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Raised in the Church – But Lost

By Lauren Easterly

GOD loves me and Jesus was crucified because of me. He redeemed me and rescued me from myself and my ways. I am so amazed of HIS love for me, even when I was lost. HE was always there and HE never gave up on me, in spite of my shortcomings. I was born and raised in the Bible Tabernacle. I guess you would say that I had a normal “Christian childhood”; God was in my home, I knew all about him, we read the bible and went to church. I knew that God loved me. I sang Jesus Loves Me in Sunday school. I said my prayers before bed and before meals; in my mind that was a prayer life, right? I was wrong.

When the teenage years came, I changed. Well, I didn’t really change. I never actually knew GOD. There was never a personal, one-on-one relationship with HIM. My teenage years merely brought to light that my flesh was on the throne and that I was blind to GOD. All I cared about was my standing in this world. I wanted the friends, nice clothes, and I wanted to be the “life of the party.” I had no conscience of GOD. I drank alcohol, using it to be FREE; I didn’t realize that it was only holding me down. I couldn’t see that by gratifying my flesh, I had turned my attention to the things of the world and was turning away from GOD. On Friday night I was normally busy drinking or doing something that made me feel “happy” and by Sunday morning I had my Church Face on. I sat at the front of the church. I sang in the choir. I would lift my hands and worship the LORD. The reproach that I was never crossed my mind. It was like I was two different people; one person at church and another one as soon as I walked out the church door. Only I wasn’t two different people. I didn’t have split personalities. I was me pretending to be a Christian, I wasn’t a follower of GOD. I was a sinner following my wants. At church I would just try to cover up the real me and hide things in my life. I always thought that living this way was okay as long as nobody knew and I didn’t get caught.

I tried to hide everything from my parents, the elders and anyone else that would confront me. I wanted everyone to view me as a good girl who loved GOD. I never thought about the simple fact that GOD knew, HE knows everything, HE is always there. I remember so many times an Elder would get up and express a concern or burden for the young people; my stomach would drop and my heart would beat so fast that I thought it was going to beat out of my chest. This panic would come over me, OH NO, what did someone see me doing, was I caught? Most of the time the concern would actually be about another situation completely. Looking back I see that during those times of panic, GOD was speaking to me, trying to get my attention, only I rejected it. In the back of my mind I would always think, sin now and repent later. I was so blind.

Then it happened: HE got my attention. HE reached down and my eyes began to open. That was one of the best nights of my life. It’s crazy, according to this world what happened to open my eyes was a tragedy, but in GOD it was awesome. HE allowed me to get so low and when I thought this is it, the worst of the worst, HE put his arms around me, in spite of me, my failures and my past, HE saved me. GOD singled me out, HE dealt with me, had been trying to all along, but I was too blind to see - then BAM, it hit me. I remember the counseling session my parents and I had with the Elders from church. I had to confess what had happened, this was definitely something that needed to be addressed in a serious way, not something to be shared around the dinner table. I pretty much cried the entire time. I distinctly remember one of the Elders hugging me at the end and telling me, “I love you, but most importantly GOD loves you.” All I could do was cry harder. Thoughts raced through my mind, how could HE love me? Look at my past, all that I’ve done, why would GOD love me? But HE did, and HE does, HE allowed me to go through things to show HIS love for me. “FOR WHOM THE LORD LOVETH HE CHASTENTH, AND SCOURGETH, EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVETH.” Hebrews 12:6.

I know that I am not worthy of HIS love, but I know that because of HIM I am saved. HE washed all my sins away. I am forgiven, regardless of me. There was a change that began to take place, not something over night. One song we sing, “Little by Little, HE’s changing me...” explains it all. I began to feel convicted when I messed up. I know that part of serving the Lord is to die daily. We will continue to mess up; but the LORD will continue to redeem us. When I think back on who I was before the LORD saved me, it’s like I have done a 180 that is only because of HIM. I also know that GOD used prayer warriors to help me come to know HIM, and I know without GOD using them and their prayers I would not be here today. I thank GOD so much for HIS faithfulness to me. I don’t choose to define myself as a “Christian.” I believe that word is a little abused, after all, I abused it, instead now confident in my GOD, I choose to declare that I AM A CHILD OF GOD, I CHOOSE TO LIVE MY LIFE TO SERVE HIM.

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