My Faith Journey

My Faith Journey, Segment III: Radiant Joy

(This is the third part of a three-segment story. If you haven’t yet read them, please read Segment I and Segment II before continuing.)

Jesus Christ is my Savior. He is gentle and kind. He loves with a tender, yet powerful love. Nothing can separate true believers from His heart, not even we ourselves.

I once heard a well-known pastor (David Hocking) mention on his radio program that believers are held firmly in the Savior’s hand: we might move from knuckle to knuckle, but we can never jump out of His grasp!  It is only those who never truly believed that are capable of turning their backs on the Savior forever. Those of us who have been born again can never be UN-born again; it just isn’t possible!

Looking back, I recognize God’s loving guidance throughout all the different stages of my life. As a child, God drew me to the Savior so that I could believe in Him and be saved from an eternity in hell. As a young woman, God protected me from many dangers as I put myself at risk by my foolish decisions. He whispered to my heart, and caused me to remember the simple relationship I used to have with Him. He reawakened in me a longing to return to His strong, protective and affectionate embrace. Admitting the total disgustingness of my sin released me from its power, and cleared the way for me to renew my walk with God, unhindered. After that, He refreshed me with wave upon wave of His grace.

After we had already had two children, my man and I were finally married. I prayed fervently that God would use our wedding as a beautiful testimony of His grace; I wanted other people to see God’s goodness in our lives, and be inspired that if God could so lavishly pour out His blessings on us, then He could do the same for them, too. I believe that God answered my prayer.

Our wedding was a powerful experience, not only for the two of us, but for many others. Several guests came up to us with tears in their eyes, saying that they had never been to a wedding as beautiful as ours (and they had been to plenty!). They said that our love was so strong, it was obvious to everybody just by looking at us. And I’m here to tell you, that it wasn’t a show!

January 2015 017

We do love each other very much. A few months after our wedding, I became pregnant with our third child. Since then, we’ve had two more–five total! And our hearts are open to more, as many as God in His perfect wisdom designs to give us. I wouldn’t give a single one of them back, and I realize how much we would be missing if even just one of them hadn’t been conceived and born into this world! Our children, just like all the children of the entire world, are an amazing gift to us from a loving Father. Each one is a present, waiting to be unwrapped! God is the only One wise enough to be able to discern who should be conceived, and when. This is not in the realm of our responsibility, and it was never meant to be. Children are a blessing (Psalm 127), and they always are a blessing no matter what circumstances they may be born into. God has helped us to learn this truth from His word. This is very counter-cultural, but please remember one thing:

We should use the Bible to interpret our experiences, instead of using our experiences to interpret the Bible.

I have learned that we must always start with the Bible, and then move forward from there, never the other way around. Rationalizations and excuses there are aplenty, but do they measure up when compared to God’s timeless Word? My husband and I are constantly learning more as God teaches us from His Word. We have come to the point to where we now place our trust in God as our Family Planner, but it took us awhile to get here. Several years passed before we were able, with God’s help, to throw off the baggage of the world’s system of doing things. (By the way, I do not condone sex before marriage, or cohabitation. However, birth control is unbiblical for everyone, married or not. If unmarried, the right approach is abstinence. We made some mistakes. I wish we wouldn’t have done things the way we did, but there’s no turning back the clock. I thank God that He turned our mistakes around for our good. Our children are a wonderful gift from Him, and I never, ever regret having them.) There are other areas of our life where we have experienced growth as well.

During our early years, especially before we were married, there were a lot of tensions and conflicts in our relationship. After we committed ourselves to each other through marriage, many of those problems were gradually resolved. Another very important factor was my husband becoming a born-again believer. By the grace of God, shortly before we were married my soon-to-be husband accepted Christ as his Savior, unexpectedly. Now, we have a harmonious and peaceful relationship. But we’re still growing! And I hope and pray that we never stop growing! My husband has developed into a sweet, considerate, strong man of God, who is patient with me even when I’m emotional and can’t stop crying. Early in our relationship, he would have just shook his head and walked away annoyed if he saw me crying over something “silly.” Now, he comes up to me, looks me directly in the eyes, draws me close in a warm embrace, and asks me what the problem is. As I pour out my heart to him, he listens attentively. He reminds me that he loves me, and tells me how beautiful I am to him. I LOVE MY HUSBAND!

