God never promises us a life without trials. In fact, James even tells us that we should “consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3 To say that Greg and I have had our faith tested over the last few months would be the understatement of the year. Being a Christian doesn’t mean we are exempt from the devil’s schemes. In fact, I think being a Christian makes us even more desirable to the devil. He desires to tear us down, to weaken our faith, and lead us down paths of destruction. If we are not diligent about continually building and fostering the relationship we have with God by being in His Word daily and through prayer, we can easily be deceived by the devil’s schemes. And before we know it, we may find ourselves down a path of destruction and sin, wondering how we got so far from the true path of righteousness. But it doesn’t mean God gave up on us. He never gives up on His children. If we simply open our eyes to our own sins, and seek God’s instruction, He will lead us out of the darkness and back into His light. Like a shepherd who seeks and finds a lost sheep, so does our God in our times of trouble. And just as the father who rejoices over the return of his prodigal son, so God rejoices when we come back to Him with a repentant heart.
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. -James 1:12
I have faced trials of many kinds, and God has pulled me from the depths of my sin and I can honestly say today I feel closer to God than I have in a long time, maybe even ever. God has also been working in Greg over the last few months, testing his faith and producing perseverance. We can see God’s work in our marriage as boldly as if it was written in black and white. I always wondered when people said, “God told me this” or “I knew God was telling me such and such” what that really meant? I always felt like I had a hard time distinguishing if I was really hearing God’s commands or just my own thoughts. How would I know it was from God? Well, I can assure you that if you dive into His word, it is much easier to know what God is trying to tell you. I began reading through Proverbs, and it was like every chapter had clear instructions on how I needed to change my life. And here’s something else. In Sunday school about a year ago, our teacher gave all us ladies the book The Power of a Praying Wife, by Stormie Omartian. And I took it home and never read it. Well, a few months ago, I decided to start reading this book and HOLY CRAP! It was like God breathed every word into this book just for me and what seemed to be random topics for each day of prayer, God absolutely orchestrated it so that our lives perfectly lined up with the specific prayers I would read that day. I wasn’t even reading it every single day. Sometimes I would skip days (usually on my early mornings of work). But every chapter I read was EXACTLY what I needed to hear that day. I have never been more convinced of God’s direction in my life. Praise Jesus for his many blessings!
Like I said, Greg has been discovering his own journey as well. We both grew up going to church, and we’ve been going to church together ever since we started dating. We’ve been involved in a newly-wed Sunday school class since about our 1-year anniversary. We even went to Israel with several other couples from our class last summer and walked where Jesus walked. But something still kept us from really engaging in our spiritual walks with one another. We sort of just had our own walks separately, and didn’t really share them with one another. Maybe out of fear or our own insecurities, I’m not sure. But when God begins testing your faith, dramatic things can happen. God can use anything for His own good and glory. Even our sin. And I don’t believe that God purposely allows things to happen that cause us to sin (that’s called temptation, and that’s the devil’s work), but He can take those circumstances and work in us for His glory. God has done some amazing things in our marriage over the past few months. Where we didn’t even see struggles, God has opened our eyes. Greg and I have opened up a lot more about our faith and our walk with God. We read the Bible together (I know, it’s really sad that we didn’t do that before). We pray together. We quit letting fear control our pursuit of God’s plan for us.
About a month ago, during Sunday morning service, Greg felt called to come forward and commit himself to baptism. It was a desire he shared with me sometime last summer, but beyond that one conversation, we never talked about it again. He had been “sprinkled” as a child in church along with everyone else his age at a certain time. But now his relationship with God has deepened and he better understands His purpose in this life, and to show his faithfulness to God he wanted to be baptized by immersion. And this past Sunday, we celebrated his baptism. We were so blessed to have several friends and family come witness his baptism. His good friend John from Kentucky even drove down for the weekend. We are truly blessed with wonderful friends who are there for us when we need them! After the service, a big group of family and friends went to lunch together. It was a dreary raining day, but we were filled with joy in our hearts.
Below is the video I took of the baptism. Each participant gives a small testimony prior to their baptism, so you can hear Greg’s story as well. I am so happy to call this man my husband. My appreciation for him has grown tremendously over the past few months, as well as my love for him. I pray God continues to do great work in us as we continue to seek Him.