One Womans Story
I am a believer and follower of Christ, and as I recall my first memories as a young child, I remember my strongest heartfelt desire or need, was to be unconditionally loved. I needed the kind of love that does not forsake me when I disappoint, fail, make a mistake or have an accident. I craved a love that would be concerned with helping me to grow in understanding, to choose the right way. I wanted a love affirming me in who I am as an individual created by God for a real purpose. I wanted to be approved and edified in the right paths.
In Search of Fulfillment
My childhood was probably like most, highly lacking in intimacy and communication in any of the above mentioned areas. The environment I grew up in was one where my parents met my basic physical needs, of which I thank God He provided. But beyond that, there was not much guidance or communication or interest taken in us children. Not excusing, but explaining a reason for the lack of real love and genuine concern was because my own parents had their own emotional pain passed down to them. This pain was caused by their own dysfunctional families in which they grew up, lacking in Godly love and concern, magnified even more by alcoholism.
At about 12 years old, I began reading the Bible and I prayed and believed that one day God would surely give me understanding into the deeper meanings behind these Bible stories I read. Somehow I believed that it was only through Him that I would never be disappointed. One of the first things He revealed to me was the 7th day Sabbath. It seemed clear to me that the 7th day was to be honored, but I only knew Sunday-honoring folks and was confused as to why this wasnt being questioned among them. When I reached my early 20s, I understood that what God showed me those many years ago was still true about honoring His Sabbath. I saw what a blessing it is, such a time I look forward to of stepping out of worldly responsibilities and focusing deeply on the things of God and thankful that He is who He is.
As I grew up, I observed no one I knew gave this kind of love consistently or perfectly. I wanted to believe that there was someone capable of treating others with genuine love, as individuals created by God, but everyone fell short, even Christians. I realized my expectations of mankind in our own power had been unrealistic. I saw that I too fell short in being a true lover like God, and saw that only God can truly and perfectly Love. No longer was it about the love everyone owed to me, now I too was a debtor. Now I too saw I needed forgiveness, mercy, grace, understanding, wisdom, faith in God and His ways, strength and courage in Him to respond to His will. I wanted the courage to step out in faith with the love of God established in my heart, to be able to love as He does; without the fear of the receiver rejecting the love I was giving, and becoming disappointed in myself.
As a young person, I was disappointed and angry that my parents did not desire to be genuinely concerned with the growth and development of the children they had wanted. As an adult, I see now that they could not give what they did not have, which was the love of God. I am not saying that God does not love them, He loves us all perfectly! What I am saying is that they have not yet truly known the love that God has for them and rested in it. Nor were they secure enough in His love and sufficiency to be able to give His love to others. I am learning, practicing and experiencing Gods way of life, and walking in the faith of Christ. I depend on His Ways and believe they are good. I try to reject my own carnal understanding. I have found that my need for perfect love is sufficiently provided by God and Christ.
My Life in the Truth
God has planned an amazing life for metimes where I experienced life not looking to God and now live life with God. I thank Him, that I have been given a great gift by Him of being drawn into a relationship ever closer to Him, and seeing now that I never want to be without Him and His Guidance in my life! It is so precious, that once experienced, you never want to go back.
As a young teen, I prayed that He would lead me into seeing His Truth, and that I would choose to obey Him. I prayed that I could find others who agreed with some of the things I held as obvious truths not to be ignored, i.e., honoring Gods Sabbath, and Holy Days, giving Gods Word freely, without cost, to those who desired it, and believing God regarding His health laws. (These are a matter of believing He created our physical bodies and knew what we should put in them. It is believing we should be good stewards of these physical bodies so they may be used to serve Him. We recognize that He gave us this knowledge and that good physical health is a blessing from God.) I believed these truths would link us together and that together we could grow in truth and wisdom.
Well, during my teens, in my room late at night, on my radio I came across a very distant station carrying the World Tomorrow with Herbert W. Armstrong. I felt my prayers had been answered. There were the teachings that I had believed in too! I thanked God and sent away for the literature being offered to help me gain a better understanding. Also I requested that I might attend the nearest fellowship, but it was quite a ways from my parents. Since I was a minor, and the fact that my dad did not approve, I felt I had to wait until I became an adult. I was very excited and looked forward to the day when I could meet others of like mind. Also at that time, I was truly afraid I wouldnt be accepted by the congregation because I felt I had to know everything they taught before I could have fellowship. So, those years, I would read my Bible and some literature from Worldwide Church of God (WCG) and pray for God to lead me into a right relationship with Him, a life full of joy living in Him. I trusted He would ultimately bring me to understanding and willing obedience.
