Yesterday Pastor Ken and I were discussing just briefly the book he had just lent me, Under the Unpredictable Plant, by Eugene Peterson, and how Peterson emphasizes the Psalms and their usefulness in prayer. Because of the book, I have been reading more in the Psalms than usual, and I hope to make this a continual habit. So this morning, with the Bible open to Psalms, I was reading, and stopped to think about this coming Sunday. We are going to be interviewed for membership in the church, and so that involves giving our testimonies.
I have had opportunity to give mine a couple of times lately, only to Christians, which isn't quite as fruitful, it would seem, as to unbelievers. Still, I always think it's encouraging to hear how God worked in the heart of someone to bring them to submit to Jesus' lovingkindness. Both times, lately, telling it moved me to tears. I am in awe of how God used just enough awareness of what He was doing to let me know to come to Him. I always think of it as similar to a spider's filament of webbing--you could totally miss God's calling, but some shimmer in the right light catches your vision and you realize it's there, shining and mysterious. That's how God's work in my life seems in retrospect. I didn't even know the gospel. I was unaware of the knowledge of any Bible verses, though there were some kicking around in my head. I knew only that I had to give my life for His, but I had no knowledge of what that meant. I was taking it literally. I was trying to figure out what I had and whether it was something I could give away when I didn't know what I was getting in return. I am not sure at all how I knew the tiny amount I thought I knew.
I didn't know Jesus is God. I didn't know that I had to confess that I was a sinner, though when I discovered that later, there was no hesitation in doing so. I didn't know that He stood ready to forgive me my sins. I didn't know what I'd get in return when I gave up my life. I didn't know the Old Testament from the New Testament. I had never owned a Bible. I had been part of a church for four years, but they didn't really teach the Scriptures or the gospel. Growing up, I'd been in a church about three times. When I met Gary I confessed that, thinking he'd be shocked since his dad was a pastor. I was relieved when he didn't care, saying that he didn't go to church either. When I came to Christ at 29, I can only say that it was like jumping off a cliff into the big dark unknown. I didn't know where I would fall, and what into. I can well imagine how the Israelites felt at the shore of the Red Sea with the Egyptians in hot pursuit!
So this morning, I was in tears again, thinking of God's great mercy, of how He could shine through the dark ignorance of such an unbeliever as I was, and draw me through into His beautiful light. And I read Psalm 103, and it starts, "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities; Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit; Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle..." Amen, amen. Hallelujah, Amen!