(I was asked to give my testimony at our monthly Ladies Fellowship meeting.)
In the sense that we have come to think of testimonies, I do not have one. I can honestly say that I do not remember a time when I did not know God.
I do remember when I actually prayed with my mom – I was lying in bed in my little pink bedroom that was in our tiny blue house right here in Moscow. I was afraid of the dark and she told me not to be afraid because God was everywhere. I said He was in my heart too, and she said no He wasn’t, and I prayed on the spot. I was three when that happened – but I am fairly certain that I already loved the Lord and that was just when I made it “official.”
I was baptized when I was five at Laird Park – in the freezing cold water, wearing a short and tank outfit that my mom had sewn for me. It was the same day my brother was baptized, and we arrived with our legs stuck to the brown vinyl seats in the back of our huge old Buick. My mom assisted my Dad in the baptisms – something that still cracks us up when we think of it – but I think it may have been back before we even had elders in our church.
I never rebelled, and neither did my brother or sister. Sure, I can think of times through my young life when there were opportunities to sin in ways that would have destroyed something. Sin that would have clouded my relationship to God and to my family – but I am thankful to say that by God’s mercy I did not fall away. The reality is that through those times I loved the Lord, and I did not desire anything else.
Looking back I see a lot of mercy in my parent’s faithfulness. There was no hypocrisy in our home. My parents talked with us through all kinds of things and the reality of our faith was very obvious in these conversations. Scripture was authoritative over our lives, my parents were in the Word, they submitted their own lives to the Word of God.
In fact most of the trials in my childhood or young adulthood had to do with this. In fourth grade I had friends tell me that they could no longer play with me because my Dad believed in predestination – a hilarious childish outworking of the time that my Dad was becoming reformed. Starting then, I did not really have close friends until high school when some new kids who could handle the idea of predestination came along. I sometimes wondered why the kids in my class wouldn’t be my friends – I felt like I was pretty friendly. But then I would get some kind of an “invitation” into something that repulsed me, and I would not wonder any longer. Like the time when a boy who wasn’t a believer was “inviting” me (lucky me!) to be his #1. It couldn’t have been clearer when those kind of things happened how much I loved my family. The raspberries were blown with a strength that surprised even me.
By this point in my story I am sure that you are all ready to hear about my incredible self righteousness or closet sin of some kind. And there wasn’t any. Obviously I sinned and struggled along like any Christian, and like I still do, but I did not at any point get eaten alive by sin, public or private. I did not come back to the Lord dramatically at any time because I was His all along.
But what is the point of a testimony? Especially this kind?! A testimony is a witness account. It is the word of a person about what they have themselves witnessed. This is the humbling part of my story – this is the part that chokes me up and wrings my heart. I know that you could hear what I have already said as arrogant, like I haven’t struggled enough or hurt enough, or needed Jesus enough. But I want you to listen, because this is beautiful and terrifying and bittersweet and glorious all at the same time. And I want you to hear it because it is precious to me, and because it is precious to God.
Every day when I drive my kids to school we drive past a little strip of grass behind the Kibbie Dome and beside the old arboretum, where the sunsets look hot and the shadows make the hills look like velvet – and as we pass that spot my kids sometimes yell, “There’s where Nana became a Christian!” My mother – a miserable college student trying to make sense of her life sat down there and prayed with a letter from her sister in her hands. A few days later she met my Dad’s parents – in her quest to get her first Bible and go to her first terrifying Bible study. There – on that little strip of sunny grass, my physical life as well as my spiritual life began. All of us who have faith have it as a gift – and how humbling it is to know that the very fact of your faith, as well as your life, is part of God’s faithfulness to others.
My Grandpa Jim gave us all Valentines roses this year, my girls too, and in his very formal but increasingly shaky hand, right before he signed off, he wrote, “You are part of Exodus 20:6, ‘But showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.'”
My faith is a story of faithfulness – the faithfulness of our God. It is a story of God doing what He promised He would do. My life and my faith and my prayers for my children are all part of a beautiful and intricate story of God’s faithfulness to His people.
From the place that God has put me in this story, I have a pretty good short-range view. I know I am here because God is keeping His promise to a motherless Canadian girl who went forward at a tent revival. I know, because the man she married wrote it to me on a Valentine’s card, and he has asked God to keep those promises. I know that I am here because of God’s love for a Wyoming socialite and a stubborn California boy. We drive by the house where those two accepted Jesus shortly after my mom did. I know that My life now is part of the love that God has for them – part of His faithful love towards His people.
And further back too – I have a ruby ring that I am the fifth generation to wear. The gold on the sides is worn down on the band because it was worn next to a wedding ring for so many years, right next to vows that made my life possible. And I will see all five of those women in heaven. I think of their hands – working for their families and the kingdom. I think of the prayers in their hearts, because some of them had unbelieving children, or husbands.
My faith is not mine, but His. How then could my life be mine and not His? My faith is nothing but a weak reflection of the faithful love of God, poured out through generations. How many times in our family line did people think that God was not hearing them? How many heartaches were there? How many times did fear overshadow faith, or was worry bigger than hope? And yet God was faithful. He shows His love to a thousand generations.