Unfortunately, (or rather fortunately, as God had planned these experiences for my life to lead me into true and intimate relationship with Him), I did not contact WCG for fellowship until I was 24. This was because I still felt I wasnt good enough to go, and I still had the same mistaken idea that I had to know all the truth they held and that I must agree with it before I could fellowship. As you can see, my faith was not in trusting God and making the first step towards trying to fellowship, but I was being hindered because of the lies that Satan used to keep me from meeting with others. I believe God allowed this and used Satan to bring me to the understanding that I should not trust in my own human reasonings. I now understand that I need to detect the anxiety and fear Satan uses to keep us from growing. Instead of supporting the lie, I need to trust God in whatever happens. I must deal with and accept and perhaps even wait, but God will always be with me and teach me in the way that He chooses.
Even yet, I was still not diligent in seeking Gods will first in my life or seeking His Wisdom regarding the paths to take. I was blind to the fact that belief in obedience to Gods ways would give me true happiness and fulfillment. I desired more to believe that I could work out certain areas in my life rather then wholly submit to Gods will. I made these wrong assumptions due to a lack of understanding the magnitude of how much God should influence all my decisions for life. So, in trying to work things out my way for my desired end, I married someone before consulting God on the matter, partly to fulfill the emptiness where God should have been.
I met a wonderful young man at work, who I believed expressed the qualities of Christian character. Although he was not intent on seeking Gods will for his life, he did have the basic belief that there was a God. On Sunday mornings, he would come over and we would watch the World Tomorrow together when Mr. Armstrong was still living. He said he was interested and agreed with some of the things that Mr. Armstrong had to say, and seemed interested in learning more. Well, I loved this man, who was the most wonderful man I have ever met, and all the Godly characteristics he has. I chose to marry this unconverted man and try and fill the void in my life, only to find out later that it is God who can completely fill it.
We have been married for 12 years, and both of us are truly growing in Godly love. We have a good marriage, and I love him. We have very good communication between us and try to meet each others needs as best as we can. We respect our differences and are always learning patience and Godly love and enjoy its fruit. It would be lovely if we both had the same passion for serving and growing in God, but we dont right now, as God has not yet convicted him of his deep need for God, nor the great value in God. However, we are growing because of our communication and willingness to love one another and make our little family a priority over worldly things. I know through Gods blessings on me, we have all been blessed! I do pray now that I will willingly submit to His Will and allow God to lead my life. I have now learned the benefits of trusting God to lead instead of working out my own life.
In my marriage, I have learned many good things, and one of them being I should never place any demands on anyone. I try to love others by building them up in the ways of Christ, and helping them in whatever way would honor Christ. I am serving God to the best He has made me capable of. I am at peace, knowing I am stepping out in prayer and faith to follow His appointed way.
Time with a Corporate Church
Right before our marriage, I felt a great desire to seek fellowship with other believers, as I had no one to talk with about the deep things of God. I felt that lack in my life, and after much prayer, stepped out in faith to meet with WCG ministers and hope for the best, however God would have things turn out. After an enjoyable meeting with these ministers for 3 hours privately, they gave me a long list of literature to read which would answer some of the questions I had. They were excited and told me they hadnt met with anyone for awhile who had so many questions. Yet, when they began to leave, they still had not asked me to come to fellowship. I figured they must want me to read all their literature, and that I had not yet met all the qualifications to attend. I was so disappointed, but by then, I was learning to accept Gods answers because I knew He knew my heart, and He would place me where He wanted me. So, for a couple of months I read the literature, did the correspondence course, kept the Holy Days and Sabbath by myself, and still wanted to attend and be baptized, as I knew I should be. I did go ahead and get married, and to some extent, this made me feel that someone wanted me.
I finally was inspired to once again try to pass the initiation. A different minister and his lovely wife came, and after we talked, I spoke up and asked if I might attend with them. They said yes! I was so happy I couldnt contain it. I asked why I wasnt asked to come before, and they said it was because I myself had not asked to attend. That right there taught me a lesson to go ahead and ask things and deal with the consequences later. I learned that I should never fear and make assumptions as to what might happen. It was once again a learning experience about stepping out in faith, not making assumptions, listening to lies that are programmed into my thinking and being ruled by emotions.
I began attending WCG in 1989, and my husband came with me because of his love for me. I was baptized in 1990 and prayed that God would give me understanding and a heart to follow and please Him and to truly know how to love. As time went on, my husband quit attending with me, and I accepted it knowing his willing heart. After going to WCG, I saw myself becoming indoctrinated with accepting their way of thinking with no questions asked nor answered. I believed I saw in the ministry ungodly attitudes, and a lot of sheep following human shepherds. I saw myself taking on this way of following and going through the motions of religion. I began to see a distance being created between me and my God, and I became very unsettled, uneasy, and just plain uncomfortable. I saw myself as a hypocrite.
