A Love Story of My Own
I grew up going to church for the most part.
It started when I was eight-years-old and my mother and grandmother gave their hearts to the Lord. They attended a church where people attended together yet they also reached out to each other outside of the church building. I remember picnics and dinners out. I remember a new community of people who surrounded our family with love.
I remember my Sunday School teacher who shared God’s love through flannel graph stories and films. Not the VCR tapes movies, but rather the old reel-to-reel films that showed the parables of Jesus, and told what it meant to be faithful, honest, and true. I loved my Sunday School class, children’s church, and the prizes I got for memorizing Scripture. I remember singing songs about God. I remember wonderful Summer VBS camps and memorizing the books of the Bible to win a board game.
The problem was that while all those things made me think about God (and I loved Him in a way) I didn’t understand what a personal relationship God meant.
I didn’t know how it applied to my everyday life.
And then, instead of continuing my relationship with God, and continuing to spend time with others, I walked away from that in my teen years. I wanted to do things my own way. I was looking for love and I thought I could find it in boys.
Instead, I found myself pregnant and without a boyfriend when I was only 17. For many, many months I didn’t want to think about what God thought about me. I tried to push all thoughts of Him out of my mind. I didn’t want to think about all the memory verses I’d memorized as a child. Instead, I wallowed in everything I had lost–my youth, my teen years, my boyfriend who was with someone else. I felt more and more depressed as they days passed.
Then one day around noon I was watching soap operas and I started to remember those good moments when a church family loved me. I didn’t dwell on everything that had gone wrong.
This day, I thought about a time in my life when things used to be right, when I was happy. When I believed in God, and when I had joy.
And that is the day I gave my heart to the Lord … my whole heart.
I wrapped my arms around my stomach and I said, “God, I have messed up big time. If you can do anything with my life, please do.” It was at that moment that I felt HOPE spring into my heart. Hope in God. Hope in my future. Hope in eternity because I knew Christ had forgiven me for all my sins. And that was the beginning of my love relationship with God. I had loved him before like I loved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and loved watching CHIPS on TV. Not potato chips, but those cute highway patrolmen who rode around on motorcycles and stopped crime.
Once I realized the depth of my sin and understood had God had washed me and made me are pure and white as snow, that’s when I truly fell in love with him.
We can have knowledge of God and spend time in His house and with His people, but until we understand who we are without Him–understand the truth of our sin–that’s when the true love relationship begins.
By accepting my sin and the pain it caused, I truly fell in love with Jesus for taking that sin away through His death on the cross.
So let me ask you…
When Did You Fall In Love With God?
Resources to check out…
Life in Spite of Me by Kristen Jan Anderson & Tricia Goyer
I Still Believe by Jeremy Camp
Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman
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Diana Montgomery says
I was kinda same story. I grew up in church! I did as my parents said to do. I was even baptized because it was there decision. Not till I was a adult with a baby of my own did I really understand about a personal relationship with God. No one can have you do what you want and be saved, July 1978 I got it right. I personally accepted Jesus as my personal saviour . I was baptized , but this time I knew why.
Tricia Goyer says
WHat a beautiful story, Diana. Thank you so much for sharing!
Andrea Cox says
Tricia, God has definitely used you in such a positive way. Isn’t it neat to look back on how small we were thinking about our lives and what God could do through us… and then see where we are now and how BIG He’s used us? I never would have imagined tutoring so many kids in the last ten years, changing their lives one math problem or reading story at a time. But my mom, sis, and I tutor around 50 kids a school year, plus summers. Multiply that times ten and you get 500. It’s mind-blowing to think about that big of a number, and that’s just the average figure-it-out-quick number.
When did I fall in love with God? At age seven, when I realized I didn’t want to lie to everyone anymore. I was a liar. I felt I had to prove myself by making myself sound better than I was, or that I had the best stuff, or whatever. Then one day, as I was literally backing into a corner due to my lies, I realized that I was so wrong. I didn’t have to prove anything. I didn’t have to make stuff up. I didn’t have to lie to the people around me. I could lean into the One who died to save me from these lies. So I turned my heart, my life over to God, accepting Jesus as my Savior. It’s been a rocky road over the years, as I figured out who I was and why friends my own age hardly ever were great friends. But I tried to always keep my relationship with God at the forefront. Sometimes it wasn’t, but that’s when God would have my “friends” leave and I’d be all alone again. Then I’d turn back to God, ask Him why they left. It didn’t occur to me until much later that He wanted me to Himself so He could help me learn to grow closer to Him. To crave His heart the way He craves mine. I’m probably still not all the way there yet, but I’m trying. I’m reading my Bible, praying, listening, trying to live the way I feel God’s calling me. If I’m wrong, He’ll show me. If I’m doing the right thing, He’ll either encourage me to keep going or remain silent until His plans change for me (or there’s a new step I need to take). I’m learning to trust Him more each day, with everything (past, present, future). It’s been quite a journey, and it’s not over yet. With God all things are possible.
