Life is messy. Things don’t always go the way we planned and sometimes they go very wrong. We forget that life is even messy for kids. The children in my Sunday School class come from all different backgrounds. Some are homeless at the moment, others have just come out of an abuse shelter, and still others have had to deal with an absent parent. I have kept a prayer journal since I was 12 years old and it was my unique privilege to share my story of how God took my messy life and made it into something for His glory.
I explained that when I was a little girl I had a very unstable family life. My father had a mental illness (schizophrenia) and often made bad choices that caused my parents to fight a lot. Sometimes my Dad would hit my Mom. We moved all around the country looking for a fresh start. We moved from California, to New York, to Maryland, to New Hampshire but our problems followed us. I did not know that much about God, but I knew God loved me. Before bed I would pray that He would give me a stable family life. What happened next did not seem like an answer to prayer. My parents divorced when I was 12 and I didn’t see my Dad very often after that. Both of my parents re-married and my brother and sister and I lived with my Mom so we got a Step-Father and 4 new brothers and sisters. They had a house on a lake and we moved in with them. We started going to church as a family and that was when I asked Jesus to come into my heart and I read the Bible for the first time, cover to cover. God gave me joy in the midst of my pain. He stabilized my family life. He helped me get good grades and gave me a scholarship to Pepperdine University, making me the first person in my family to go to college. I continued to pray for my Dad that Jesus would become real to Him as well. Five years ago, on Valentine’s Day, I got a call that my Dad had died of congestive heart failure, at the age of 56. I had not seen him in 17 years. I was heartbroken but my brother and sister and I arrived at the funeral to find he had an entire church family there who loved him! My prayers had been answered and my Dad had been going to Calvary Chapel in Bozeman, Montana for the last few years of his life. Jesus had changed him too. I could not have foreseen that the messiness of my life would have worked out for anything positive, but by God’s grace, it did.
Science tells us about the natural world. People, rocks, plants, animals- all things inside the universe. God is outside the natural world, since He created the universe. He is supernatural. Just as we cannot use a thermometer to measure weight, we cannot use science to tell us about God, because it isn’t the right tool. The right tools to use to learn about God are Revelation and Testimony. Revelation refers to the fact that God has revealed Himself to us over the last 2,000 years and that revelation is written down for us in the Bible. Testimony refers to human experiences with God which are ongoing, like mine. Before Jesus ascended into Heaven He promised His disciples to send the Holy Spirit who would give them power to be His witnesses throughout the whole earth. When they received His power, their testimonies of what they had seen Jesus do spread throughout the known world. Today, the Holy Spirit rests on everyone who follows Jesus and He gives us power to share our testimonies of what God has done in our lives.
After my story, I gave each of the children a journal to chronicle their own experiences with God. I prayed that they would receive power from the Holy Spirit. My hope is that one day they will pass their stories on to others in their journey toward knowing Jesus.