Stepping Out in Faith
In the fall of 1992, I began having a deep conviction to seek God with my whole being. I wanted to know the spiritual intent of His will for what a Christian should do and be. I wanted to know how to live for Him, putting on Christ every moment of my life and not relying on letter-keeping to make me right with God.
Looking back now, I see I was hasty in abandoning my fellow believers, but at the time I needed to examine myself and ask for Gods guidance to unravel all these questions and thoughts I had. I knew I needed to detour from the approach I had before of accepting answers by the hierarchy and saying, OK, case closed. I did this without really looking into the questions myself and believing God could also reveal to my mind His truth. I needed to get into the Bible myself and see what Gods Word said for sure about certain rumors and things that I was hearing and being taught, and pray that God would open my mind to His truth. Had I been mature in Christ, I should have questioned those leaders in the church personally and privately and tried to reason together. However, I was just not confident enough in my own beliefs. And at the time I was a very intimidated person who thought others were always right, and I was not.
Thank God, through His Great Power, he has released me from the prison of my mind, and he is maturing me in His love and wisdom. I will not, God willing, take those wrong routes again.
Our Home Fellowship
When I quit attending WCG, I began fellowshipping with a few other brethren who were thinkers also. We have Bible study every Sabbath at one of the homes. I have no affiliation now with any organization, but consider myself to be of the household of God, serving Him wherever and however He will have me. I try to do this every moment of my life, to everyone with whom I have contact.
Our Bible studies are exciting and in depth, as we come together seeking answers to questions we may have, and become more founded in Gods ways. No question is too insignificant or too difficult. We all dig into it and have something to contribute, as each of us read Gods Word regularly. We seek to apply Gods ways, wisdom and lessons to our daily lives. Things are not always perfectly smooth, but we can come together in peace. We can, with Gods Spirit, identify the error of our ways and pray, knowing these infirmities are forgiven. Then the Spirit convicts and identifies our sin and we repent of it. We pray that God will strengthen us in His ways in these weak areas of our lives, so that we do harm no more. I believe that our weaknesses make us crave to be even closer to God, helping us fight the battle against our own carnality.
Lessons Learned About Love
I know we are growing in His Love, we who are blessed and privileged to know and hear and respond to Him in this age. My hope for myself and all mankind is that He will ultimately complete His holy righteous character in every one of us, and I so look forward to that change. In the meantime, I will rest in the goodness of our God and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
I thank God that now He is taking away the pain of needing human love to fill my soul, as He has shown me that His Love is sufficient and fulfilling and that it is in no way lacking for us. I have learned that we cannot demand love from others. I also feel it is Gods desire that we come to know His love and give it to others. I realize He is showing me His love, and that I do not need the love of others to find any value in myself. Even when those who are supposed to love us the most in the world fall short in it, (be it our parents, spouse, friends or ourselves), we must learn that all of us do. I feel God is showing us the great difference between Himself and ourselves.
Through His understanding I know forgiveness, and that when we sin against one another, we know not what we are doing. For if we really and truly were mindful of what sins, terrible effects, and consequences to others were, we would not want to do it. However, we are in this weak flesh, and I believe we were made to know the depths and riches of Gods Love for us as a sinner! But I do believe that God will convict and convince everyone of us in our errors; in His own time will He do it. He will also make every one receptive to know and experience His Love, and we will choose His Ways above our own carnal reasonings.
I would very much like to get to know more believers, to expand my little world. I would love to know others who hold dear the desire to seek Gods Truth and Righteousness expressed in their lives. Even more, I am looking for people willing to love one another, to share, to edify and to be patient with one another in our individual growth. I seek those who respect the unique vessels our God is creating each of us to be for His glory and purpose. I look forward to growing in and experiencing Gods agape love, and be exercised in it, encouraging one another in Christ. This will help us to profit one another to grow in Him as we use whatever talents or abilities with which God has enabled each of us.
My husband has just introduced me to the internet, and the first thing I looked up was Sabbath, which was on a service called Yahoo. I found www.biblestudy.org and from there I found Servants News. I began reading some of the topics covered in the Servants News, and my heart swelled as I had found people who have the same views and attitudes I have. I look forward to getting to know many Servants News readers and to share ourselves with each other to grow in the Lord Jesus Christ!
I am thankful to God and His provision to those of us who are benefited by it. May God guide those who write for Servants News according to His will and bless them for following it.
your sister in Christ in Georgia &