He has changed, and I’ve changed. I used to yell a lot. And I used to throw things (I hate to admit it). I used to nag him until midnight. No wonder he got so annoyed with me! Little by little, the Lord showed me through His Word, and through reading godly women’s blog articles, that I was wrong in my controlling and disrespectful attitudes. Gradually, I began to change my behavior. In addition, I started wearing skirts and dresses only, and began to use a headcovering, as tangible reminders that my role is to submit to my husband’s leadership. If I step back, he will step in to fill the gap. I’ve noticed that my respect empowers him to be the leader that his heart naturally drives him to want to be. I’m still working on it, though! Sometimes I get in a bad mood, and find myself sinking back into being contentious and pushy–goodness, does this transforming process take a long time!

Additionally, God has knit us together as we study His Word with each other, and on our own. The only way we are able to experience true unity is by basing our lives on the Bible.

I love reading the Bible.

The Scriptures that God breathed (2 Timothy 3:16) are my bread, my spiritual food (Matthew 4:1-4). I don’t need a supernatural experience, a vision, or a dream. Everything I need is found in the Word of God, and in the Spirit of God. To look for anything beyond that might be considered idolatry, and might lead to heresy (though if God chooses to bless us with those things, that’s fine, because it’s His doing, not us looking for signs and wonders).

Thank You, God, for restoring me to a right relationship with you. Thank You for taking care of me all through my life. Thank You for never letting go of my hand, even though I temporarily began to sink down into the swirling, stormy waters. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit Who wouldn’t let me get away with my sin, but brought me conviction, and freed me from the traps of the devil. I love You, and I can’t wait for Jesus to come back, and to be with Him forever. Thank You for Your care for me and my family as You provide our daily bread, even much beyond our needs. Thank You for Your power that guards us from harm, and that sustains us even when You allow us to go through difficult and painful times. I know You have forgiven me of my sins. Please continue to help us grow in You, to learn more about You every day, and to mature as You make us more like Christ. Thank You for the fruits of the Spirit that You are producing in us. Give us wisdom to deal with the problems that surface in our lives. We look to You for our help, and no other. Thank you. 

At this point, please allow me to answer the questions that I presented to you in Segment I. Through further study, I have been able to find answers to those doubts I had as a teenager and younger woman. However, I am still learning–more every day! I appreciate everything my parents did for us in homeschooling us and raising us with the Bible as a guide. Their hard work paid off! What I learned from my home studies provided an excellent base from which to expand out into further study. I don’t consider that being home educated handicapped me in any way. To the contrary, it equipped me to have the tools to know how to deal with the problems that I faced later in life. If there were any gaps, they are now being filled as I, now a (hopefully) mature adult, continue to research. My husband and I have decided to home educate our own children, and it is one of the best things we’ve ever done! There is more order and harmony in our home (most days, ha, ha). We are more unified. And we have plenty of time for each other, and for reading good books!

Now, the Q & A (the answers are the short version–I don’t have room here to address every concern–there are books for that! The following was taken mostly from the books The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel; The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell; and Strange Fire, by John MacArthur. I am not a teacher of theology. I don’t know all the answers to every question (actually, no one does). What you will read next is simple apologetics; it is what I needed to know in order to solidify my faith. However, on this blog I will not usually be addressing deep doctrinal issues, since my belief is that those matters are not for women to speak or write about publicly (1 Timothy 2:11-15; 1 Corinthians 14:34-35). I do have my opinions on a variety of different biblical topics; but, I try to limit my public writing to those topics that touch on the issues of women, children, marriage, and our conduct in general.

