"Be not afraid, only believe"
As a young child, I was given a King James Version Bible for Easter of 1996...it was huge, it was well made and sturdy, and it had thumb tabs like a legitimate library-dictionary does. The parchment was so thin and fragile but held so strong...I didn't know too much about God except that if you do bad things, you're pretty much going to Hell.
No one pushed these beliefs on us...we were influenced by my step father but he never made us go to church or the like...but I found myself searching on my own...I wanted to know more about God...and who is this dude Jesus his Son? What about Him?
I started going to church on my own and of course my parents made no objections to me going but they never did join me and I was fine with that. He was like my friend that I went to hang out with every Sunday...with whom I drank free church coffee with...yes, at age 8 hahaha.
I was sent then, at the age of 10 to my first private school and it surely lit a fire in me...I was learning more and more....then I moved to another private school where a different flame was ignited...and I was so caught up in the rules, the religion, and boy-- the guilt. This school was not exactly hell fire and brimstone...but it was certainly not a nurturing one either. It was a rather condemning school for an establishment set up to instil a sense of the Love of God inside these individuals. It left me so torn and by the end of the journey...it left me so jaded.
By the time I moved to Japan, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were just on their way out as far as my faith, my mind, and my heart were concerned. I attended the Mormon church as I made a great friend of a Mormon girl...I didn't stay too long...and I read about other religions and I kept trying to go back to church...and everywhere I went, my questions as to who God was...and what he meant by this and why that and why this, were not met with understanding...the understanding of a young girl in search of this God she clearly knows a thing or two about but lost grip of. I was not met with a very welcoming way to the path...but rather pretty assertive and sometimes aggressive rules and ideas and guidelines that one had to follow and never mind your silly questions young lady!
By the time I hit Highschool...God came in and out of my life and by College and after I left my studies at 19...I was the one condemning....condemning God and his believers. I did a complete turn around. I studied it and found it was made up...like all the other religions. I had been through a range of emotions...having moved from one family to another then back and then back to the other one again, and then on my own ...I was convinced that this imaginary dude and the beliefs behind it were just bullshit. They were a reason to fight...a reason to judge others....it was all fake and only people who don't know any better need a God. But not me...I didn't need anyone and you couldn't tell me NOTHIN!
Then when I was 23, I went back home to Maui after being away for five plus years....
And as I walked off the plane and into the open passage way...I looked upon my homeland...and I was hit with a sense of God....I just was dumbfounded. I said to myself "Surely this is Gods country..."
I spent almost a month there, and during that time, God revealed himself to me more and more each day....and I left knowing once again, that He existed.
FAST FORWARD to when I was accepted to work at Attunga, a Youth Ministry camp in Canyonleigh, Australia...cooking for the interns who are there to study the Bible (a book I have always loved even when I stopped believing in it), and for the camps that come in.
I decided that no matter what, I know my God, I know my relationship with him, I am excited to see these folks who are excited about God, but we're not talking about Jesus. I am comfortable with God...but Jesus is just a character...super tight and all that but he's not real. PLEASE don't try to tell me anything cos I KNOW what I know and again, you can't tell me nothin'!!
And LORD was I wrong. I did NOT know. In fact, I did not WANT to know...but through out my time on this camp, with the most AMAZING, uplifting and encouraging people, I witness unbelievable miracles....little ones...big ones...and still I would not accept Jesus.
One nite I had this dream that I was on this slope ("we on a slope!")...and the ocean was raging below me...and this person I was with kept saying Jesus this and Jesus that and somehow it became understood that Jesus was the Ocean..and if I just wanted Him, I just need to go in and swim. And the waves started reaching up and lapping at my feet...and I vigorously tried to climb this slope...but slowly I started to slide down it toward the water and I am, with both feet, putting an absolute stop to it, I'm climbing up, I am putting my heels into the slope and saying "No, I WILL NOT go in!"
And I woke up from that in a daze...it hit me hard. I went into the coffee shop where the interns gather to do their devotionals...and we ended up talking about it and about God and Jesus and what I was afraid of and what I needed. Then Chris asked me if they could pray for me...and with tears streaming down my face I said "Please.." ...he asked what for and I told them "..conviction."