Sometimes this kind of faith makes us uncomfortable. We would like to see a little more desperation, or a little more flash, even those of us who believe that God shows covenant kindness – we who baptize our children in infancy with a faltering faith. I recently saw an article about how to know if your children are simply borrowing your faith. It made some good points about wanting your children to be asking questions – but it has this horrible overarching assumption that each person’s faith has nothing to do with the faith of their parents, as though our faith is supposed to spring out suddenly and live only in us. But the reality is that I haven’t borrowed my parents’ faith, but I share it. Because our faith is not ours, but rather the faithfulness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This passage is a beautiful portrait of this very thing:
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day (2 Timothy 1:8-12).
25 thoughts on “My Testimony”
A wonderful testimony.
Beautiful! Thank you for sharing.
My name is Jennifer, and my husband and I live in WA state. He is a pastor of family ministries at a local church while I stay at home with our two little girls, ages 2.5 and just turned 1. I’m writing to ask you a very large question. I apologize for doing it here…I tried sending a message on FB and I don’t think it worked, and I didn’t know how else to contact you!
At the beginning of January, we found out we were expecting our third little one. Yesterday, we found out that actually, we’re expecting our third AND fourth. Yep, twins. And like you experienced, when these two little ones are born (most likely in September since my due date is October 8th), my oldest will be under 3.5 (our second will be about 19 months). The Lord is wise and good and He knows what is best. And I have NO IDEA how we’re going to do this. I was wondering if you had any twin advice, specifically doing twins with two other very young little people at home.
Blessings on you and your family. I have both of your books and have enjoyed them immensely. And I can pretty much promise to be rereading them in the next six months. 🙂
What an encouragement to the body of Christ. Thanks Rachel
Hi Jennifer! I did just get your message on facebook and I will message you back soon! But in the meantime, big time congrats!
I am crying! So grateful for this kind of testimonies, because it is the kind of testimonies that our children and our children’s children will tell. God is faithful indeed!
This starts very much the same way my testimony would. I remember when my college pastor asked me when I became a Christian. I replied that I didn’t remember a time when I didn’t love the Lord but that I was baptized at age 11.
I remember my moment with my mother and asking what else I needed to do…did I need to cry, because that’s what everyone else did? I believed!
Thanks for sharing this. Generational blessings are an amazing thing to see.
We were JUST talking with our 9 and 10 year old daughters about this topic at dinnertime. We were discussing how gracious God has been to save them at a young age and how amazing it is that they didn’t have to spend decades searching for things that will never satisfy or substitute for the joy found in Christ. My husband and I pray that all seven of our children will experience that same blessing of being saved at a young age.
Thank you so much for taking the time to write your posts. As a busy mom I know that it is a sacrifice for you to write down what God is teaching you and while I don’t have a lot of spare time to read, I always make time to read this blog. It has blessed me so much!
Just a side note to the above commenter Jennifer, we have a lot in common. We are in WA state as well, and had 5 biological children when we found out about the need for families to adopt domestically. We had a whirlwind summer that started in June and ended in August when our twins were born. Everything happened much sooner than we ever imagined and when they were born our older three children were 9, 8 and 6 years old, and our youngest four were just the ages you are describing you will have…3 yrs 4 months, 19 months and newborn boy/girl twins! 🙂 It’s amazing and exhausting and amazing and exhausting! You will survive and you will experience God’s grace in the daily mundane aspects of your life like never before. And you will feed your family hot dogs for dinner often. Or maybe you won’t, but I sure do! 😉 If you need any encouragement you are welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Congratulations! What a sweet gift for your children to be so close in age – they will reap the benefits of that for a lifetime!
Thank you for this testimony. It is encouraging to read and gives me hope that our work as parents is not in vain. I hope my children will have this kind of testimonies. I often feel alone even among believers with my approach to address sin and lead my children to the cross rather than just fixing behavior issues… the Lord took me out of a pit of anger, frustration and self pity and changed my own heart about 9 months ago and gave me a vision how to raise my kids in His way! I am a beliver for over 15 years but when it came to discipline and parenting I was brought to my limits. I had to be broken first so he could his job in me. When I applied what He gave me, my 4 year old daughter changed immediately and i believe she is saved, she invites Jesus in her heart often and loves to praise him, ‘because when we sing i can feel jesus come to my heart’ she says. Some days she announces ‘today i will obey you, because that’s what Jesus likes.’
I love the way God has given you wisdom concerning children. Although I haven’t read your books, I would love to read them for sure. Also I have written a book recently on pregnancy titled – It’s Your Turn for a Beautiful Pregnancy . The website is http://www.beautifulpregnancy.net . I wanted to send you a digital version of the book. At what emai I’d can I send?
Beautiful, Rachel. I am rereading Standing on the Promises right now and our book group, on it, meets in a half hour. How fun to hear this, this morning!
