Click here to listen to my testimony, given at church on Easter 2011, or read the written version below.
Growing up, I was blessed with a very stable family, and the early part of my life was really pretty uneventful. My parents loved each other, and they loved me and my brother. My entire childhood we lived in the same red-brick house at the end of a gravel driveway. My parents both had their own small businesses, so they were always able to provide for us.
With all that stability and provision, I trusted my parents. But I spent a lot of time worrying.
At home I worried about displeasing my parents or upsetting my brother. At school I worried about displeasing my teachers and friends or getting any grade less than an A. At night, I worried about bad things happening, like burglaries, house fires and car wrecks. I worried a lot, and I simply did not have a deep peace despite my good circumstances.
One weekend my brother spent the night with his best friend and went to church with him the next morning. When he came home, Brent excitedly told my parents and me that he had trusted in Jesus that morning, and he wanted to be baptized. I had no idea what he meant, but my parents did. Soon the two of us were meeting regularly with the pastor of a church we had attended only sporadically before then.
I had lots of questions about Jesus because I had so rarely attended church and I did not have a Bible. During those meetings with the pastor, I came to understand that the wrong things I had done in my life separated me from God. I also began to understand that Jesus died to bridge that gap between me and God. I trusted in Jesus, and a few months later, my brother and I were baptized together.
Upon hearing the news of my baptism, my grandma gave me my very own personalized Bible. I began to read and study it.
It was a slow process, but over the next several years as I studied the Bible – alone and in youth group settings – and I discovered that all my worrying would not add a single hour to my life or anyone else’s life. I also discovered that through my personal prayer relationship with Jesus, I could have deep peace – a peace that was not dependent on my life circumstances.
This truth became very real to me when my mom was diagnosed with cancer. God did not answer my prayers for her healing the way I wanted Him to answer. She lived only three years after her initial diagnosis.
I was 17 when my mom died, and it was a deep, painful loss. As I prepared to leave for college, I grieved and felt like my whole family was falling apart. Stability was gone. I could no longer trust in my parents because one was dead and the other was overcome with grief and bitterness. I did not understand. Why would God take away someone I loved and needed so much? Why would He do that at such a pivotal time in my life?
Those dark days overflowed with pain and uncertainty. I learned to trust God in ways I had never before trusted Him. But deep down I had an inner peace. And that peace guarded my heart and my mind through those very heartbreaking circumstances.
Today that deep inner peace continues through my relationship with Jesus. I still worry some, yes, but I am learning to take those concerns to Jesus in prayer and to be thankful for all that He gives. No matter what my circumstances are in life – good or bad – I can trust Him. He will always care for me and provide for my needs, no matter what. And no matter what, I will spend eternity with Him in heaven.