached with such sincerity and passion that he had to dab at the sweat on his forehead with a neatly folded white handkerchief multiple times during every sermon. I think he still does.

But one thing they had in common: they all preached God's Word.

So shall My word be which goes forth
from My mouth;
It shall not return empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in
the matter for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:11

I also encountered multiple, multiple adults who loved the Lord enough to minister "unto the least of these." They rocked me in the nursery, taught me songs in Sunday School, helped me build mobiles in Vacation Bible School, helped me memorize scriptures in Sunbeams, told me about missionaries in Mission Friends and GAs, took me on "tour" with the youth choir, weathered the craziness of Youth Camp, and gave me Caladryl lotion for my mosquito bites while on a mission trip just outside of New Orleans. These adults sat me down and taught me the Bible, told me Jesus loved me, and showed me that God has a plan for my life. But they also demonstrated all of that by spending their time with me, investing in me. I believed them.

And I had parents at home who not only insisted that I go to church, participate in all those programs, and tithe my babysitting money, but they also loved me the way the Bible says they're supposed to. So I got no mixed messages.

The bottom line? The church acted like the church and my parents loved me like they're supposed to and... it worked. 

At a very young age -- way before youth camp or tithing or mission trips -- I learned that I was a sinner in need of a savior. And I realized that Jesus had already paid the price for my sins with His death on the cross. I knew these things like I knew my name was Kay and I lived in Powder Springs, Georgia. There was never a doubt.

And I accepted it as truth. Not because I was indoctrinated, mind you, but because something in my spirit knew and believed with all my heart that this God I had learned about since I was just days old could be trusted. I had experienced God all around me and there was no way I was going to walk away from Him.

I just need to say it again. It worked. I want to repeat that because I want parents to know that consistently taking their children to church and plugging in there themselves is an eternally significant investment. But you have to go with the thing. You can't just take your children to church occasionally or drop them off and head out for coffee or go to worship services but nothing else. I'm here to tell you that me and my brother are living proof that if you really walk with the Lord personally and commit your family to participating actively in His church, then you will reap what you have sown. There are no guarantees, but I've seen it work over and over and over.

Truth is, I was even one of those kids who loved going to church, began having a daily quiet time while I was still in middle school, and loved studying the Bible.

That doesn't mean I was a fully matured Christian by the time I left my parents' home. I'm still not. I consider myself a work in progress, but I've never turned my back on God. Oh, I've kind of "eased" away from Him, with one eye on the Lord and one on whatever temptation has allured me. But I've also consistently felt His loving grip on me tighten each time I tried to "get away from" my Father. That "understanding " we entered into when I was just a child, that covenant, that salvation was a binding deal. And even when I've fudged a bit on my end of the bargain, He never has. 

I was truly saved as a child.

And that is why I've sometimes felt that my testimony didn't ring as powerfully as the stories of others who were saved from devastating habits, gripping addictions, and hateful attitudes. 

But today I read in 1 Samuel 12:2b the words of the prophet Samuel. Remember Samuel? He's the one who was dedicated to the Lord by his mother even before she conceived him. And when he was still a very small child she took him to the prophet Eli and handed him over literally to the God she had given him to theoretically. God began speaking to Samuel by name while he was still young. And he served the Lord faithfully (not perfectly, but faithfully) all his life. And here's what he said that got my attention:

I have walked before you
from my childhood 
to this day.

 May not sound like much, but that simple line resonated with me. What a powerful testimony!

And that made me think of the benefits of walking with the Lord from my childhood to this day.
Have you ever felt like your salvation testimony was somehow lacking in dynamics? I think that's a ploy of Satan. Don't you? If he can convince us that we have nothing worth sharing, then we'll undoubtedly keep quiet about the most important thing that ever happened in our lives. Now that would be a shame.

When did you begin to walk with the Lord? Whether your relationship with Christ began at an early age or only after you had experienced the bumps and bruises of life without Him, His timing is perfect, tailor made. I urge you to rejoice in the day of your salvation...whenever it was. Praise the Lord!

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