Defining moments. We all have them – our lives marked by them, spiritual or personal. They can happen at any time, especially those spiritual defining moments where our faith changed, for the better, or was simply defined, strengthened.
This year, Faithwalkers, that yearly conference, hosted by Great Commission Churches, to encourage all believers in their walk of faith, will focus solely on defining moments from those whose lives were shaped by them.
We’ll have the opportunity to hear many stories of defining moments at Faithwalkers, and here are some “Defining Moments” from members of the Candlewood Church family.
On August 24th, 2012, the woman that led me to Christ, the woman who baptized me, my best friend, walked away from the faith. I remember that day when she asked me to come over and talk. In the pit of my stomach I knew, somehow, that she was leaving. When she told me, I felt like I had broken into a million pieces. I was so angry at her and at God. Up until that point in my walk, I was so attached to her, and God was second in my life. The days, weeks, and months to come, I was heartbroken. I felt empty. I went through months of depression and confusion. My quiet times were sporadic, and my attendance at church and Small Group was dwindling. One day, I remember getting alone with God and just screaming and crying out to him. I found myself on my knees, desperately praying for this woman who I thought broke me. The woman, I thought, I couldn’t walk without. Then, I found myself saying thank you to God for her leaving, because for the first time in my walk it was all of me depending on all of Him. I knew He was the only one who could get me through my heartbreak, and I knew he had to be Lord over all my life. He had to be first. I realized that people will fail us, leave us, and forsake us, but God never does. In that moment, I realized that with her I was walking, but without her, I started running. Years have gone by, I still pray for her, and by God’s grace I’m still running the race he has set before me, more confident than ever, that no matter what trials, stumbles, or persecutions that come He will be with me, and He will never leave me.
In 8th grade, I faced a crisis many middle school kids go through, the question of “Who am I?” Up until this time in my life, I had been riding along on my parents’ faith. I was in public school for the first time and had a choice before me: Do I choose to make this faith my own and live for the Lord, or do I begin to do what all my friends are doing by pursuing girls, partying, and living for sports. I remember pacing back and forth in my room wrestling with this decision. I came to the realization that as a Christian my main mission in life was to make disciples. I was to care about the things that God cared most about which is people. I made the decision to give my all to God and have spent the remaining years of my life making disciples and living for God. It was a defining moment and decision I have never regretted.
A broken heart and a broken body describes my 2015. Moments that kept adding up to a point that I didn’t think I could carry or handle them anymore. If I am being honest, a lot of the time that’s what I tried to do: carry them myself. I know that God is always in control, sovereign, and caring, but there were a lot of times that I didn’t feel or believe that – times that I felt more alone than ever. That’s what I have learned most this year. What are you going to do when you don’t feel it – don’t / can’t believe it? Choose to. That’s it – choose to believe, choose to keep going, choose to keep serving, and showing up. God chose me, died for me, so the least I can do is not give up on Him. It may feel like He’s given up, but He hasn’t. He’s still there. One of the things I have held on to most is in the book of John when Lazarus dies; Jesus weeps with Mary. He hears her out, and He cries with her. Jesus already knows that He is going to raise Lazarus from the dead, but he doesn’t tell her to be calm and chill out and listen. Jesus lets her be, and he stays with her. That is a God worth going through the trenches with: one who truly cares and who weeps with you. There have be times of triumph where I have chosen Him. There have been good days, happy days, pain free days, but don’t get me wrong, there have been really bad days, too – weakness, brokenness, depression, pain, and that’s okay. Those moments aren’t what define me; Jesus is who defines me. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but it’s okay to not be okay. Pretending to be okay and “handling” things, is worse than just not being okay and just sitting with your King. This isn’t the last time that I will have a hard year or struggles. That’s the beauty of God and one of the things that I appreciate about Him most – He never stops. God never gives up. He won’t give up on me just because I am not okay yet. He’ll keep pressing until I have learned everything that He wants me to learn. He’ll keep allowing hardships and trials to mold me and bring me closer to Him. I may not like that. In fact, I really, really don’t like that. However, to be the woman that He created me to be, I’ll do my best to follow and go through the trenches with Him because He’s worth it. It’s going to be worth it.
I still remember attending my first Faithwalkers conference in 2011. I had struggled all of that fall semester with feelings of guilt because I was not loving enough, doing enough, giving enough, and being enough. I was determined not to go to Faithwalkers because I feared God would send more accusations my way. It wasn’t until the night before the conference that my uncle, who was visiting Lincoln at the time, urged me to go. I thought it was such an unusual thing for my uncle to tell me, so I decided to grab a pillow, pack my bag, and hop on a van with some friends who were also headed there. The first speaker came onstage that night, and I waited to receive rebuke from God. So imagine my astonishment when God spoke right to my heart, through the words of the speaker, “You are perfect.” It was the last thing I expected to hear from God, and yet He told me that I was perfect in Him because He was and always will be enough for me. While the devil accuses us, we have a great King Jesus who constantly acts on our behalf. It was a moment that changed my life as I learned that there was no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. What a Savior!