Our pastor asked our church to read our Bible all the way through, to fast at least one day a week, to pray five days a week, to teach a Bible study and to keep a prayer journal, all within a ninety-day period. Now I am going to be very honest I did not want to read my Bible every day during the summer! I mean come on, pastor! You’re getting in the way of my plans. My attitude should have been my first clue that something was wrong with me.
My husband is a young minister in training so I decided to join him in this endeavor. At first it was really hard. I had other things I wanted to do, places I wanted to go other than to outreach on a Saturday.
I am saddened to say that I had become a professional Pentecostal. Yes, my clothes were right, my skirts were long enough, my hair was uncut, I didn’t wear makeup, I went to church, I sang in the choir, and I led worship. At times I thought, Why am I doing all this? Why isn’t God really using me? Why this and why that, and He did this and it’s not my fault, and I’m being mistreated, and God has forsaken me. After all I do for Him!
I had lost the joy of living for God. I was building my whole life around the cares of life.
Jesus said, “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares” (Luke 21:34).
My cares of life were: Do we have enough money? How are we going to pay those hospital bills? How are we going to give to the building fund? How are we going to survive in the California Bay Area where it is extremely expensive to live? And yet, in a small way we were faithful in our giving, and the Lord blessed my husband with an incredible job. He had a good salary with benefits and good hours.
Still I did not wake up. Because of everything we had gone through and because we have been poor over the last several years, I felt a little entitled. Like, OK, it’s about time God! My whole life was centered on me. If I have heard it once I have heard it a thousand times: “life is not all about you.” Life is supposed to be full, overflowing, and happy, yet I was miserable.
I wish I could tell you that I prayed an hour a day and that I still read my Bible during this time, but I didn’t. I would pray, but just enough to get me by.
I have not always been this way-I have had powerful walks with God; I have had incredible prayer meetings where it was just the Lord and me; and I have received revelations and convictions that have kept me. But I became lazy and the cares of life choked me!
God didn’t thunder down from Heaven or write a message in the sky or even have someone give me a word. I knew God was testing me, but I was tired of the test. I knew that God wanted me to go deeper. I knew God wanted me to be more than just a singer; He wanted me to be an intercessor. He wanted me to get back to weeping for lost souls and to looking at people and actually seeing beyond the exterior. But I thought, I do enough and I can’t change now. I am twenty-six years old and have never taught a personal Bible study to anyone. How can I change now?
What got me to wake up was a comment on Facebook. I had posted something about the world that we live in and someone responded, “We really should be praying ‘Lord Jesus come quickly.'”
I laughed at the comment. I thought, Yea right; Lord Jesus come quickly. What a super spiritual person. No one actually prays that prayer!
And that is what got me to thinking. Why don’t we pray that prayer? Because even as miserable as we think we are, we are comfortable with our lives. I was comfortable just going to a church that preaches the truth, just praying barely enough, just singing in the choir, just leading song service, and getting filled and filled and filled instead of growing on what is taught and preached over the pulpit and instead of reaching out to someone in need and instead of giving of myself to the lost. I kept it all inside and did nothing with it. In a world of six billion people, I have the truth; I have been taught about Jesus Christ my entire life. I have been taught about His goodness and mercy and grace and power. Yet, I became this. How? And it was like a switch was flipped on for me. Who did I think I was? A Pentecostal preacher’s daughter! Did I really think that God was going to use me just because of my parents? Did I really think that God was going to open a door for my husband and me to take a church or start a church because we can sing well, because he can preach, or because I can play the piano?
No! I am nothing and no one without God! I am still repenting for my foolish thoughts and my foolish actions. Even though I have heard many times the necessity of having a relationship with God, I had lost my relationship with Him. I had forgotten how “precious” Jesus Christ is. He was no longer my King and my Lord. I did not call him Master or Savior. He was just God to other people. But not to me. Not really. He could forgive and change other people’s lives but not mine. His grace was sufficient for others but not for me.
How did I get to the place where I could sing in an altar service but when I was not behind a microphone I didn’t know what to do? How could I not know how to pray someone through to the Holy Ghost? How did I let myself become this person? I appeared perfectly good on the outside but on the inside I was dull and dead. I went through the motions but there was no joy.
Now I am overwhelmed. I am ashamed. But I am alive. I can’t sleep at night because the Holy Ghost wakes me up to pray for a lady I saw at the grocery store. She had a Louis Vuitton purse and Chanel shoes but her eyes haunt me. She is lost! She doesn’t know Jesus. So why didn’t I say something to her? When I look at people, I see where they are going if I don’t do something. There is not one person in our church who is there because of me. How can I go to Heaven without taking someone with me?
For all I thought I was doing, I was doing nothing outside the four walls of the church. I went to church, prayed, spoke in tongues, cried, and left feeling good about myself. I vividly remember getting frustrated that we had no visitors. Our outreach was not doing enough. Shouldn’t they be bringing more people? What about Joe? Where are all his guests? What about Natalie bringing the bus kids? I nitpicked everything that everyone else did but did not see that I was doing nothing.
As a kid I was made fun of because I would rather be in the sanctuary of the church than out in the halls-I wanted to be in church. At camp meetings and youth conventions I refused to go to the hotel room and watch movies. I didn’t listen to worldly music. As a teenager, I prayed and read my Bible and had a real relationship with God. Why did I change when I became an adult? Did I just get comfortable? Paying the rent, working, loving my husband? Why did I start caring what people thought about me if I was the first one in the altar and the last one to leave?
That kid part of me is dying to get out and it is slowly but surely clawing its way to the surface. I refuse to be another professional Pentecostal who never wins anyone to God or who never hears the voice of God or who lives off of the stories of their parents and grandparents.
Something is moving inside of me-something I didn’t have even as a kid and it scares me. But it’s real and I can’t fight it. I don’t even want to fight it. I’ve got to win someone. I must pray and intercede. I must get out of my comfort zone. I must intercede for the lost. I can’t expect everyone else to do it. I am not saying that I’m turning into a weird super spiritual person. But something has happened to me. Jesus is my Lord and King. Jesus Christ is in me. I now see people through His eyes. The only way some people will come to know Jesus is for us to wake up. Maybe you are OK with the way things are. But I am not. I must reach as many people as I can with the message of Jesus, the Savior.
This is my ninety-day challenge experience.
This article “My Testimony”, by a person who wishes to remain anonymous, was excerpted from the magazine Pentecostal Herald, December 2010. It may be used for study and research purposes only.