Jane’s Three Cross Testimony
Isaiah 53:6 says: “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, everyone, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
For me my spiritual journey in Christ began when I was 9 years old. I was at a friend’s church one Sunday morning and after the message on going to heaven or hell the minister gave a call to repentance, to receive Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. My friend and I went forward to receive Jesus as Savior. I felt good about it but didn’t know much of anything else about what really took place. “I was going to heaven,” Amen. I went on about my life without any real instruction about spiritual growth until I was 21 years old. I was not living a Christian life and was hanging out with a rough group of like-minded people. I was not giving any thought to living for anything or anyone but myself, to get my needs met. I was very unhappy, empty, and looking for love and acceptance; but I wasn’t finding it.
My mother was quite concerned about my lifestyle and arranged for her friend and daughter to have dinner with us. They came and shared some of the Word of God and invited me to a prayer meeting. I remember thinking, What do I have to lose? My life is headed nowhere anyway… I went to this prayer meeting and the Word of God came alive. I didn’t realize how hungry I was for the Word of God and the truth. They invited me to attend for 4 weeks, and I was soaking up the Word like a sponge.
Romans 12:1-2 says: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
By the end of the fourth week of attending this prayer meeting, at 21 years of age, God sent another person into my life that invited me to a Christian play. I remember once again there being an invitation to salvation and to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ.
This time I realized it wasn’t just about going to heaven, it was about actually knowing JESUS personally. I made the decision to follow Jesus with my whole heart. My life began to change immediately. I no longer wanted to do the former things, and was now aware of displeasing Him. I learned about how not to conform to this world and how to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. I immersed myself with like-minded people and never looked back at my old life.
For many years I felt loved and free from my former life, but I still at times wondered, Is there something more than just trying to live up to everyone else’s expectations on how to live the Christian life? It seemed that I would never get it right. I finally decided to search out some answers on my own. I decided to make room in my life for becoming my own person and quit performing for everyone else. When I was young my parents were my source of life and they led, shaped, and cared for me and made my decisions for me–as did anyone else who was in an authority position. Just as I rebelled from my parents control I was now in a sense rebelling and decided to become my own source of life. I would need to grow up and make my own decisions, I started down a road of self discovery and self sufficiency which led me to counseling and different recovery groups. I dealt with resentment, anger, fear and was freed from a chronic stomach ache I’d had for six years. I struggled with the sin of perfectionism for years and was getting really tired of wandering around trying to fix myself. But God had not given up on setting me free. So at this time He knew I was ready to not just surrender my life, but to Identify with Christ in His death, burial, resurrection and ascension.
Galatians 2:20 says: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
At this time I’m 61 years old and have been living as a Christian for 40 years. I had learned much about God my Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. I also learned about Spiritual Gifts, the Fruit of the Spirit, and about Spiritual Warfare. I learned the Holy Spirit as my comforter and helper and the one who convicts me. The one thing I hadn’t learned was how to put it altogether to walk in victory on an ongoing basis, because I was working in my own strength and self sufficiency. So once again God intervened and orchestrated a set of circumstances that would bring me to the end of my own strength.
My Husband and I moved to Tennessee, left all my friends and support group and church. The next month I moved my mother here as well, but she died three weeks later. The next month (November, 2016) we lost our home to the Gatlinburg wildfire. It was a horrific escape and total loss of everything we owned. A lifetime of pictures and mementos were all gone except what pictures I had on my phone.
I sought out a grief share group where someone gave me the name and phone number of the next person God was about to use. This person would share with me the message that would bring a lifetime of performance and self sufficiency to an end. What I learned was that I wasn’t just saved to go to heaven, and I didn’t just surrender my life to a new way of life, but I had the opportunity to exchange my current life for a new one! This would entail denying self and allowing Christ to live through me.
This process was through Grace Fellowship International, an Exchanged Life Counseling ministry. They specialize in sharing the rest of the Gospel that a lot of Christians never encounter. You see, I believe that when the student is ready the teacher will come, and I was ready to learn from my next teacher that God would become my very source of life (John 15:1-8).
I continue to learn that it is no longer I that live but allowing Jesus Christ to live his life through me. For this to take place I have to get out of the way and allow Him to use me and my personality to carry out His plan for my life and to minister to others. This has proved to me that my God shows up in His strength and wisdom when I depend on Him. I believe that I am now free to live and minister to others as Jesus leads.
I can see the benefit of sharing these truths from God’s Word so that others can understand there is much more awaiting them because they were created for so much more. Because of my journey, I feel God wants me to share and give others hope. They don’t have to live a defeated life but can experience victory when they cooperate with him in his death, burial, resurrection and ascension. Because he now lives within us, we can let him live through us to bring others into the fullness of God’s Kingdom!