**This post is slightly out of date. I began writing it in March!**
This morning I finished reading the book of Joshua. It ends with the Lord reminded them all He had done for them, reminding them of His patience, His guiding hand, His trustworthiness. It ends with Joshua exhorting the people to follow God's way, and choose Him over everyone/thing else - and telling them what he has chosen: "...choose this day whom you will serve, ... But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15)
I got thinking how important it is for us to remember what God has done in our own lives. When we read the account of how God brought the children of Israel up out of Egypt, we can see constantly God's awesome power and strength - how much He loved those people, despite their sin. We can read those chapters and wonder, "They were so foolish! How could they have forgotten so easily all that God has done for them?" Yet sometimes it's easy for me to forget all God has done for me! How He has saved me, how He has guided and protected me, how He has used me despite what I have done and who I am.
Almost two years ago, I wrote about how the Lord brought Tim and I to Mexico. I used to think that missionaries were extra special Christians, extra spriritual, extra everything. I am blessed to know and have known many missionaries, and am so thankful for their godly example to me, and the strength I can see they draw from the Lord. But now I know that missionaries are ordinary people. They are not more important than anyone else, but just serving the Lord in a different place, and often in different circumstances. I am thankful for where the Lord has us to be, and we have seen and experienced things I never would have back in Canada. The Lord has taught me (and continues to teach me) so much in the circumstances He has placed us. I am also so thankful for the dear believers back "home" who are leaving a godly heritage where they are. They have some different struggles and temptations than I do, and some are the same. But how glad I am that many believers, with the Lord's help, are rising above difficulties and trials, and are standing strong. They are praying, they are witnessing and sharing the good news of salvation with family, friends and co-workers, they are living lives set apart for the Lord, they are desiring to be more like Him!
So where am I going with all of this? Good question!! =) While I don't know the exact date, it was 15 years ago around this time of year, that the Lord restored my heart in a big way to Him. I won't go over many of the details, but here is a short summary of how the Lord worked in my life at that time.
I became a Christian when I was 6 years old - August 27th, 1983, to be exact. I remember the night clearly, even though not all of the details are still clear!! =) I remember talking to both my mom and my dad and reading verses from the Bible together. Then, I remember getting down beside my bed all by myself in the dark, admitting to God what a sinner I was, and asking Him to save me. And He did! Then, I remember thanking Him, and thinking it was so neat to be able to call God my Father! My life and direction changed from that moment on - I had the Holy Spirit living inside of me, and I was a new creation in Christ Jesus!
It would be wonderful if every person read the Bible, but it is essential for the spiritual growth of every person who is a Christian to spend time reading the Word of God. I admit my spiritual growth was stunted early on - I did not make it a priority to read my Bible or pray - and that greatly affected me. While I still had spiritual desires, I more or less ignored promptings from the Holy Spirit, and went my own way. I got involved with some people who did not in any way encourage my walk with the Lord (just the opposite), and I got further and further away from Him. Interesting to note that He did not go anywhere - just I did.
Fast forward a few years. I was 19 years old. I was done high school, had a job, had lots of friends, and was no longer living with my parents. I knew how I was living was wrong, but usually I managed to keep those thoughts pushed away far enough that I didn't worry about it too much. I had not been out to a meeting (church service) in about a year, although my parents and brother often asked me to go. I didn't like going to them though, because I always felt they were preaching right at me! Gospel meetings began in the city I was living in - quite close to where I was living. My mom asked me if I would attend. For "some reason" I chose to. The preachers were my dad and John D - whom I had never met before. The meetings went on for 7 weeks, and I attended sporatically. After several meetings, a couple visits with John about which direction my life was heading in, and the Holy Spirit working on me - I was ready to go back. I honestly didn't want to leave behind everything, but knew it was my only option - I couldn't resist my Father any more! While my restoration really was a long, slow road - at that time, I repented of my sin, and returned to my gracious parents' home, wondering what my future would hold.
I actually did not have very high hopes for my future spiritually. Thankfully, even while I didn't have much hope, Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." I was a weak, immature Christian, with absolutely nothing more than a desire to follow what God wanted for my life. He let me know that He wanted me to "...go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and ...I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty."" (2 Corinthians 6:17-18) I knew I could trust Him to be everything I needed. Just like when I received God's salvation by His grace alone, and not because I deserved it, I found out that, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1)
I didn't know any other Christian young people my age really, and felt like a fish out of water at the beginning. Little by little I got to know some young people who wanted to be more and more like the Lord Jesus. I began to read my Bible regularly, and spend time in prayer every day. I learned the importance of studying my Bible, and memorizing verses. I began to learn how to follow the Holy Spirit's promptings.
While the "anniversary" of my restoration is passed now, I just wanted to share this with you to encourage you too, in a little of what the Lord has done in my life, and how great the mercy and grace of God is! I have not finished the course the Lord has set out for me yet - I actually hope the Lord spares me a bit longer, because there are so many more things that need work in me! It is truly "...by the grace of God I am what I am," (1 Corinthians 15:10), and where I am right now. We have hope, not because of anything we are or do, but because of Who He is!