Tricia Goyer says
Andrea, Thank you so much for sharing your story with me! I love getting comments from you! And I love how God is using you to help and mentor kids!
Godly Indian Mom says
Tricia you are one of my most inspiring person :).
I have been a christian all my life,but was truly saved only when I was in college away from my mom,I was terribly homesick as I lived 18 years at home and was very attached to mom.she gave me a Devotional book by Joni Eareckson Tada.and god spoke through that book.Calmed my fears,helped ease my loneliness .And I was amazed that there was a god speaking from inside a book.Actually very shocked!!!
Mary Altman says
. I did not have parents who attended church. I had a Aunt who took me sometimes. I was so very confused by it all. I was afraid of the preacher who yelled. I really didn’t hear what he was saying. Years later I had my own home raising my children and my friends and neighbors would witness to me, share his Love with me, and they did not give up on praying for me. In my dark hour of need alone in my kitchen I cried out in desperation to no one in particular, just a broken woman/mom..and He answered…in a voice so plain to me He said…You can walk with Me…then and there in my kitchen I gave my life to Jesus. He took me and turned me inside out, he is still molding me many years later, I am still a piece of work that he has to smooth the edges on at time. His love is amazing, the love He put in me for others is amazing.
Tricia Goyer says
What a BEAUTIFUL story, Mary!!!
Honestly, I grew up being afraid of God – even resenting him. In my church, it seemed that God was used as a scare tactic. I never really went to Sunday school so, my young mind had to decipher the message that was geared towards adults. I learned what the word wrath meant. But love was another story. I am sure that the pastor talked about love but I did not understand the kind of love God offered.
My thought process was something like this, “so, he sends us here knowing we can never be perfect and then punishes us for not being perfect?” As a child, I never really lived pass that point. Needless to say, I made a decision that when my parents stopped making me go to church, I wasn’t going. I vowed to stay out of his way and hoped that he would be as courteous. From the ages of 16-29 church visits were limited to weddings, funerals and out of respect when I visited friends who made it a household rule.
I have always believed in God; specifically, as a creator – the supreme being. I did not know him as a Father, provider, friend, teacher or savior. And Jesus? I couldn’t fathom. But it is good that my parents followed the instruction to “train up a child in the way he/she should go.” When my life was moving along nicely and doors were opening, but I still felt unfulfilled, it was not into the arms of a stranger nor to an outside vice that I ran to – it was God. He called me, and though I didn’t hear the voice, I felt the pull and, I went to church searching for “something.” There was no wedding or funeral and no friend to hang on to. It was me, myself and my void.
That was about five years ago. Today, I love Him. I am learning still the principle of total trust, unbridled faith and submission. It is still a process and maybe it always will be to some degree, but I love Him. Sometimes we converse, sometimes I over talk and sometimes I do not say enough. I almost never listen. Yet, He has committed unconditional love. And, even when He doesn’t answer – I know that He hears. When His answer is no and I pout? (Yes, I pout) He draws me closer.
Even as I write this, I am a little upset with Him. But, that is a comfort to me because we are in a relationship. Relationships are not always giddy giggles and hearty laughs. Sometimes we cry. But when you are committed and you take a vow for life, you fight for your loved one even when you fight with them. This is my story. I love Him and I am committed.
Tricia Goyer says
Wow, Aimee! This was beautiful written!!!! It brought tears to my eyes. Jesus adores you, and I cant wait to hear where your relationship with Him is going. I understand some of the “fear” too. Growing up our pastor reminded us again and again that if we took communion with any sin that we would face God’s wrath. Up until the last few years I’d get TENSE every time I saw that it was communion. I’d search my heart and make sure I wasn’t missing any sins. But in the sweet way that God works He whispered to my heart and told me that it’s a CELEBRATION! Today I spend my time thanking Jesus and praising Him as communion is being offered up. I’m so thankful that even when man points us in the wrong direction God sets things straight with His love!
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Thank you so much for sharing Beautiful story!!!
MY OWN LOVE STORY