I needed conviction because when I would pray, I would always throw in a "Lord Jesus" in there, this one I did not believe in....I needed convinction because the Bible STILL moved me, still stirred my soul...I needed conviction because everytime I went to church, I cried during worship, and I cried during sermons, and I cried when the man at the stage asked whomever needed Jesus, to come down and receive him. And for years I'd been to church in and out, praying I would one day feel convicted to do so..to truly believe...and every time I heard those words...I said "not today."
I needed conviction because no matter how close or far I put God....He ALWAYS chased me, He ALWAYS stayed faithful...and I KNEW it...but I still wouldn't believe. I was so afraid. Living my life for me and doing whatever the eff I wanted was working out great for me....but yet, in the years of rebuking God, I was depressed at times...and when I really needed Him, I called out to the one I severely denied; and still He answered.
I was not going to go to church this evening, I was just going to go home, but I ended up being able to stay at Attunga (I came back to visit) for another nite, so I went to church since I was going to be riding back with them.
So....The speaker is from Seattle...and he speaks that slang I talk...and I am LOVING it. He opens up with asking something like "Do you know what you're doing, where are you going?" something along the lines like "Do you need direction?" And I said out loud "Lord TELL me!" as a proclamation one may make is a gospel church. Although the delivery of his sermon was funny and light hearted, it was the message that just struck me.
He shared the story of the woman who was bleeding for 12 years...TWELVE years...and not only did she exhaust all her finances on physicians and doctors, she was getting worse and worse...
She saw Jesus with his people walking through the town, and knew that if she just touched this mans clothes, she would be healed. She made her way through the crowd and reached and grabbed the hem of his garment. Jesus stopped and asked "Who touched my clothes?"
His disciple replied that they were walking through a crowd of people, it could have been anyone. And yet Jesus asked who touched him? This woman fell to His feet and told him the truth. He replied by telling her it was her faith which healed her, and to go in peace...
Just before this, a synagogue leader, a wealthy man who for once cannot use his status or money to fix the situation he finds himself in (which is that his daughter is dying), he too falls at the feet of Jesus and begs him to heal his daughter. And just like that, Jesus followed the man to his home. Sure enough, the daughter is healed.
And his message was that faith without works is dead...and that it took falling to the feet of Jesus and saying "Heal me!" and Jesus did. But if that woman had just prayed and prayed and stood in the crowd hoping she'd be healed well...it's just not how it went....She believed if she touched his garments, she would be healed, and so she made an action..she went through the crowd and reached out for the cloak of Christ...and by that faith alone, she was healed.
I realised I had just been standing in the crowd just saying "Okay Jesus, if you're real just show me..I'm ready"
But it doesn't really work like that...especially not with me I don't think...He had shown me his powers so many times and I still stood there, with half faith and no work.
So as I've heard so many times "just raise your hands if you need Jesus...and I'll pray for you"
I was so moved but..I was pretty sure this was going to be like every other time...but God, I needed that prayer...
And then he asked those who needed Jesus to raise their hands...and I didn't...and then he asked those who lost Jesus, who once had and have strayed and need him again, and who want him to pray for them...to lift their hands...I didn't know who was watching, I was with so many people from the camp who already had Jesus...but I needed that prayer so badly. So I raised my hands and kept my eyes closed.
Then he said that if you wanted that prayer, to come down to the stage right in front of him, and receive it. And I slowly gathered my things still nearly convinced I may not go although I needed it, and Haydee asked me if I wanted her to go with me...Yes, please, yes! She grabbed my hand, then Lissy and Leana followed behind me as I made my way through the crowd to reach my hand out and fall at the feet of Jesus. I reached out and put that faith to work... and put that work into my faith!
I guess what I am saying is...I was given the conviction that myself and so many others had been praying and praying and PRAYING for. I knew Him once, and now I know Him again-- and it's so nice as an adult to know him, but to understand him with that child like faith I once had as a child.
So my friends, please, continue to pray for me on this journey, on this step I have taken...I ask that you all hold me accountable to my testimony today.
In Jesus' name,