My testimony begins when I was a teenager and believed I didn’t have a testimony to share. I had come to the age where I encountered a faith crisis—the developmental point where a child makes their faith their own and no longer just accepts their parents’ faith as theirs. I had heard so many stories of deliverance…deliverance from drugs, alcohol, sex. These were the “big” testimonies that are made up of miracles and because I hadn’t been delivered in such a way I began to question whether or not I had really been delivered at all.
I grew up in a Christian family and a small country church. We had a great church family whose love of God was there but maybe could’ve used some accountability in what they taught--or perhaps a better way to say it is—in what they failed to teach. I loved God and had some scriptures memorized but there was a huge gap between that and a true understanding of God, salvation and relationship…and I’d never even heard the word sanctification. And so it is because of this lack of understanding that I set out to create a testimony for myself. I thought it would be a good time in my life to go out and do the things that I wanted to do, things that I knew weren’t right and wouldn’t be approved of by God or my parents. I did this knowing that when I was done doing all I wanted, that God would be there ready to forgive me. I later found Romans 6:1, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!” Boy did I wish I’d read that ahead of time!
During these few years in my life I was “living on the fence”. I did what I wanted during the week and was in church every Sunday because I knew that’s where I needed to be. I even remember asking my Sunday School teachers, “What if you’re doing something that you know is wrong and aren’t sorry?” A good friend and Godly woman, my teacher, replied that if I’d talk to God about it, she believed he’d bring me to a point of Godly sorrow over whatever it was. So that is what I did. And that is what He did.
I was now in my early years of college and dating a boy from high school. I knew he wasn’t a Christian but still chose to see him. I remember clearly that God spoke to me and said that I needed to choose. He’d waited for me during this time that I was living two different lives and it was time to get off the fence. I could either continue seeing this boy or I could choose Him but I couldn’t have it both ways. As much as I loved the boy, I didn’t even have to think about it because I knew I’d be a fool to choose him over God. It was a very dark time in my life because after that it seemed that God stripped many things out of my life to bring me fully back to him. I lost friends, I lost my independence, I lost my own place and had to move back in with my parents. But I can honestly say that I had never been that close to God before and it remains one of the best times I’ve ever had with Him.
It was during all this transition that I had also begun attending a different church. It was a church that went so much deeper into the Word and relationship than I’d ever been. It was here that I finally understood that I could know for sure that I was saved and I didn’t need to be miraculously delivered from a particular sin because Christ had died to deliver me from all sin. I also began to learn about sanctification and I remember telling God as I drove down the road one day that He could have all of me and even when I didn’t want to cooperate He could have control of my life and keep working on me until I did cooperate. My life really began to change and get back on track. I once again heard God speak to my heart and call me to Indiana Wesleyan so that I could serve Him in ministry. I was so excited that, that very day, I went into the school office, where I was attending at the time, and got the information on what I needed to do to change the degree I was pursuing so that I could finish early and transfer to IWU.
A big part of me wishes that I would’ve started at IWU from the beginning because it was an intense time of learning about scripture, God and myself. I was in the perfect place for me because I was finally in God’s will. But His timing is perfect and it was while I was at Indiana Wesleyan that my life took another big turn. God brought into my path the boy who was right for me. I met my husband, Tim. We were in a class together and just talked between classes but when the class ended, so did seeing each other. We didn’t see each other again for several months but in the fall of 2003 I was in my final semester and every class I went to, Tim was just leaving the same room. We began spending a lot of time together and a little over a year later we were married. He started out as a youth pastor while I worked in a couple of different jobs until a Children’s Director position opened up at our church. I was finally in my dream job! We also began our family and God blessed us with two girls (and just recently a precious little boy!).
After a short time as a discipleship pastor, Tim felt called to pursue a lead pastorship and God really began working on both of us. We believed that because God called him there would be something available immediately. We were so wrong! We waited and waited and waited and waited some more. There was lots of prayer and when one of us was discouraged the other would encourage and it flip-flopped quite often. But once again, God’s timing is perfect and He was teaching us that. While we were waiting and thought that nothing was happening, God was busy at work. It’s a long but very cool story how we ended up moving to Elkhart Northside Nazarene and it’s the perfect place for us because we are in God’s will. I have continued to be challenged by God and have dug deeper into scripture. Whenever I think I’m doing pretty good in my walk because I’m comparing myself to others, He redirects me to compare how I’m doing with what His Word says and how Jesus walked and I am overwhelmed by all that I am seeing in myself—all that God delivered me from and continues to deliver me from because it’s not pretty. He is revealing sin in my life that I had NO idea was there. While it could look pretty hopeless in overcoming it all, I’m not—I’m excited. I’m excited because of another scripture I’ve discovered over the past decade, “because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son (or daughter).” –Hebrews 12:6
I once had another dear friend and woman of God come up to me in the middle of a service to tell me that God had shown her my face and he wanted her to tell me that he called me Faithful. Me. Who had been SO unfaithful.
I will change your name. You shall no longer be called Wounded, Outcast, Lonely, or Afraid. I will change your name. Your new name shall be Confidence, Joyfulness, Overcoming One…Faithfulness, Friend of God, One who seeks My Face. –I Will Change Your Name by D.J. Butler
By Trina Sheets, Elkhart Northside Church of the Nazarene