THE BIBLE

  1. How do we know that the authors of the Bible actually heard from God? Couldn’t they have just written down what they wanted to, and then said that it was from God? The real test here is PROPHECY. If someone claiming to speak for God predicted something which later came to pass exactly as he predicted, then the prophet was from God. The Bible has numerous recorded prophesies, of which many have already been perfectly fulfilled, while some are yet to be fulfilled.
  2. How do we know that the prophesies in the Bible were given before the events happened? For example, take the prophesies in the book of Daniel about the major kingdoms of the world (Babylonia, Persia, Greece, Rome): wouldn’t it be possible for someone to have recorded those things afterward, pretending that they had already been prophesied? One way to determine this is by comparing the content of the book of Daniel to archaeological finds. As we see things coinciding, we are struck by the fact that only someone actually living during that time period would have an intimate familiarity with the customs, musical instruments and names of places and kings of that time. 
  3. How do we know that as the Bible was copied over and over, nothing was lost? Is the Bible we have today an accurate record of what was originally written down? A comparison of our oldest texts with the Bible we have today makes it clear that the original writings have been faithfully preserved. There have only been minor discrepancies such as different spellings, for example. Also, the customs of the scribes who copied the Old Testament Scriptures were very methodical and precise. The New Testament was written down at a time when people were still living who had seen those same events recorded in the Bible take place. They could have spoken up and accused the authors of telling lies, if they weren’t telling the truth.  
  4. Why do we have so many Bible translations? What are the differences among them, why are there any differences at all, and which one contains the word of God? The answer to this is complex. To put it simply, most differences in translation are minimal. Like if I said “running wild” while someone else might say “unrestrained.” The meaning is the same, just different words. Translators sometimes make small changes to convey the meaning of a text more accurately. However, none of the major doctrines of Christianity are affected by any of these minor corrections (this excludes the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which has some changes which DO greatly affect some major doctrines, but the scholarship of this translation is in question). We can be sure that even though we do not have the original texts, the copies available today reliably preserve the original content. 
  5. How do we know that the books which are currently included in the Bible, are the ones God intended to be compiled? How did people go about deciding which books, or letters, to include and which ones to leave out? Doesn’t that show human manipulation? Why don’t Evangelical Christians use the Apocrypha? If a prophet spoke a word supposedly from God, and that prophetic word proved accurate, then the people knew that God was speaking through that person; his words could be considered as coming from God (with a zero percent margin for error). The words of the apostles which are recorded in the New Testament could easily be corroborated by other people still alive during the time the N.T. was being written. People didn’t just up and decide which books of the Bible to include, and which to leave out: the writings of men already known to be inspired of God were held as Scripture right from the beginning. Those books written well after the time of the apostles do not have the apostolic stamp. Only the books written by the apostles themselves, and other men ordained by God during the time of the apostles, are considered Scripture.    
  6. Why did God only speak to the Jewish people? Why don’t we (Evangelical Christians) consider the Koran to be inspired by God, or the Indian Vedas? What about the Book of Mormon? How about supposed “revelations” that some claim come from God? God only spoke to the Jewish people because He’s God, and that’s the way He decided to do it. Not that He never gave dreams or messages to non-Jewish people: Pharaoh of Egypt and Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon received special dreams from God. However, they were not used by God to write the Bible. The Israeli people were chosen by God to be His instrument for recording His word, and also as His channel through which would come the Messiah. They continue to be God’s special people even today. The Bible has been attested to by fulfilled prophecies, and accurate historical details. Can any other book or revelation claim the same? 

JESUS

 

  1. Did Jesus really rise from the dead? The Bible says that lots of people saw Him; but couldn’t they have gotten together and decided they would all say that they had seen him, when they had not? Well, if they had done that, they had multiple enemies who would have been quick to mercilessly point out their error! Also, the fact that the apostles were martyred for their faith is very telling. Who would willingly die for something that he knows to be a lie? Muslims commit suicide by blowing themselves up–but they do it because they believe the Koran to be true. But if they knew it to be a lie, could they really be convinced to give up their lives? Most people don’t die for what they know is a lie. Our lives are too precious to us.  
  2. Can the biblical accounts of Jesus’ life be trusted? Is it possible that the authors of the New Testament just made up what they wanted to believe, instead of what actually happened? Again, there were multitudes of people who could call them out on their error. In the gospels, we have eyewitness accounts, not second-hand fabrications. 
  3. Are there any sources outside of the Bible itself that mention Jesus? What do they say about Him? Actually, there are. Some rabbinic accounts refer to Him in a derisive manner as a worker of magic tricks, which betrays the fact that He did indeed perform mysterious deeds that couldn’t just be explained away. 
  4. How do we know that Jesus did all those miracles? There are so many con artists today who trick gullible people into believing that they have power from God; could a man named Jesus have convinced others that He was able to perform miracles, when there may have been a natural explanation for the events that occurred? The miracles that Jesus performed couldn’t be duplicated. No one was doing the wonders that He was performing. No one. The greatest of which was His resurrection from the dead. The disciples followed Him to the death. No one would do that for a con artist. 
  5. Did the man Jesus ever exist? How do we know He wasn’t a myth popularized by a people hungry for a Messiah? Secular sources from that time mention Him. The eyewitness accounts of the gospels proclaim Him. He definitely wasn’t a myth. And He is the Messiah–we need wait no longer!