Hi Rachel! My mom and I have been reading Femina for years and years and are so blessed by every post, including this one! I’m going to be attending New Saint Andrews in the fall, and I’ll probably be going to Christ Church as well. However, I was raised a Baptist, and so were my parents, so we don’t totally understand Covenant theology. So we have a doctrinal question: How is it that a person can be born into the family of Christ? Like I said, we’re Baptists, so we’re among those who believe that each person comes to Jesus on their own, with nothing but the grace of God. We know that our parents can evangelize us (like my parents have), but the parent’s faith can’t actually SAVE a child, can it?
Thanks for the comment! I also was raised Baptist 🙂
Just a couple quick things, and then I really would recommend that you read Standing on the Promises for a fuller treatment of covenantal theology
1) I absolutely believe that we go to heaven or hell in ones. My standing before God is that I am clothed in the righteousness of Christ and not that i am wearing some kind of family name badge. The faith of my parents is not what saves me – because their faith is in Christ alone, as is mine. Christ alone saves us, and Christ alone saves us individually.
2) That said, if we are obeying scripture and our children grow up knowing and loving the Lord we may not have the opportunity to see a moment of transformation in them – and that is ok. As my Dad says, you don’t have to see the sunrise to know that the sun is up. Presuming that your children are saved because you are is a terrible pit to fall in, but so is presuming them to be damned when you have prayed with them, taught them, and worshipped with them since their birth. In this case many parents doubt all the fruit they see and harp on all the sin – many times successfully driving their children away in doubt.
3) As for the last comment – no, my parent’s faith is not what saved me. But Christ saved me and their faith is in Christ. At no time in the whole operation was it our works (theirs or mine) – but Christ himself.
Praise the Lord for His faithfulness! As a first generation Christian with a “flashy” testimony, this is so encouraging! I pray that my girls will never know a day apart from Him.
“But the reality is that I haven’t borrowed my parents’ faith, but I share it. Because our faith is not ours, but rather the faithfulness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
I love this! Thanks for sharing.
As someone who still bears scars from the life lived before the “flashy” testimony, I can tell you with full assurance: people like me need to know of God’s goodness and faithfulness in testimonies like yours. It is my wildest dream that my children would grow up in a steady faithfulness before the Lord, knowing His goodness day in and day out, yes with bumps and sins along the way like anything else, but conspicuously absent of any sensational, ‘radical’ interventions. As a first generation Christian, your testimony gives me hope for my young family. Thanks for posting!!
I know your grandfather. He once tolda lecture i attended that Jonathan Edwards and his wife used to pray for descendants not et born. Your grandfather said that, on three separate occassions, he met distant descendants. All professed Christ and stated that all relatives they knew of did likewise.
Beautiful! I have a similar testimony, though I think I was 7 when I was baptized. :). A song that will always bring me to tears and that I want played at my funeral is “Great is Thy Faithfulness”. He’s so faithful!
Rachel, it was so good to read your testimony. Sandy and Chelsea, hang on to this: “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call”(Acts 2:39).
Amen to that 🙂 Thanks!!
That predestination comment was hilarious! Dr. Knox Chamblin was once accused of believing “whatever will be will be.” His response was, “What do you believe, ‘whatever will be won’t be?'”
Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful and music to my soul. Thank you.
Thank you, this is a gift! My parents are both first generation believers as is my husband-he is the only believer (as far as he knows) in his entire family. This is an encouragement for us to press on and pray for the future generations, especially our three children.
Speaking of those little blessings, I have a 3 yr old and also have twins who are 1.5 right now. The twin comments above reminded me that I have yet to find many good christian resources recounting how they got through biblically parenting twins and their siblings! Maybe it could be a future blog post Rachel? 🙂 Loving the Little Years is a great inspiration, as was the post on “no flopping,” but how on earth did you handle two flopping tantrums at once? My oldest was 2 when the twins were born so I feel like we probably missed a lot of good training opportunities, and now that the twins are showing their sin nature more and more, I feel like I can’t keep up! Any practical wisdom would be helpful on how to deal with those obedience issues when two are happening at the same time. We really want our children (and theirs) to know and love Jesus and have a testimony like yours some day but during those tantrums I feel like they will never even learn to obey me.
Oh, how I just love this…thank you SOOO much for sharing!!!
Unfortunately, I do have a “dramatic” conversion. I hesitate to share my testimony in a group of believers that is sharing sometimes for fear that others may say theirs is “boring” after hearing mine. I have heard that over and over, and it makes me SO sad. Seriously, God was SO not pleased with my life before my conversion, and I was a pretty extreme person, so I think He chose extreme measures for me.
My husband and I talk often about how encouraged we are by your family. We are raising our own little ones (five so far) and desire so greatly for our children to walk in God’s ways all their life, so that they too don’t remember a time they didn’t believe. I was not raised the way we are raising our children, and neither was my husband to a lesser degree, so we are walking a new path in our family legacy. I still struggle a lot in ways related to my pre-Christ days, and while I am humbled daily by this, I pray for and labor toward a new legacy for my children…one of faithfulness which you describe. I am so, so grateful for a faithful, loving Father who shows us His ways in His living word!
Anyway, sorry to ramble…just wanted to express gratefulness for your testimony of Christ’s work in your life, and for the hope I have based in His word as well for a true, life-long faith for each of the blessings He has given in my life.