Firsthand Faith [no. 2]

March 6, 2014

There are people in your life you are certain were divinely placed…

So closely related, but rarely crossing paths.  It was during my greatest storm we were purposely connected.     

He said, “Sooo many people are telling the faith stories of other people!!  I need FIRSTHAND FAITH stories to tell my kids and grandkids…”  And it was in that very moment a seed was planted. 

You know, it can be so very difficult for someone to share the gospel.  The fear of rejection, the overwhelming sense of doubt…  The list of reasons can go on and on for not sharing the hope that is within us.  

Around four years ago, I started becoming more aware at the pulling and tugging of the Holy Spirit.  His calling.  This desire to understand obedience and step out on faith became consuming and I no longer could ignore.  As I grew more obedient, Christ drew me closer to His pierced side.   For my entire life I have believed IN God…  I had now come to a place on my journey where I stood on His promises and I BELIEVED GOD. This has made all the difference.  Firmly rooted in His promises… Learning to surrender all To Him… It is as if HE himself  scooped up the dirt, making mud, placing it over MY eyes…  Rinsing away with His living water, allowing me to see.  The most freeing experiences of my life have been in pure obedience to my Lord.  Unsure of this world but faithfully certain of who HE says I am ~ stepping out, (uncomfortably) being RADIANT for Him and sharing my story.  By giving our testimony, telling the story God is giving us ~ through Him, we make the Gospel become real flesh and bones.  Giving the believer hope and encouragement; pointing the unbeliever to Christ, the living Savior.   

In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. || Matt 5:16

Firsthand Faith is where He is taking me…  To encourage others to realize He has given us each our own Firsthand Faith Stories to tell, passing down to our children and their children.  Leaving a legacy of obedience through testimonies of His unending grace, immeasurable love and unfathomable mercy.  I hope the stories you will read here will remind you there is One who restores and redeems.  And, through these testimonies and stories, others may come to know and believe.  Ultimately giving God all of the glory.  I pray their words will reach listening ears and ready hearts.  Please treat them with the utmost respect.  I am grateful and blessed by your obedience to Him to allow me to share here in this space.  May God bless this effort.

Denise’s story…  I have been lost – I have been found.  Being found is so much better, for I have Him – my best friend Jesus, loving me and helping me.  He is my all-in-all.  He is my reason for being; and nothing – not even cancer – can keep me from serving and praising Him! Thank you Lord for loving even me. || Denise Myers

Jeanne’s story… For most of my life I have been all about me, what I wanted and what was good for me at the moment. I claimed to be a Christian, but did not live as a Christian. I knew about God’s grace, but did not claim his grace and forgiveness. I played the game. Then one day about 20 years ago, while at work, God touched my heart and showed me what a sinner I was, I walked down the hall to the restroom at work and fell to my knees, crying and asking for God’s forgiveness. I released myself that day, and experienced Grace. Now I can truly sing:

My chains are gone. I’ve been set free, My God my Savior has ransomed me And like a flood His mercy rains, Unending love, amazing grace.  || Jeanne Carmichael

Carrie’s story… Natalie asked me if I was willing to testify today, could be small, could be big, just have a willing an able heart to do it. I said YES! Then panicked. Was I truly bold enough, on a HUGE scale, to tell about anything, something, God has done for me? Well, Phil 4:13 says I can do all things through Christ, so yes I can be bold enough.
But where do I start? What do I say? There are so many things, how do I narrow it down? Ultimately, I don’t, I let God lead this one and He picked a doozy: shame.

Anyone had to deal with this? Wow, if you have, it hurts way down in the pit of your stomach. That hollow feeling that gapes so wide you wonder how it doesn’t swallow you alive. I had done some beyond shameful things through my late teens and, what felt like, most of my 20’s. I let my body be used for other folks’ pleasure, offered myself to any number of men, and made choices in various intoxicated states that I don’t fully remember, but they were not wise. I glossed all this over after I was renewed in Christ, but it was still living in me, that hollow hole lingering to open and my mistakes, my shame, my desolation be shown to everyone.

I was sweeping the kitchen when that hole inside me opened again. But this time, I heard the most gentle whisper that said, “Let it go, it’s okay. I know it hurts but you have to let Me heal this for you.” I fell on the floor and sobbed until my stomach cramped and I thought I would faint. Years of faces, bodies, lies, drugs all being churned up and one by one by one, being wiped clean. I’ve never felt so bruised and so free at the same time. And then: peace. The most profound silence encapsulated in peace. At that moment, God truly healed me from shame, then He wrapped me up in His peace and filled that hole with His unending, overflowing love. That was about three years ago and I’ve never felt that hole of shame again. God is my Healer, my Fortress, my Tower, and what is the most glorious thing is that He is that to you, all of you. I didn’t even ASK Him to heal me, He saw my agony and adores me enough to make me whole. Thank you, Lord!!! I love you!! Thank you Andy N Natalie Elrod for asking and thank you Jesus for giving me the strength. I pray this falls on ears and eyes that God needs for it to. || Carrie McCarty Copeland

So thankful for women willing to share their stories.  Oh, my heart is full.  Powerful words.  Beautiful stories.  One of my favorite stories of the Bible is the woman at the well.  For me the sweetest part of the story…

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony…  || John 4:39

Will you testify?  Please join us on this Firsthand Faith Series as others boldly and obediently share the stories God is giving them.  I would love to share YOUR testimony here as well…

grateful to be His,

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Author: Natalie

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