“And every step of the way His grace is making me
Every breath I breathe, He is saving me
And I believe.”
~Andrew Peterson, The Good Confession
This week we were challenged by our pastor to tell our stories of how we came to faith. I wrote some of my story in a blog almost two years ago, and I want to share it again.*
I was born on a church pew.
Not really. But since I was little my parents have been involved in religious ministry – from hosting Bible studies in our home in Panama to pastoring a church for the past 25 years. I’m forever grateful to my parents for the seeds of faith they planted and watered in me.
Things got interesting one Sunday during the altar call. I was surprised to see my sister crying and walking to the front of church to receive Jesus. Not wanting to be outdone and risk appearing more sinful than my twin, I followed her, produced some tears and prayed to accept Jesus Christ into my heart. I was eight years old.
When the pastor baptized me I flailed, and he ended up dunking me twice. He concluded I’d be a good Baptist. My sister concluded I needed all the extra dunking I could get.
There were many, many times after that day I would pray the prayer repeatedly, just in case. “Jesus, I believe in You! I believe You died on the cross and rose again. Please forgive my sins, and come into my heart. I accept You as my Lord and Savior. Thank you for saving me. Amen.”
Growing up as a preacher’s daughter, my attendance was mandatory at Sunday School and VBS and youth group meetings. But I went gladly. Over the years I’d seen people lost, broken, grieving, angry, empty – and I saw them changed (not necessarily their circumstances, but their lives). I could not explain it. But I had no doubt in the power of God to transform, to give Life and hope.
In college, I came to love the words in my Bible. Those words became my lifeline when I lived in Ethiopia.
Marriage and motherhood have stretched, challenged, wrecked and re-built my faith more than anything ever could.
‘Till sin be bitter, Christ is not sweet. I’ve long understood the doctrine of grace, and I’ve been encouraged by it as I’ve seen it demonstrated in the lives of others. But in recent years I experienced the way of grace in my own life like never before. I fell. I fell into a horrible pit, not only hurting myself but others around me. When I saw myself apart from God’s grace, I found the ugliest heart and guilt so terrible, I could have died. But then the very nature of Christ reached through friends, through my husband, to love me. Amazing grace, I will never forget.
Some friends/readers have admired my faith, so here’s my story. I am utterly unfaithful, and God has been ever faithful to me. I can tell you I’m like the father whose son had no speech, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!” I can tell you I’m learning that “without faith, it is impossible to please God”, and all I want is to please Him. I can tell you that I love much because I have been forgiven much. I can tell you that I still pray with eight year-old faith: Jesus, I believe in You! Thank you for saving me. Again and again. Amen.