I had a vest full of Awana badges and shelves full of trophies because to a very young me, Christianity seemed pretty automatic.
My name is Melissa, and I want you to know that even now I am amazed that I am writing this. That I have a testimony. That of all the skeptics, the cynics, the educated scoffers, the Democrats (that’s right, I said it) – that Christ chose me. Broke me. Ripped my pride, my objections and my sense of self out of me and replaced them with His love and His purpose.
What a God we serve.
The majesty of His power is beyond understanding, and those He chooses are chosen to defy the obvious. When Christ called the 12, they were by the world’s standards an absolute laughing stock. He did not choose the pure or upstanding; He chose uneducated fishermen, thieves, murderers, and a tax collector, and through them He changed the world. He healed the sick and raised the dead. He made it clear that He had no interest in a flowing résumé, and in spite of their pasts He made them prophets. Witnesses. Examples.
“For God does not call the qualified, but qualifies the called.”
My story begins as many of ours do, with a stable childhood foundation in Christ. I had a vest full of Awana badges and shelves full of trophies because to a very young me, Christianity seemed pretty automatic.
Upon the arrival of adolescence, however, I was filled with nothing but questions and doubt. I felt that growing up, I never really had a choice in following Him; my decision hadn’t been informed. I needed to know what else was out there and why Christianity was so much better than every other religion. And in that nasty little word, Christ was lost completely. By attempting to outline and justify religion, I was leaving God completely out of the equation.
Because a relationship with Christ has absolutely nothing to do with religion. It never has.
My life was changed while I was sitting next to a pool in my apartment complex, reading “Not a Fan” by Kyle Idleman. I was at the point in my life where I was certainly not a Christian, but I was turning over rocks to see if I could find anything interesting. I had recently pulled an “operation evac” [he left a smiling girlfriend, went to work, and came home to an empty apartment and a note] with a violent guy I thought I was crazy about and turned to house church for healing. As I was reading this book I was sleeping with a friend of mine for comfort, drinking all the time and in absolutely all aspects not living in a Christ-like manner. As I read the chapter where it goes through the crucifixion and the sacrifice – the story I’d heard and read a million times – I started weeping. I felt completely saturated by His love for me, by His grace…by the fact that He had seen me in my nastiest moments and loved me beyond all understanding in those moments, as He had before I even existed. Despite the fact that I was intent on running away, scraping my knees, attempting to be self-sufficient, He is relentless. Unstoppable. Constant in His pursuit. And He will never grow tired of chasing me, He will never run out of love for me, and He would not rest until I was in His arms. And in a moment alone, by my pool, I let Him have me. I was baptized a month later in front of at least 50 friends and family.
I am redeemed.
By accepting Christ, so much more of my life fell into place. In Him, I truly found my purpose and myself. So many of us spend our entire lives in the quest for meaning and relevance, and there could be no higher calling than to serve the Creator of the universe. So often I feel surrounded by people living in slow motion, working jobs they hate to further the agendas of companies that don’t care for them; I felt like there must be more to life than running the hamster wheel until our hearts stop. When I stopped putting so much emphasis on my résumé defining me and instead began defining myself through Christ, I have never felt more free. I don’t need to prove my worth to the world around me. I am already spoken for.
My relationship with Christ is a living thing with highs and lows. I still often lose the battle with temptation, but I remind myself constantly that I am His and that I am saved by His grace, even in my weakness. He will never let me go, and He has a clear purpose for my life. I have talked about the love of Christ behind a cigarette or with a drink in my hand, because I feel there is power in showing others that Christ’s love was hardly reserved for the saints. We are saved by His grace and His grace alone. A grace I could not be more thankful for.
Author: Melissa Markham