Hi! My name is Alisha and I love Jesus.
If you're wondering why I love Jesus, then the easiest way for me to share is to give you 3 "snapshots" of my life. 3 moments of time.
As I was writing this, I started to worry that all of my stories seem kind of hard or sad. But it is through trials that God can kindle a fiery faith in you. It is those hardships where we see God come through for us. I experienced the truth of this verse:
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4 NLT
There are some themes in my testimony:
- There is a theme of God's faithfulness.
- Encouragement of seeing others run the race with endurance
- I have heard of God's faithfulness from those around me, but now I’ve seen with my own eyes
I had heard of Jesus and his lovingkindness via my family and via church, but until you experience him you just don't know the ways he can move. Job 42: 5 says that
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You;”
Job's encounter with the living God completely changed his perspective on his life circumstances.
Story 1: Persecution
My first memorable moment of seriously contemplating my faith happened around Thanksgiving.
Do you worry about drama at your Thanksgiving? Perhaps anyone who is praying against drama?
My Thanksgivings were packed with drama. The most dramatic moment was when my Grandpa would get out a bible and give a devotional. This was not just any bible. It was a Bible written in Armenian, this thing was huge, it looked really old, and it was covered in dried purple blood.
My Grandpa would tell us the story of how this Bible belonged to my great great great grandpa who lived in Urfa turkey during the time of the Armenian Genocide. The authorities told him that the Bible was illegal, and that he needed to stop reading it or there would be consequences.
He had to decide if he would honor the authorities or what God had said. And he chose in favor of God.
I won't go into detail about what happened, but it is violent. He was martyred for his faith. He gave everything for Jesus.
This created some questions in me.
- What is this Jesus that would be worthy of that kind of sacrifice?
- What would it look like to live with this type of boldness and conviction for my own faith
Story 2: Depression and Anxiety
Do you know any teens? It is not easy to be a teenager.
As a young teen I began to struggle with depression and anxiety. It was not fun. However, God showed me some things in the midst of that darkness
He showed me:
- he is with me in the trial
- he wants to speak to me personally
As I was thinking about this period of time, I remember a significant failure - or at least what I considered a failure. I had tried out for worship team with kid's ministry of the church I was attending. That very first week I was scheduled I just could not. I was so anxious, I was in too dark of a place. I totally flaked out.
There is a time for serving when God is calling you to step forward and there is a time to just be with God and allow him to comfort you and show you who he is. There is a time for both.
In retrospect, I can look back and really see how faithful God is because I currently have the privilege of serving on this worship team.
God was faithful to me during that time - faithful to comfort me, to give peace, to put the people around who could support me.
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2 NLT
Story 3: Cancer
I suspect you have had a loved one or friend with a serious illness. Maybe you've experienced a serious illness yourself. I frequently get so tired of these fallible bodies.
Both of my parents have battled cancer, and by the grace of God he healed my mom... twice. But sometimes we just don't understand why God's answer is a "no". My Dad passed at the age of 53 despite all our many prayers.
On the screen you will see a pic of my Dad. A giant of faith.
In what seemed like a snap of the fingers, his whole life changed.
He went from...
- CFO and a wise business man, someone people would come to for advice, to someone who was bedridden, and dependent on his daughter, wife and hospice to have his most basic needs taken care of.
- someone who had always been the planner, methodically using the amazing amount of wisdom God had given him, the sole provider for my mom and his three daughters, to someone who in faith had to be totally dependent on God and God's provision that after he was gone God would provide for the spouse he was leaving behind.
What did I witness during this time? I witnessed God's faithfulness.
Yes, he had intense times of grief and sadness. But he openly declared to me and everyone else who would listen of God's faithfulness. We would have mini "worship sessions" in the evening - just the two of us around the piano. Sometimes my mom would join in as we sang about God's goodness and faithfulness.
There was one thing he kept saying over and over again, and it is profound that God didn't fully reveal this truth to him until the end of his life at the age of 53.
What he said was this:
"I may no longer be the leader of my company, the businessman I have been my whole life. I may no longer be able to be the supportive husband and father I have always been. I may no longer be able to mentor others in the way I have enjoyed.
But one thing I have... I am a child of God."
His identity was never in any of those other blessings of his life. It was in the fact that he was a child of God.
So in conclusion, I say with confidence that God has been so faithful to me. Even through trails. He will be faithful to you too. Your faith story is going to look different than mine but God is using it and he has hand-designed it just for you. And he will be faithful to complete the work that he has started in you.
I WILL SING OF THE LORD'S GREAT LOVE FOREVER; WITH MY MOUTH I WILL MAKE YOUR FAITHFULNESS KNOWN THROUGH ALL GENERATIONS. PSALMS 89:1