Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Story: Transforming, Not Tweaking

Do you know my story? Do you really know who I am? A window into my soul. A door into my past. Open and waiting for you.

Our local Tanger Outlet mall has just this past year installed quarter-eating kiddie rides every fifty feet…a truck, horse, Garfield car, carousel, and Clifford. My almost three-year-old, Wyatt, bounces onto one ride after another as we make our way down the strip.

The catch? He doesn’t know the rides do anything but sit there. He has no idea they come to life when fed quarters. And so, he’s content to sit in each one and turn the wheel or giddyup the horse, himself.

This is an image of me until just a few years ago—not knowing what abundance and joy really existed if I let Jesus take complete control of my life.

From infancy through high school, my parents made sure I attended church every Sunday and Wednesday to be involved in Sunday School, choir, Bible Drills, and all the missions activities for each level in GA’s and Acteens (think “Christian Girl Scouts”). I tried on my own to read the Bible diligently, but I got stuck in lists of names I didn’t know and New Testament analogies that were over my head.

When I was seven years old, I understood that I was a sinner and had broken God’s law. I repented of my sin, and believed in Jesus’ death of the cross to save my soul. But for the next twenty years I asked, “Is this it? Is this all there is to life as a Christian?”

I knew John 10:10: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” But I thought that Jesus was only referring to abundant life with Him in heaven. I considered my time on earth as more or less a waiting game where Jesus would tweak me into His image until He called me home.

But when I was 18, at a revival meeting, Jesus spoke to my heart and told me there was more to life with Him, but that He demanded obedience from me in all things. I needed to find out why I believed what I believed. I needed to learn prayer was more than a one-way street with me doing all the talking. And I needed to get out of the driver’s seat of my life.

So, each morning when I arrived at the university’s campus, I sat in my car for a half hour to an hour and diligently read my Bible. I understood a bit more. But I still thought this was all God had to offer me here on earth. And I wasn’t too good at giving up control of anything.

Then, ten years later at age 28, I started working through my first in-depth Bible study. Learning how to read and let the Holy Spirit guide me in understanding God’s word was like watching a rosebud’s petals open one by one. Each petal showed me a new, different aspect of God--a God of mercy and love but also a God of holy justice and righteousness. A God who desired to have an intimate relationship with me and to give me abundant life right here on earth. And the key to that joyful, abundant life was found in my examining and applying the Scripture.

For the first time in my life, I was finally starting to realize true joy in Jesus, in worship, in reading and understanding of Scripture…and that this was the more that I’d been missing out on all these years.

But for me to apply everything I was learning in Scripture, God would need to do a complete overhaul of me, to totally transform (not tweak) me into a new creation. So, God took the belljar that was my life and dumped out all the assorted pieces of the life my husband and I were building together.

After an uplifting Wednesday night service, we arrived home to a phonecall from his then-employer. Our joyful smiles turned to furrowed brows of fear as we learned one of my husband’s clients had given him forged medical records, which he naively passed on to the insurance company on her behalf. She claimed ignorance of her misdeed. And my husband was charged with insurance fraud.

Over the next year, my husband’s one-year-old license to practice law, his job, and his career were stripped away. The plans to build our house were rolled up and stuck on a shelf. And we suffered through infertility issues, ultimately miscarrying two babies in June and December of that same year.

To say the bottom dropped out of our world would be an understatement. This did not seem like abundant life.

But it was.

It was God taking control of my life and teaching me that to have true abundant life, I had to trust Him, give Him my everything—my finances, my desire for children, my living space.

He wasn’t content to be just an “attachment” to my life. He wanted to be my life.

I responded to each heartache by working through another Bible study, saturating my mind and heart with more and more Scripture. When that wasn’t enough to keep the depression from threatening to drown me, I took to printing out Scriptures and taping them on the doorframes and mirrors around the house.

My life now is nothing like it was before God started doing that major renovation in early 2005. But even in loss, there has been much more gain. In almost five years’ time, God has blessed us with three children who drive me crazy most days; a secure job I can do from home; and steady employment for Doug.

Doug will likely never regain his law license and his employment will likely never be secure unless God works a miracle. I won’t again see those babies I miscarried until I get to heaven. And our house plans are still gathering dust on the shelf as we wait for God’s hand to move. But I am walking in abundant life with the solid earth beneath my feet.

Jesus is everything I have. And He has transformed my heart from self-centeredness to a heart that grieves for those who have yet to find Him and submit to Him as Lord and Savior.

Maybe you’ve asked the same question I did, “Is this all there is to being a Christian?”

No. There’s more.

And you can find it just like me if you commit to in-depth study of the Bible.

He’s waiting for you between the pages.


  1. What a beatiful testimony!

    I'm so grateful that He will not allow us to be satisfied with anything else but Him.

    The demands of this world are constantly tugging at us. I'm so thankful for people like you, Jennifer. Your determination for only His best encourages me. I never want to settle for anything less than His very best!

    Thank you for sharing your testimony! We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony! Thank you for allowing Him to speak through you.

    It means more than I could possibly put into words.

  2. Incredible. I don't have anything more than that to say.


  3. An incredible, incredible post, Jennifer. I've got God-Bumps all over the place.

    ((And Jennifer? I just linked to you over at my blog (before I came over here) and I can hardly believe me eyes. My post explores whether we really know people's stories. Your post begins: "Do you know my story?" Amazed at God's timing.))

  4. Now I've got God-bumps, Jennifer! I am constantly amazed at how being obedient and writing what He wants me to write WHEN He tells me to write it perfectly fits together with the other puzzle pieces of life right then. I shouldn't be amazed...but I am. Thanks for linking to me. You inspire and encourage me in being a Christian mom.

  5. Oh my, Jennifer. What an amazing testimony. Every word spoke to me.

  6. That is awful what happened to your husband! It must have taken a lot of determination to pick up the pieces and carry on after that. But I guess when you have a family to support, what else can you do but keep going. God must have something better around the corner. But look how your faith deepened, and your love for God grew! It is truly in our trials that our hearts become more steadfast.