When I was 4 years old, I received Jesus Christ as my personal Savior during a Sunday evening evangelism training service, taught by my father, who was a Baptist preacher. There have been several points in my life when I was prompted by God to renew that commitment that I made to Him to serve Him as my Lord, to surrender more of myself, to rededicate my life to Him and receive a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit. I have been prayed for by many Godly people throughout my life. As I look back on my life, I can see that God's grace has been ever present.
In 2000, when I was 21 years old, I began to attend Trinity Church of the Nazarene in Fort Wayne, Indiana. At that point, I did not change my fundamentalist way of thinking or my Calvinist doctrinal beliefs, nor did I see a need to do so. Eventually, I desired to become a member of the church. But after taking the membership class a couple of times, I found that I could not reconcile the differences in theology. My husband and my in-laws saw my desire to belong to the church and how sad it made me that my beliefs were not the same as my church. They prayed for me to understand Nazarene doctrine and to see how it came from the Scripture. In 2002, my husband offered to go through the Articles of Faith with me, and to help me decipher the language, and then answer my questions. With his help, and through prayer, and as I studied each Scripture, God hit me over the head with the truth of the doctrine of The Church of the Nazarene. I was awed and astounded then by God’s grace, His patience with me, and His amazing love for me, and continue still today to be astonished as God reveals more of His character to me as I grow in my relationship with Him. I worship Him.
As I read and studied the Articles of Faith in 2002, I learned about entire sanctification. I understood it a little from the Article of Faith and the Scriptures that I read, and I really wanted to be entirely sanctified, and to experience a second work of grace that was emotional & extremely memorable. I kept trying to figure out what I needed to do. I read a book about it, talked with our youth pastor, and took lot of notes on every sermon Pastor Ken taught about it. I worked hard to improve my personal prayer times & to be consistent in my Bible reading and memorization. Someone finally helped me to understand that while all that I was doing was good, sanctification, like salvation, is a free gift of grace from God, and there were no works that I needed to do to receive it. I must simply ask God to bring about that work in me, believe that He could & would do so in His time, and wait on Him to do so. In 2004 at a closing Sunday evening Camp Meeting service, I went to the altar seeking sanctification, and received an amazing peace from God as I surrendered completely to Him. I praised Him for doing the work of entire sanctification in me.
In January of 2007, I had to go on bed rest for 5 months due to some problems with my fourth pregnancy. I did not do well without going to church. I found out that I really need the body of Christ, my fellow believers! They help keep me accountable to do my daily devotions. I need the corporate worship to help me to remember to worship at home. I need to remember to give thanks instead of worrying about all the things that I cannot do, or do not have. That time grew darker and darker for me as I strayed farther and farther from Christ. Without communication, my relationship, even though it was a relationship with the Divine God, began to die. By Easter that year, I was not even sure that I believed that God was really real. I truly doubted His existence. People were praying for me, but I don’t think that any of them knew how bad I was spiritually. They knew of my physical problems though, and prayed for those. I think some people must have just prayed for me overall, and a few must have prayed for my spiritual needs as well, even though they didn’t know how desperate those spiritual needs were. By May I at least had glimmers of hope that God was real, and those brought with them the realization that I had many sins to confess & repent. Going before God was hard to do. There was a wall of pride in the way, and a mountain of doubt that it would do any good for me to go back to God to confess and repent. I thought I was hopeless and unable to be changed.
Late that summer, as the postpartum depression began to lesson, I began to re-learn that it’s God I need to have faith in, not me. And then, I had to let go of my selfishness. When I finally did turn back to God and confess my sins & repent, I was overwhelmed by His grace & His love. I thought for sure there would be harsh punishments for my sins that would include an inability for me to feel His presence and His love. But He just kept sending wave after wave of His great love to wash over me, all the while making His presence there with me feel stronger. And as He did, my unworthiness was in my face. I knew God was very real and counted the many, many ways He’d blessed me while I was turned away from Him. I thanked Him for not giving up on me, for drawing me back, and for the way that He would help me to re-establish my relationship with Him, and how He would help me to make & keep new real and lasting commitments to Him. I knew that everything was not going to go back quickly to the way it was before. I soon realized that I needed to seek a new and better life with Christ, and look ahead towards Him and the way that He was now leading onward, instead of looking back and longing for the connection with Him that used to be. I saw that it was going to take a long time, but I was finally okay with growing slowly in Christ, with the Holy Spirit in me, me knowing that He is really real, and Him knowing me fully, and still loving me. Entire sanctification came again later, though it was not as momentous an occasion this time, and I never did make note of the date that it happened. I just breathed a prayer of thanksgiving at the realization of God’s ever further extending grace to me.
On Sunday evening, May 31, 2009, at the altar, during the first camp meeting service of the week, I heard Jesus ask me repeatedly, “Do you love me? Do you really love me?” And each time I answered yes, He said, “Feed my lambs; care for my sheep.” I understood that I was being called into full time ministry. I saw a very real image of me on the beach right with Peter, looking at Jesus in John 21. Yet, I struggled with this direct call to ministry, not sure if I could accept it. On Thursday, June 4th, 2009, during the beautiful Ordination service preached by Dr. Nina G. Gunter, I could no longer deny the very real call to ministry from God. I accepted the call without knowing to what exactly I am called. I am open to the Lord’s leading. I am humbly moving forward on the elder track of ministerial training, and serving God as an associate pastor at the Hartford City Church of the Nazarene. I am honored to be called by God, and trusting Him to guide me as I grow in Him through the instruction and mentoring of my elders. It is an amazing privilege to have God speak through me as I teach and preach the Word of God; it is a responsibility that I do not take lightly. I am so grateful for all those who are teaching me, and for all those who are willing to listen to me and learn from me. God has placed a lot of amazing people in my life, and He has revealed many of His characteristics through them to me, drawing me to Himself -- that is beautiful: to see God in others as they interact with me, and to be drawn to God because of them. And that is my prayer: that others would see God in me as I interact with them, and that they would be drawn to Jesus .
By Lisa High, Hartford City Church of the Nazarene