Where to does one begin when telling the most important story of their life?
I guess the beginning is the best place to start. I was brought up in a Christian household and went to church every Sunday morning, and every Sunday night. We went to a small church out in the country and it was what you would imagine every small church in the country would be like. There were about 40 people on a good day, and yes most were related.
We had a youth group, a leader, and some of my fondest memories include those people. There was always a smorgasbord of food at our pot lucks after a special service, and let me tell you those ladies could cook, everything was from scratch and you just can’t buy that kind of cooking in the stores! This church is where I learned about Jesus and everything He had to offer. When I was about 10, one of the Sunday school teachers said, “Who wants to be saved?” Duh! everyone raised their hands. She said, “Say this prayer that I say and you will be saved.” I was like, cool, so I said the prayer and at the end of the service walked that red carpeted aisle and thought nice, I guess I’m saved! I then proceeded to get baptized and everyone was so happy so I just got caught up in the “happy” and time moved on.
Once in a while, as I began to grow up and rationalize things I would get these nagging doubts about my salvation, believe me I lost a lot of sleep over these doubts. When I was 15, we had a revival (a week-long event where you go to church every night) and an evangelist came and preached. I got really uncomfortable about what he was saying about hell and decided maybe I wasn’t saved after all. So, I walked that red carpeted aisle once again and truly accepted Jesus as my personal savior. I knew I didn’t want to go to hell and told Jesus that, said I was a sinner and I accepted him as my Savior. I felt really good about my decision but still didn’t have that “ah-ha” moment with lights going off in my head or hearing an audible voice, although there was a peace that pushed those doubts away for a time.
I continued on and time passed and I realized I wasn’t really growing in my faith. I still had those moments of what if? What if I’m not saved? What if I said the prayer wrong? What if He’s not who He says He is? Let me tell you Satan is the father of lies and he will use your weaknesses to distract and derail you at every opportunity.
I begin to just live in a constant state of “what if?”, and that’s not a comfortable place to be. I did all the things a “good” Christian is supposed to do, Christian concerts, Christian music, Bible studies, but never truly developed my faith or grew into adulthood in Christ. I remained a child.
As a result, every time the preacher would pray the prayer of salvation I would pray it-just in case. I thought it was like buying insurance for heaven. John 10:10 tells us the enemy comes to kill steal and destroy, so if he can keep us off balance we are useless for the kingdom of God. I was very private about my struggle, meaning only my husband knew my circumstances. I was embarrassed because I had already been twice dipped so surely that was enough! Then came the Bible study “Something Abundant” with Amy Grigg, and Angie Nichols. It changed my world forever and ever!
At first the study seemed strange, and almost unnatural. It spoke about the Bride of Christ and the crazy, wonderful, all-powerful love he has for his Bride. This was a new concept for me, during the study we learned about the Jewish wedding and it’s customs and traditions. There are so many attributes that mimic the love Christ has for his church and his return it’s truly mind boggling. If I could get everyone to do just one study it would be this one. There was one particular part during the marriage contract that hit me like a full blown tornado. When the intended groom comes to offer for the bride there is a contract between the father of the bride and the intended groom. In the Jewish tradition these contracts were binding and only a divorce after acceptance could break them, so they were important. After the father and the intended groom agree on the terms of the contract, the bride is brought in for the drink offering. If she accepts the cup she is agreeing to marry the groom, if she does not accept the drink offering she is rejecting the offer of marriage.
To me this was the perfect analogy of Jesus standing there offering me salvation with the cup extended in his hand and he simply says, take it and drink. It’s up to us whether we accept the cup or reject it. That’s when the bells went off in my head and it became so simple. It’s so simple that we miss it. I want to make t-shirts that say “TAKE THE CUP!!!!!”
After that day I really haven’t had any more doubt about my salvation. I’ve taken the cup and I have accepted Him and He is AMAZING! During our study we had a wedding feast that goes along with the Jewish wedding traditions. I hosted it and wanted it to be as authentic as possible. I researched a lot about the Jewish customs and traditions and the different Jewish colors. As I was searching for these things I ran across the Jewish color of crimson, in Hebrew the word is SHANI – my name! Throughout my life, my name has been like a noose around my neck. NO ONE pronounces it correctly, and don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t either if I saw it. It’s pronounced Shanna like banana. In researching it I found that it means life blood – crimson. I really just couldn’t believe this on that day at my kitchen table it was like God announced to me, “I know your name!” The one thing He knew would get my attention, and that I disliked the most became my most prized possession.
God is good and it took me a long time to grow up in my faith. In fact, I’m still growing in my faith, but I’m not going to let Satan win! I refuse to be scared off by his lies and confusion. I am here for a purpose and everyday God shows me new and wonderful things. I need only to listen, and I hope you will too! He knows your name too, and can show you unimaginable things, if only you accept him and listen. I leave you with this Revelation 19:7-9 “Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. Then the angel said to me, ‘Write: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding super of the Lamb! And he added, These are the true words of God.’ ”
Are you going to be there? I am, and it’s going to be incredible, join me!