I grew up in the church–this church, Cypress UMC, actually–for 18 years. I went to Wee Wuns preschool, I went through the children’s ministry, sang in the choir (back when it was the F.R.O.G.S. choir and the Gospel Gang), and spent a couple of years in the youth group. But it wasn’t until college, at Texas State University, that God really grabbed a hold of me and made my spiritual life practically unrecognizable compared to the senior in high school who was recognized on “Senior Sunday” right before I hit the road for San Marcos.
Somewhere in the middle of my freshman year, He shook me hard and told me who I am: His, and this life is not mine. He showed me my sins, and held my hand in comfort as He gave me the courage to finally look at the mess I was before I surrendered my life to Christ completely.
It’s strange when I tell people that I grew up in the church, but didn’t understand the gospel until college. They always look at me kind of funny when I explain that I knew and believed that Jesus was born from a virgin, died on the cross for my sins, and rose again after three days, but I never understood the meaning of grace, or mercy, or love, really. I heard about all these things, I could probably define them for you, but I didn’t get it.
I could excuse it by just saying I was too young to understand, or that maybe I didn’t pay enough attention or read my Bible enough, but I don’t think that’s it. I think God meant for it to be that way. I think He has orchestrated every event in my life to happen at the perfect time. And the perfect time for me to grasp the meaning of all those stories I’d always heard, was when I was 19 years old, staring at the lyrics to “The Stand” on the screen during a worship service for Campus Crusade for Christ.
“So I’ll stand, with arms high and heart abandoned, in awe of the one who gave it all. I’ll stand, my soul, Lord, to You surrendered. All I am is Yours.”
I don’t remember if I threw my hands in the air or if I fell to the floor, but tears came streaming down my face and I realized, for the first time, that I needed to die to myself to really live in Christ. And with those tears and realization, came the most overwhelming feeling of joy and peace I have ever felt.
My whole life has been defined by God’s will, whether I have been aware of it or not. And though it’s a struggle to make it my top priority every day, I must “put on the full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10-18) to stay conscious of the way God is working in my life; working against the enemy, working for my good (Romans 8:28), working for my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Sometimes I think, what kind of trajectory would my life have taken if I had known then what I know now? But this is part of my testimony, and I know that God will use my specific story to speak into the life of someone else, like He’s used others’ stories to speak to me.
So I’ll share my story; how God sought me out when I was running away from Him; how He showed me that my existence has a purpose–HIS purpose; how I’ve been crucified & resurrected with Christ, because of Christ; how He took this dirty, unworthy sinner and made me clean and new.
God was always chasing after me, but waited patiently while I ran the other direction because He already had the moment picked out when my life’s trajectory would change. I was His before I ever knew it. Now, I do know it and that will forever be all I am.
Written By: Christie Walker,
Cypress UMC Communications Department