Ben & Joy (pictured above) are no strangers to Athens or our church plant. Yet, last Sunday, it was so encouraging to hear Joy’s testimony—to hear what we did not know.
Joy grew up in the church & knew a lot about Jesus, but that’s not the end of the story. Read along to see how God opened her eyes to see more about him & her need.
Liar, thief, manipulator, lawbreaker, murderous in my thoughts, filled with extreme fears. Caring too much about the opinion of others, selfish and self-indulgent, hateful, ungodly and filled with kinds of evil. This is a description of my heart without Christ, but it took a long time before I believed it.
I was raised in a Christian home. My father was a minister and I was born in the middle of vacation bible school. I prayed to receive Christ at age 5 in our home. I was baptized by my dad at 7 and shared the ABCs of Christianity for the first time in Kindergarten. However, the “A” admit that you’re a sinner part always seemed a little more for “them” and not for me.
I attended youth camps and was discipled by a college student while in junior high. God used His Word to inform my decisions in life and I was passionate about others hearing about God and His plans for their lives.
My freshman year of college, during a school-wide chapel service, a local pastor preached from Romans on the depravity of man. My heart broke over the fact that I had never really understood that truth. In reality I had never truly recognized MY need for a Savior. I began to read scripture like never before to study this truth. I began to see how sin deeply marked my life, even though on the outside I appeared to “have it all together.” I began to see how nothing I could do could ever remove the guilt and shame of my sin.
I began to see myself as the sinner I told you about in the beginning.
Yet, it hasn’t always been easy. When I first got married, I thought I knew how to be a perfect wife because I had read so many books on godly marriages. God humbled me to a pile on the floor of our apartment when I couldn’t even plan meals for two. I thought I had parenting figured after reading and consulting many godly resources after child number 1 but God quickly, in his kindness, gave us with child number 2 and 3 so that I would be reminded of my desperation for Him as I cared for 3 under 3. I thought I had life in a manageable place until God changed our life plan 3 years ago and took us on a journey proving Psalm 16:9, “a man’s heart plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.”
In the end, I rejoice because even though I am still a sinner, my understanding of my sin has led me to understand my need for a Savior and to rejoice over the Savior God has provided in Jesus. Because of Jesus, no sin defines me. In fact, they are no longer mine; Jesus took them all away, too far away for me to ever reach. Jesus bore God’s righteous wrath reserved for me and now truly all I know is grace!