 

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7 thoughts on “My Faith Journey, Segment III: Radiant Joy

  1. Dear Jessica,
    What a beautiful journey you have walked with the Lord! Thank you for sharing your life story with us. I could see how our Lord has worked in your life and the life of your dear husband. By reading how your husband cares for you, it is obvious that your husband is a very kind person. I am so happy for you.

    If I could go back to my childhood and if my parents were Christians, I must have asked them to teach me at home. Your children are blessed because they are educated by godly parents at home.

    Radiant joy! Amen. I am so happy to have known you. Kinuko

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    1. Thank you for your sweet, kind words! Yes, my husband is a very kind person, because he has the Spirit of Christ living inside him. I want other people to see how much of a difference Jesus can make in our lives!

      I’m glad to have known you, too! What an encouragement you are!
      Jessica

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  2. Hi, Jessica!

    I spent some time yesterday and today reading your three-part testimony series, and I wanted to drop you a line to let you know how much I enjoyed it! You have an amazing testimony, and it was very encouraging to read.

    I especially enjoyed your writing about birth control, as in the following:

    “And our hearts are open to more, as many as God in His perfect wisdom designs to give us. I wouldn’t give a single one of them back, and I realize how much we would be missing if even just one of them hadn’t been conceived and born into this world! … God is the only One wise enough to be able to discern who should be conceived, and when. This is not in the realm of our responsibility, and it was never meant to be. Children are a blessing (Psalm 127), and they always are a blessing no matter what circumstances they may be born into.”

    It’s always so exciting to find believers who are like-minded on this subject. We gave our family planning into the Lord’s hands three years ago, and it has been an awesome transformation in our lives. We wish that we had done it earlier – I really let fear get in the way of trust. Our first “officially unplanned” baby arrived two months ago, and she is a joy – and we’re looking forward to (hopefully!) another whenever the Lord chooses to bless us again. However, we know that had we made this decision years ago, we would likely have one or two more children – something we can’t undo. However, we look forward to the future!

    Have a wonderful Sabbath!!
    Diana

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    1. Hi, Diana!
      I’m so glad you enjoyed reading my testimony. I never really thought of it as “amazing” so it’s really cool to hear that from you.

      Thank you for sharing your personal experience regarding birth control. It’s such an encouragement to hear from someone else who feels the same way! You know, I have often expressed to my husband, “Look at our sweet little baby as she toddles around the house, and attempts her first words–if we had used birth control, she probably would have never been born! and we would never have known the great tragedy of her missing person. To think about it makes me feel like crying. How many other children are never even given the chance to be conceived, and we have no clue what we’re missing?” It’s true, that there’s no turning back time: what’s been done has been done. This was true for us, just as for you and your husband. But, as you say, “we look forward to the future!”

      Congratulations on the birth of your newest baby! I read your birth story, and it was incredible! It almost made me wish that I could have an unassisted birth, too, the next time!

      May God bless you and your family,
      Jessica

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely on all points!! 🙂

        Thank you for your sweet comments, as well! I wouldn’t mind another unassisted birth myself, but I hear those are pretty rare! 🙂

        Have a wonderful night!
        Diana

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  3. Dear Jessica,today finally I could finish to read these articles(segment one to three). Not only because I have to take time to read in English,but I hope to read carefully to get what you really mean,what you really share. It is so true and beautiful story of you and Jesus. How seriously you needed Him!
    Sharing your life story needs courage.Some may criticize,some may judge,some may not understand you. But with courage you always share us. For me, you are also ‘missionary.’
    Also thank you for Q and A. It will be so much help for me.
    Several years ago,one Vietnamese cathoric girl asked me ‘I feel that you tell us truth about God,but what shall we do… if the Bible is NOT true?’. I could not answer soon, because for me Bible is absolutely true. I answered ‘God knows it’s true. Because He gave us bible to let us know Him.’ I felt It was not thorough answer. If I had words to tell the truth like you do,maybe I could answer her more.
    You may not notice,but I feel that you are blessed lady.God bless you and your loving family! Love from Japan

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    1. Dear Sanae,
      Your loving and kind response warmed my soul! Yes, it did take a lot of courage to publish my story. Even today, I sometimes wonder whether it was a good idea. But I am greatly encouraged by words such as yours, like “with courage you always share with us,” “you are also a missionary,” and “you are a blessed lady.” Thank you for those sweet insights into my life!

      Thank you for praying that God would bless me and my family; I also, pray that God would bless you and yours!
      Your friend from Arizona,
      Jessica

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