I was blessed to be born into a Christian home and environment. 99% of the people I knew growing up were Christians, and I led a pretty easy life. A great family, Christian education, steady church attendance, and Christian friends. So how did that influence my faith? Well, I knew a lot about the stories of the Bible, favorite verses I could recite and I could rattle off the names of all the books of the Bible. I coasted along but was never faced with extreme loss or disappointment or sickness. So my view of God was more like a “fear” or “extreme respect” of God. I need to go to church twice on Sunday, rest the remainder of the day and follow a routine that cannot be broken. If I don’t follow those things, that is when bad things must happen, I thought. When I would hear about bad things happening to other people I thought God must be punishing them for a major sin in their life. Looking back my childhood view of God was pretty inaccurate.
Finally, in my early twenties my first real sorrow came when my baby niece who was only 2 months old passed away from SIDS. She died less than 24 hours after she was baptized. We came home on a Sunday night after a joyous celebration in Michigan commemorating her being baptized and the next morning got the call that she had died. This shook me to my core because it made no sense at all. How could God do this to us? I saw how much pain it caused my family. Yet despite all the pain there were so many “coincidences” that could have only been orchestrated by God alone. It gave me comfort to know that God was present in the pain and sadness and my baby niece was now with the angels up in heaven. I then got to see how God proved faithful by blessing my brother and sister–in-law with three more children in the years to come. God is truly faithful.
Fast forward to the year 2006, about a year and a half after my first child was born. My health began to deteriorate. Every muscle, joint and bone in my body was painful, tender and swollen. I could barely get out of bed after sleeping eight hours because I had no energy. I thought I must have cancer. After much testing the diagnosis came back….I had an auto-immune connective tissue disease called Lupus. My specialist told me there is no cure for lupus. He told me I could not have any more children, the disease would progress and start affecting my organs and I would die a premature death. He told me to go home and take out a disability policy because I would not be able to work anymore. He painted me a picture of no hope. I had to go on a cocktail of medications that made me feel like a zombie. I remember lying in bed with tears in my eyes saying, “God, I can’t do this anymore. I can’t do this on my own. I am so sick. I don’t know what is going to happen to me.” Soon after that prayer I found out about a holistic doctor. To make a long story short, I followed his advice and ended up being cured of lupus! We were able to have another baby after all. We named her Grace because it was only by God’s grace that he made me healthy again to birth a child. That situation taught me to trust God and surrender. We can have all the plans in the world but they take a back seat to the master plan God has for us. It also gave me a lot of compassion for those who are in physical or emotional pain because I experienced both. Looking back I realize that God was giving me that experience so that I can exercise mercy as a spiritual gift.
A couple years later I joined a women’s Bible study at a church in my town. I didn’t know anyone from the group but saw an advertisement that they were doing a Beth Moore study and I felt called to go. I ended up attending for a few years and during this time of study I felt like I grew immensely in my personal walk with God. The Bible was transformed in a way that I have never experienced before. I’m forever grateful for that time spent in the Word because I know now that it helped prepare me for what was about to happen in the future.
2014 was a rough year for me. My dad was in and out of the hospital with some health issues that he had been dealing with for many years. He passed away quite suddenly in June 2014. That was by far the hardest thing I have ever gone through but God granted me peace and comfort throughout. I know that those years of intense Bible study helped anchor my faith so that when I faced those terrible circumstances I never felt alone. I prayed for healing all along but God’s plan was to give my dad ultimate healing for eternity. In that situation as well there were so many events that occurred that only God could have done. It renewed my faith to witness these events and to know that God was in control of all things.
My faith is a journey not a destination. I was brought into this world by two parents that loved the Lord and I was baptized as an infant. Throughout my childhood my faith was primarily a “head knowledge” faith. But as I grow older I am growing in my personal relationship with Christ. My view on God that I had as a child has changed and I know God as a loving God who gives us trials, struggles and sadness to teach, challenge and change us amidst the dark times. If life remained easy for me I wouldn’t have grown. Each time I choose to talk with God, read the Word, attend church, and serve others my relationship with Christ gets deeper and more meaningful. It is a really cool thing when you feel the Spirit urging you to open your Bible to get fed and you do it not out of guilt or obligation but because you truly want to spend time with your God and Savior. The more in tune you become with the Holy Spirit the more you see evidence of the Holy Spirit working in your life. I have found that only a relationship with Jesus can fill any void in your life. I know I need Jesus desperately. I need him just as much as the air I breathe. My day goes by so much better when I wake up with a song in my heart, a verse in my mind and a prayer on my lips. When I put God as #1, the rest of my day gets put into perspective-nothing else matters in life except taking the next step on my journey. I challenge you if you are just going through the motions to stop and access your life. Are you growing closer to Christ each day or is your relationship stagnant and at a standstill? If it is I urge you to do something! Join a Bible study, attend a Christian concert, be part of a small group or connect with your Pastor. These things can encourage and challenge you. Most of all, pray that God will grant you a fresh approach to your relationship and it can become personal and meaningful. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me personally and also as a member of Pathway church. I move forward with a confidence that we serve an awesome and loving God who is capable of so much more than we can ask or imagine!
By Becky Hart