About a month ago, I shared with my church my testimony. The weeks leading up to me sharing my testimony, I kept thinking, “What is my testimony? What’s special about my story that needs to shared?” and the most important question was, “Why do I follow Jesus?” Here’s my testimony…
Hello. My name is Kathryn, officially and “Katie” unofficially. The meaning of Kathryn is “pure,” but I’m here to tell you that my life hasn’t always been “pure”… I have a confession … I’m a sinner. I know that’s a total shock to… no one. Because we are all sinners, but we have a perfect God that loves us, even when we turn our backs on Him. A couple weeks ago, I was asked to come before you and tell you why I follow Jesus. In order to tell you why I follow Him, I need to tell you my journey in this thing we call life. It all started when I was baptized, not only once, but twice, once in a Catholic church (not by my choice) and once in a Church of Christ (by my choice). I remember being a little 8 year old and wanting a relationship with God. I had gone to church all my life, but really wanted a close relationship with God. I remember thinking if I had bad thoughts that I couldn’t ask for forgiveness, because I wasn’t baptized. But what I didn’t know was that God was with me all the time, I just needed to commit my life to Him, through baptism. I vividly remember the second time I got baptized and the moment I came out of the water. My mom asked me, “Katie, how do you feel?” I responded with, “I feel brand new.” Which I really did, because I knew in that moment I was a new person and the old “me” was gone. But let me go back to what I said about me not being pure. Just because I was a “new” person through Jesus, didn’t mean that temptations weren’t lurking around every corner. Satan still exists, even when you’re on top of the world.
Soon after I got baptized, I went through some rough waters, but God was with me. My mom’s best friend Dee, which was like a second Dad to me, passed away. He was such a fun person that I admired greatly. When he passed away, it rocked my world. I would be standing in the shower, crying out his name, wishing he wasn’t gone. Then just a short time later (10 weeks to be exact), my mom’s mother, my Meme, passed away from heart failure. Meme was such a bright light in my life and my world was rocked more. You might be thinking, well, how did she come back from this? Well, Jesus was there to guide my Mom through this difficult time, as well myself. Without God guiding us through this time, it would’ve been harder to come back from that dark spot in our lives. Do we still miss them? Yes, but having faith that we will see them again one day, makes every day a little easier. Why do I follow Jesus? Because he died, for my sin, your sin, everyone’s sin, so that we can live with Him and our loved ones for eternity.
I’m going to fast forward a little bit to the time when I was in my early teen years. I was experiencing a lot of changes. It was during this time that I realized I was a sinner. There was a battle going on inside of me between good and evil and I am glad to say that God allowed me to live through the sins of my youth, even though there were times my mom wanted to kill me. Now, I know my walk with Jesus is a journey until I die. Why do I follow Jesus? You see, God takes the ashes of what we once were and helps create something new and beautiful. Our story isn’t over yet, we’re still all works in progress, people under construction.
Now, I’m taking you on a journey to a time where I felt at my lowest and highest ALL at the same time. It was the morning after I graduated high school. A bunch of us had spent the night at a friend’s house and I was leaving her house and getting ready to turn onto a really curvy road. I looked both ways, but failed to look back a second time. As I was pulling out, a car zoomed around the corner and we collided. It was just a fender bender, but could’ve been a lot worse. Had I pulled out a second later, she would’ve hit my driver’s side door and it wouldn’t have been good. I get out of the car and all I’m thinking is, ‘Are they okay??’ I walk up to the car and notice that there’s a little child in the back seat. I’m now thinking, ‘Oh my gosh! This could’ve been really bad!’ The woman comes out of the car and is screaming at me, saying, “Did you not see me?” “Oh my gosh! You better hope my baby is okay!” I start balling. I’m not thinking any positive thoughts at this time. I call my parents balling and they come and talk to the lady. We exchange insurance info and I’m on my way back home, since my car was drivable. As I’m driving, tears are streaming down my face and I’m still in a total state of shock. Then, I start to notice beams of light, streaming through the trees, the most beautiful beams of light I have ever seen. Then the song, note the only Christian song playing on mainstream radio at the time, “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me starts playing. Now, when I am going through a tough time, I lean on God for understanding and peace. I also listen to Christian music ALL the time now and listen to it when I’m feeling at my lowest, because it lifts my spirits most of the time. Why do I follow Jesus? Because this moment in my life helped me realize God is with me, even when I’m at my lowest, He is there to give me peace in troubling times.
Then fast forward to a time when I was in college and started dating this guy, named Chris. During this time, I was trying to establish my independence and in turn separated myself from my parents, because I was dependent upon them for all my life. This guy also didn’t get along with my parents, which created a bigger wedge between me and them. I was “in love” and they didn’t understand, supposedly. I was dependent upon myself and didn’t let anyone else help with ANYTHING, not even God. I wanted to live my life MY way, not His Way, not my parents’ way, but MINE. This is a time that my mom doesn’t like to talk about, because it was not a highlight of her life, understandably so. Around this time, my Mom and I were sitting in the driveway and she said, “Katie, if you have a Godly relationship, you will be blessed. If you don’t, you could miss the blessing.” This was profound for me, because I had driven so many people away from me, and the person I needed the most in my relationship was God. I let God into our relationship, but Chris didn’t want God in our relationship, he said he felt like we would be back-tracking if we went with God’s ways and not our own. Our relationship ended soon after. Now, I’m married to a man that loves God and encourages me to do things to honor God, while honoring God through his own actions. Why do I follow Jesus? Because He teaches me that relationships with others is very important, but without a relationship with Him, they mean nothing.
Ok, last story, I promise. I was going into my 3rd year at Western and sin took a hold of me yet again. I was spiraling into a world that was dark and out-of-control. The thoughts of living in this world alone were enticing, but I was soon discovering that the world is full of temptation and sin. If you don’t turn to God, you turn towards sin and Satan’s ways and sin definitely separates us from God. During the time, I wasn’t living a life that honored God and I was doing things MY way, yet again. When was I going to learn?? I had the realization one day that I was living in sin and I felt more alone at that time in my life than any other. I sat down with my parents around the kitchen table one day and said, “There’s something I need to share with you.” Considering the choices I had made, they were a little scared about what I was about to share. I said, “I need to live with people that I know love me. I’m moving back home.” That was the best decision that I could have ever made. Those 2 years with my parents was exactly what I needed. I filled my life with God and with those that I love and love me back. Now, I’m am surrounded with people that love me and I love them. I have parents that would hang the moon for me, friends that are there for me through all of life’s troubles, and a husband that supports and encourages me through every up and down. Why do I follow Jesus? Because He shows me grace, even when I don’t feel deserving of His grace.
You see, the world is full of sin and hate. That’s due to Satan’s influence on us, sinners. It’s easy to give in to sin and give up hope, but don’t, because there’s hope. There’s a God that is full of love…in fact, He is love. This has been evident throughout my life. Whenever I have drifted away from Him, by the choices that I have made, He has remained the same. His arms have always offered an open invitation for me to follow Him. His love has never wavered. There has never been a greater love than the love that God has given me. To receive this love, all I had to do is choose to follow Him. Following Him is the best choice I could have ever made and I’ve been greatly blessed by it and you can be too.