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When I was younger, my experience with the Bible or church was somewhat limited. It just wasn’t a consistent thing in my life. I can only recall going to church with my family a brief time as a kid but it didn’t stick for whatever reason.
The most experience I had growing up would be when I went to church with friends. My best friend’s dad was a pastor of a small Baptist church so every weekend I spent with her (which was a lot) we would go to church; I don’t remember paying a whole lot of attention though.
I always allowed myself to listen and have a good time but it is kind of like this barrier was up around my heart. Nothing seemed to be penetrating or making me change the focus of my life.
Then, early on as a teenager when I went to stay with my real dad in the city one summer; I was introduced to a big church with a big youth department that my step sister attended.
Attending church and being involved with the youth department was a big part of her life. That summer I got to attend a massive church camp in Ohio with her, I had never experienced anything like that!
It was so cool! The whole experience was eye-opening and I truly believe that was definitely a contributing factor that planted the seed that would take root much later down the line.
My stepmom bought me my very own personalized King James Bible. It was nice having my own Bible to finally tote around at church and reference. But as far as using it as a guide……. I would occasionally, if there was nothing else going on, I would pull it out and attempt to highlight some stuff that kinda made sense.
After that summer when it was time to go back home to my mom and step-dad’s house, everything fell apart! Back to the same ole tension, the same problems with no solution. I let myself fall back into my same old habits.
Obviously, the devil had plans for me, to keep my focus off of my awesome camp experience and my new Bible. I allowed myself to fall right into his trap. He knows our weaknesses and he used my situation to entice me down a different road away from God. He knew that I would let love and lust rule my life. You can read about in part 1.
The Begining of a New Era
A couple of years later when my son was around 3, my sweet Aunt Sandy sent me a small copy of the New Testament along with a letter, she had written folded inside. The letter almost seemed like a demand or overly persuasive message telling me to dive in, she also went on in the letter telling me what I can expect to happen if I put God’s word first.
At the time I chalked it up to a nice gesture.
I probably had that book a year or so when I started to take it to work with me. For what reason, I’ll never fully understand what prompted me to do that.
Maybe I was lonely at lunch or maybe just not stimulated enough, it was a time before smartphones. Or maybe my life and relationships really sucked and I was searching for help, perhaps I was looking for a solution to the panic attacks, that had abruptly started letting me know my life is not on track.
Looking back now, I feel it was probably the combination of all those things……I was a mess and I didn’t want to be anymore and that is all I really knew for sure.
As I would sit in the breakroom on my breaks at work I would read.
Honestly, I am not quite sure how much was really making sense. I mean I understood this NIV version better but I wasn’t memorizing scripture, or family lines of anyone in there by any means. I would read a little and then I would put it away and step out back and smoke before my break was up.
After a few weeks of this, I started to feel this tremendous amount of guilt.
How could I read the Bible, hearing about how God created me and loves me and my body is a temple and I shouldn’t intentionally do anything to harm it and then go outside and light up a cigarette?
I guess that is what you call being convicted by the Holy Spirit.
I remember saying a prayer from Romans and hoping that was enough to save me.
A week or so after that I quit smoking cold turkey for the first time since I picked them up at age 15.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9
Read part 3 here: https://northfourthst.com/testimony-part-3/