Monday, January 16, 2012

Northside Bible Church Testimony

I have shared my testimony publicly before, but never in print on the web. It feels like maybe now is the time to do that. This is basically what I said yesterday. It isn't exact, but it is the notes I wrote out ahead of time as I prepared.

When Stan asked me to do this I wondered how to condense 47 years into 15 minutes. I decided not to try. So then I prayed about what to say and God clearly said, Romans 8. 10 ½ years ago in Romania, Stan pointed me to Romans 8, and I have returned to it time and time again since. Romans 8 tells the story of my life. This morning I will draw your attention to a very familiar verse at the end of the chapter, but go home and read the whole thing. Then read chapters 6-8. Then read the whole book! Anyway, let me tell you what God’s done in my life.

My parents were good people, not Believers, but good people. They loved me, they cared about me; but when I was a kid I was abused by my step-grandfather, for about 6 years. Nobody knew. I came out of that period of my life a very confused teenager. I didn’t understand the damage that had been done to my heart. What I did know was that I didn’t want to think about it. So I stuffed all those memories and emotions into a box deep inside me, shoved a lid on it, and tried to pretend it wasn’t there.

Later that same year I came to know Christ. I was 14 years old, and after all this time I am still amazed that God loves me. I became a Believer, a new creation, saved from sin and hell; but God didn’t take away that box of memories from inside me. He didn’t change my past, He didn’t heal the wound to my heart. I kept that locked away inside and still didn’t realize I even had a wound. I was very afraid of what was in that box.

Fast forward about 23 yrs. A lot of things happened in that time. I rebelled and did some stupid things that I am now ashamed of. But God had hung on to me and loved me and taught me to trust Him. This was 10 years ago, and I was in Romania on a mission trip. You go on a mission trip and you think, this is great, God is going to use me to minister to somebody else! God had other plans for this trip. God decided it was time to begin healing that wound in my heart from my childhood. And He didn’t do it gently or tenderly. I think He didn’t need to give me a choice in the matter, because my choice was clearly always going to be hiding it inside. It’s like when your kid is sick and you go to the doctor and they need a shot. They are not going to choose the shot, but you know it’s what they need to get well. God had to force me to deal with my past, and He did it by exploding the box of memories and emotions that I had stuffed down inside me. One of our team members was sharing his testimony, and suddenly I was coming apart inside. Memories and emotions poured over me, and pieces of me went everywhere. I spent that entire night arguing with God, telling Him that I would not look at the past, could not look at the past, please don’t make me look at the past. I felt His presence there in the tent, and He seemed to be silently asking me a question. Becky, do you trust me? Do you trust me with the past? At about dawn I finally said ok. If this is what we have to do, ok. But You are going to have to do it, because I don’t know what to do. That was the beginning of a very difficult year; a year where God began to heal my heart.

Stan pointed me to the book of Psalms and to Romans 8. As I lost control of my mind and thoughts and emotions, I began to cling to scripture. It was the only thing that I knew was absolutely true. My mind was full of lies, but this was full of truth. I clung to scripture because my sanity depended on it. I wrote scripture passages on index cards and carried stacks of them in my pocket so I could read them during the day. God began to flush out that old wound with His Word and His Promises. It took a long time – in fact it is still happening today. I know I will have a painful scar until I get to heaven. But the year after Romania was the intense beginning of God’s healing for me.

About 3 months into that year I was walking and praying. I had gotten into the habit of praying and reading scripture aloud; I highly recommend it. At that point I didn’t worry much about people thinking I was crazy for walking around talking to myself, because I was pretty sure that I was crazy. Anyway, I was walking and talking to God. I don’t remember what I was talking about, the words weren’t planned or thought out. But as I walked I heard these words come out of my mouth, “God, I just realized that every day for the past 3 months You have spoken to me in a very real way. Every single day I have felt Your Presence. That’s cool! In all my years as a Believer I it’s not been that way for that long. If it took abuse to put me here, well, that’s ok too.” I literally stopped in my tracks and slapped my hand over my mouth. What had I just said to God? “Wait God, let me think about that for a minute.” I stood there and thought about where I was, and finally said, “I’ll stick with that God. It is worth anything to be in this place of dependence and trust in You, even something as terrible as child abuse.”

My friends, that is Romans 8:28. Do you see it? And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

Sexual abuse is a terrible thing. Child molesters and baby-rapers are looked down on even in prisons. But through this terrible situation in my past, God drew me close to Him and brought me to a dependence and trust that could not have been possible otherwise. And that is to my infinite good. My past made me what I am today, and I would not trade my relationship with God for a perfect childhood. I know that in all things God is working for my good, and I trust Him.

Let me close in prayer. God, thank you for the opportunity to share what You have done in my life. I needed the reminder. Glorify Yourself in me. And if someone here is hurting because of my story, I pray that they would trust You and run to You. Thank You, thank You. Amen.
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