Sunday, September 16, 2012
Out of the darkness and into the light . . October 1995
I made a post a couple days ago about thoughts on 1 Peter 2:9 but didn't finish. I didn't finish because what was to come next was very personal . . . so if you don't like reading personal, touchy-feely, God-type stuff . . stop reading now!
Okay, so you're still with me. Anyway, I left off on a story that was probably the most important story of my life . . which happened in October 1995. I had an old friend recently ask me if there was a moment or experience when I knew I was "saved" . . that's what we former Baptists call it . . or just that I knew I had found what I was looking for in God, for those of you who aren't Baptists. The verse that I read discussed God calling us "out of the darkness and into His wonderful light" when we become Christians.
This is what I, and any other believer, has experienced . . . a time in life when God calls us "Out of the darkness and into His wonderful light." I believe each person's experience meeting God will be different, and God knows what each of us need to open our eyes to the darkness around us and come into His light. Like I mentioned in the last post, I wasn't reading my Bible and had only been to church a handful of times before the fall of 1995. However, I did make a committment to Christ at a young age and believe God was calling me to Himself since that time . . . .
Mark was still in college, finishing up his engineering degree. I had already graduated from the Landscape Architecture program at NDSU. We had gotten married in the spring and had our first son, Ashton, in late summer. We still lived up in Fargo, ND while Mark was finishing his education. I worked as a Landscape Designer at a local nursery and Mark worked as a custodian at the university. We just began attending a small Southern Baptist church next to the campus . . Temple Baptist with Durward (Dude) Garrett as the pastor.
Mark was asked to be a groomsman in one of his good friend's wedding. This wedding event was exciting to me, having just become a new mom with no time left for "partying" since Ashton was born. So we went back to my hometown, near where the wedding was. My mom and grandma graciously babysat Ashton while Mark and I attended the wedding festivities. I had been in contact with some of my hometown friends and they said they would be at a local bar close to where the reception was. I thought, "Perfect time to see some old friends and pound some brewsky's."
After the wedding and reception, Mark reluctantly agreed to go with me to the local bar to meet up with some friends. We got there and I was so excited to be away from motherhood and back in my old stomping ground .. there wasn't any other place I wanted to be at that point!
We were there for about fifteen minutes or so and I enjoyed listening to the band and reminiscing with some old friends. It was at that point that I looked around the bar and it was as if someone had literally turned the lights on in the room. I sat there taking it all in. I had never felt this way before. I saw people in conversations . . . married men and women talking intimately with eachother . . and not with their spouses. I heard an old friend make a crude sexual remark and follow it up with some cursing. I saw a girlfriend of mine brush up against a man other than her husband.
Keep in mind that none of this had EVER bothered me in the past. This was the type of place I liked to hang out. I probably would have been one of the first to throw back a shot and drop the f-bomb all in the same breath. But in that dark place (you know how the lights are dimmed late at night at bars) I saw God shed His light on things that I had never seen before . . . literally and figuratively.
I looked at Mark, and said, "Let's go. I don't feel like this is where God wants us to be." He agreed and we left.
I have never been the same since. I have certainly tried to find satisfaction in things like that . . but every time, there is a voice within (what I've come to know as the Holy Spirit) that has told me, "This is not where you should be." Sometimes I ignore that voice, but it is there nonetheless, where it never was before.
I came home and told my mom and grandma what had happened to me that night. They looked at me oddly but were supportive at the same time. I lost most of my friends after this as they couldn't understand why I didn't want to participate in what we had always done together. I tried not to be judgmental. But I think my old friends felt judged just by my telling them how God was working in me and my wanting to be obedient to Him.
Don't get me wrong . . I am not perfect now, nor ever will be. And I am not a "Holier than Thou" type that condemns people for what they do. But I know what God wants for me and whenever I try to find my satifaction in things other than God (which I do often) He brings me back to the point of confession and finding my joy in Him and the things of Him. I am thankful for His patience with me!
Shortly after this time, Mark and I were baptized together and had Ashton dedicated and I remember coming across a verse in the Bible . . . John 14:15-17 . . "If you love Me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever - the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know Him, for he lives with you and will be in you." (NIV) I rememember thinking, "This is me. This is what has happened to me." This was a great confirmation of faith in that I had never read this before, but God said clearly what had happened in my life in this passage!
So that is my testimony. Kind of personal. But hopefully someone will enjoy reading it and can relate in some way!