Keeping Quiet About Our Faith

You really shouldn’t keep so quiet about your faith. Why? Because God is never quiet about how much He loves you.

This has been on my mind since the shooting in Roseburg, Oregon. What if I had been there? What if I had been among those who were killed for their faith? Would anyone be surprised by my answer when asked to state my religion? I hope not, but the truth is that I’m just not sure. I think some people might be and I’m not okay with that. God makes it perfectly clear how much He loves me. Why is it so hard to return that love?

Jesus died on the cross to save me from my sins. Without this sacrifice, I’d spend eternity in hell, separated from the God I love. Some folks have questioned the need for Jesus to die on a cross. Why couldn’t God achieve our Salvation another way? He is God. He could just grant it out of the goodness of His heart. Good question. I believe there’s a multitude of reasonable responses, but I prefer this – He loves us so much He humbled Himself in the most unmistakable way possible to drive that point home. He died as a criminal, being entirely blameless.

I want to be just like Jesus.

Christianity seems to be going the way of dinosaurs. Evolution is tromping all over what’s already here. In the desire for the latest and greatest way of thinking and doing things, Christianity is being choked out of society. We’re being persecuted for actively living out our faith.  When Christianity becomes illegal, I’ll still be worshipping God. I hope I’ll be brave enough to do it openly, inspiring others to do the same.

There is so much evil in this world, but it does not define us! We are washed clean by the blood of the Lamb. We are filled with the Holy Spirit and we are carefully watched over by God’s mighty hand.

God will never leave us or forsake us. He will save us from every trouble we encounter here on earth. You have likely heard or read my testimony already, but if you have not, here it is in a cliff’s notes version:

I was born to a broken mother. My biological father was a drug abuser who beat my mother and my older, handicapped half-sister. My mother escaped that hell only to have me kidnapped by my bio-father for two weeks before I was found and returned to her. Eventually, he spent 8 years in federal prison for drug trafficking. I was not told of his existence until I was ten years old. By then, I’d already been abused sexually, emotionally and physically for 8 years by several men – mainly by my step father who married my mother when I was two years old. I was in talk therapy, recovering from the abuse. I’d reported it to local authorities not long before receiving this news. Unfortunately,  I never reported any man other than my step father until after the statute of limitations was up. By then, all I could do was pray for any other potential victims.

My step father and mother are still married. The emotional abuse never stopped. At age 14, just four years after my reporting the crime, my step father pushed his way back into my home, legally. Child protective services and the courts watched it happen. No one intervened. I died inside. I attempted suicide twice, a year apart.

Fortunately, my maternal grandmother had been taking me to church since I was three years old. I had my own Bible and I read it often. God’s name was not foreign to me, but His love was. I felt it was choked out by all the evil in my life. Looking back, I can see it’s evidence now. I couldn’t then.

I met my husband at thirteen. Anthony began sowing seeds of friendship and trust. He is the first good man I ever allowed myself to love and to trust. I’m grateful for his patience. We married in 2006 and it’s been a beautifully ragged journey.

I suffered several miscarriages and struggled to form a deep relationship with God. Never knowing who to trust, I struck out at others often. I blamed myself for my sister’s tragic death in 2003, never got over the loss of my grandmother in 2000 and still bore the shame of a sex abuse survivor. Memories came to the surface with the birth of my daughters, and kept coming as they hit certain milestones. I was deeply afflicted by PTSD  (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and I nearly  destroyed both my marriage and my husband’s short career in the U.S. Navy.

I found healing in a funny little rag-tag church in Lake Stevens, WA. The Pastor was an ex drug user from Vegas. He was also Italian. (This is important because he had a big personality and still does, though he now preaches elsewhere.) Pastor Mike’s passion for God reignited my own. I fought for healing, begged for it! God granted it. I watched sin after sin fall away. I watched God restore. Then I watched Him take away.

Though God removed my sins, others judged me harshly for them still. I’d spent years lying, cheating on my husband, stealing from friends and coveting what everyone else had. I lost nearly everyone but my husband, kids and Pastor Mike.

We moved to the Yakima valley in Washington state after my husband’s six-year enlistment was up. I had connected with my biological father at the age of 18. Desperate for a change, further healing and for a father’s love, I moved us to be closer to him. It was a mistake. A few months later, I found myself in court begging for a restraining order to prevent my father from trying to kill me again. He’d tried just a few weeks prior. I was granted a rare permanent restraining order, meaning that he can never in my lifetime, my kids or my husband’s, come within 500 feet of us. God is merciful.

We moved back to Oregon a couple of weeks after that. My husband started work at a new job shortly afterwards. He’s now working in the same jail that both of my father’s have been housed in, many years prior. It’s funny how God works these details out. Evil tried to win, but in the end, God restored everything and then some.

Our third child, a son (finally!) was born this past May. I’d prayed for years for a boy. He looks just like my husband. Our girls look just like me. God is good. He never gives up on us. He never leaves us, never forsakes us.

I have so much growing still to do. I know God will perform many more miracles in my life because He loves me and His strength is shown in my weakness.

I love God and I know He loves me. He desperately loves you, too.

Forgive your enemies. I forgave mine. God removed me from my family and gave me a new family. My mother in law is awesome and I’m praying God restores my relationship with my sister-in-law. She’s amazing, too.

Sometimes forgiveness means moving on and away from those who harmed you. I still pray for my fathers and my mother. They’re very weak and I know that since God is very strong He will show His power to them and through them too. I just won’t be there to see it most likely. That’s okay though.  I’m sure we’ll be reunited in Heaven someday and there they can be a part of my life again.

I trust God to make or not make that happen. Until then, I’m going to keep loving Him and sharing my story.

You should not keep so quiet about your faith. Why? Because God is never quiet about how much He loves you.

In Christ,

Mandy ❤

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