I couldn't believe my eyes when I read on facebook that Chuck Smith went home to be with the Lord last night. He was such an influence in my life.
I have shared my testimony with y'all on here before...
When I was 20 years old, I gave my life to Jesus Christ alone in my room after reading Galatians 5. The Holy Spirit quickened my heart, opened my eyes, and drug me to the feet of Jesus. God really challenged me that night with the question... "Are you for me or against me? You decide."
I begged God to forgive me for my years of sin and rebellion and said, "I have nothing to give you but I give you all that I am." At that moment, the heavens opened and love, grace, and forgiveness poured over me. I became a new creation. The old was gone and the new had come. It was all from God. I entered into the greatest love story ever told that night.
I will never forget saying, "If I can know you, I want to know you."
Immediately I was given a hunger for the Word of God. The same Book that had been collecting dust on my shelf for 20 years began to SPEAK and BREATHE and I couldn't stop reading it. That is all I wanted to do.
I prayed for God to lead me to a place where I could learn His Word. He did. He led me to Calvary Chapel Knoxville where Pastor Mark Kirk began to teach me and a handful of others (line-by-line and verse-by-verse) through the Bible.
I was there every time the door was open. Mark's wife Tracy told me about a Bible College in Austria where they would teach me the Bible. I prayed about it. I applied to get in. I got in. I left everything with a huge suitcase and a backpack and went to Austria to study the Bible. It was my honeymoon with Jesus. I knew no one but I didn't care. I just wanted to study the Word and learn how to serve God. I was about 21 now. I had graduated from UT Knoxville and was planning on being a high school health teacher. BUT GOD... But God, completely changed my path at just the right moment.
I didn't know if I would ever come back. I wondered if God was calling me to be a missionary. I had a fire in my bones to share the Good News that God had given to me.... that they could be brought back to God. Not only did I receive salvation that night, I also received my TASK.
"Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others... If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit... And God has given us this TASK of reconciling people to him.
For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.
So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ."
2 Cor 5:11-21
So, off I went... a 21 year old baby in the Lord to Austria alone with only Jesus and my backpack. God had so much UNDOING and UNTANGLING to do in my life. I had made bad decisions apart from Him. My mind had to be renewed. He began His demolition/rebuilding process (which He is still doing) in me.
I lived in this castle.
(That is the prayer tower where I cried out to God often).
He met me there.
I lived in a tiny little room packed full of other girls who had been called by name to come to this place as well. That is me and my sweet friend, Hope. :)
Me and Paula dressed up as reindeer.
Me, Hope, and Koren traveling through Europe.
Hiking the Austrian Alps...
While I was there, we were taught by amazing teachers and required to listen to Chuck Smith's teachings through the entire Bible. I began to listen to this deep, grandfathery, booming voice teach me how to simply understand the Bible. I listened to cassette tapes (as I felt like I was sitting on my grandfather's lap) as this joyful godly man taught me how to know and trust the Bible. During the last 17 years of walking with Jesus, Chuck Smith has continued to teach me and show me what godliness looks like. He was a HUGE influence in my life. This world lost an amazing Bible teacher last night. It is getting harder and harder to find sound teachers. BE CAREFUL out there. You can still listen to Chuck Smith. If you are a new believer and don't know who is a trustworthy teacher and who isn't. Start HERE...
I cried when I read the news that he died last night. Not only did he affect my life, he changed thousands upon thousands of lives by teaching God's Word and loving people. His legacy is unreal. I know it was the Lord through him. How I desire to be used by God is such a powerful way.
“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
So, needless to say... God brought me back home from Austria and led me to the man I was created for. My life doesn't look the way I thought it would. I am a missionary but my mission field is in my house and the people I get to teach about Jesus are really small. :) I hope and pray my boys will be teachers of the Word.
Last night I went on a romantic date with Tim. We went out to eat. (I was super uncomfortable.) Then we went walking along the bridges downtown. (I was super uncomfortable :) Then we stopped to sit on a bench to pray. (I was REALLY uncomfortable.) But, we poured our hearts out to God asking Him to use our lives, our marriage, our children for His glory. To prune us down to the primary root that only produces life. To give us His eyes for people... especially our children. I cried as I could hardly take it all in... all the blessings. How far God has brought me since the night I gave my life to Him. I never dreamed a life like this existed. I never dreamed of a marriage so sweet and having 6 children. Has our life been easy? NO. Has it been perfect? NO. But it is blessed.
WHO AM I? and why have you blessed me, Lord?
WHO AM I? and why have you blessed me, Lord?
So, I am SUPER sad that Chuck Smith's influence will no longer be here but I am motivated to let God's Word flow through me and it's power continue to change lives around me.