To understand my faith in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, I would have to start with my childhood.
As a child growing up I was not raised in what I would consider a Christian home. Was we taught to believe in God? Yes. Was we taught to pray to God? Yes. We was also taught to give thanks to God for the good things done in our lives, but still yet I do not re-call that being done as it should’ve. I guess one could say the foundation was laid but was never enforced.
Did we attend church together as a family on Sunday to worship and praise our Father in Heaven? No. I remember going to church to the Baptist church right next door to my house and my parents only going once with me, it was an Easter Sunday. If, I attended church on Sunday mornings it was solely because I chose to do so on my own.
So as a young girl growing up, I did know that going to church was something we should do and it was something to be proud of. But nobody around me seemed to share that pride or joy with me. I was raised it was very good to go to church “But” going to church was not something you had to do. As long as you loved God and believed in God and had God in your heart you could still get to heaven and God would still answer your prayers. Do I believe this still? Yes. For the simple fact God turns his back on nobody, he will not forsake you. So of course growing up I made choices that I was not taught were “Bad” things to do and I also made “Bad” choices that I knew was bad, but it was ok because God would still love me and forgive me when I asked.
I was once saved when I was young during what I believe was a vacation bible school, or even a day church camp of some sort, it was son long ago I can’t remember for sure. But I remember sharing my experience and news when I returned home and was told by a person who I wish not to expose, was not my parents, that it wasn’t a big deal that they get you to these things and make you feel like that’s what you “Have” to do. I now know this person was wrong – VERY WRONG! You see even then God was calling me to him, for he knew I needed him as much as he needed me. But I did not follow that happiness and joy I felt in my heart. I listened to those who thought I was a stupid child being persuaded by the influences around me. So, I shrugged it off and followed suit of what everybody else around me did growing up.
I played with things I shouldn’t have, I said things I shouldn’t have and I definitely did things I shouldn’t have. Now don’t get me wrong these things were all my choices to make, but as an adult and a mother now I do feel maybe I wouldn’t have made so many of them had I been raised in the house of our Father. I have been to many churches over the years and I have been saved a few times. But it was not until I was at my lowest of lows that I realized what God could do for me.
I have lost many loved ones dear to me. Some due to natural causes and some to things that I just don’t understand suicides, drug abuse and murder. And in tragedies such as sudden unanswered deaths we become a victim of vulnerability. Which makes us vulnerable to bad things, dark things, to things that are unexplainable unless you have ever experienced them. all of these deaths and darkness impacted me and caused me to question God’s motives and to ask the one question that just isn’t mean to be answered, “Why?”
If was not until I lost one of my very best friends in my life, my brother, the person who grew up with me, that protected me, and loved every bit of little ol’ me for me and nothing more, that my faith in Jesus can tumbling down – WAY DOWN! Unlike all the other loss’s I had been through I could not grasp onto the reality of his death. I didn’t want him gone, wasn’t my sister he took from us 15 years ago enough? At this time I became angry with God. I despised him for hurting my family again, at one point I even considered it to be hatred. That scared me! It scared me that I could hate the one person who had given me so much to be grateful for. I was lost.
Which lead me to some choices that I made without anybody’s knowledge, most importantly my husbands. Should I have made that decision? Probably not. Do I regret it, No I do not. You see, that bad decision I made, made the one person that I chose to spend the rest of my life with question my faith in God – his exact question was “Have you turned your back on Jesus?” That question broke my heart. I never looked at what I had done that way. Of course I’m sure you can imagine the war that statement caused. After a day or so of debating back and forth he asked me the one question that changed my life forever, “Will you go talk to Pastor Dave about this?” Of course my answer was yes, because I knew that regardless of the outcome over who was right or who was wrong, we had both been struggling for quite some time and it was becoming exhausting. We was tired.
Now after 5 days of trying to track down Pastor Dave you would’ve thought one would’ve given up – but we did not, or shall I say God did not. Pastor Dave returned our call and invited to his home. Now I really don’t think Pastor Dave quite expected all he got that evening but not only was his door open but most of all his heart. He not only heard our cry for help but he listened. He listened as I cried over the loss of my sister and most recently my brother and how I was struggling to find peace and comfort in things that was not of God’s way. He listened as we drug out all of our hurts, angers and frustrations with each other. BUT we also listened, we listened to his words of wisdom and knowledge of the things we had not considered we was doing wrong. And our number one wrong was not living by God’s word.
|At the end of our chat that evening Pastor Dave told us what we needed to do as couple and as a family and afterwards he prayed with us. After his prayer he asked me if I felt better, if I felt peace and I told him “yes” because I knew I felt better but I was very exhausted from all the stress and heartache, so only God knew how I truly felt that evening. But I knew what I or we had to do when we left there. We went home and had a little family, and for those that know us, would say that is definitely our way. We explained to not only our kids but to his mother and father that things was going to change and be better. that we as a “FAMILY” was going to live by Gods word and whoever or whatever didn’t like it, well that was just tough. But we as a family needed saved. All was very happy by this decision. I will always remember our oldest daughter, Kyla looking at me with a worried expression saying “Mom, are you and Dad ok?’ And I looked at her and said, without a doubt “We will be now.”|
|That night we prayed together as husband and wife the protectors of our family. Now as I said only God truly knew how I was feeling that night we had left Pastor Dave’s home. But knowing the amazing Pastor we have, I know he continued his prayers not only that, but the week after and still to this day. Because that next morning after when I opened my eyes, for the first in a long time I felt a warmth that started in my heart and overflooded my body and in that moment I knew it was God giving me my peace and comfort I was yearning for. I knew in that moment that he had me, his child and he was going to do great things in my new life. It was in that moment I said “Jesus, I am yours, you have my heart, I am listening.” I call this my “Aha” moment.|
|After that moment God has continued to show me his signs of his love, his existence and that he indeed does answer prayers. He touches my heart daily and that’s his way of telling me “I am here, I am listening!” And if and when I come to my next lowest of lows I will remember that “Aha” moment and that will forever keep me in my faith with Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior!|
|~ Since I wrote this testimony God and I have developed such an in depth personal relationship that I never possibly imagine could exist. I have learned that all these years that I was waiting for my husband Denny to save me, well that was just beyond his means, there’s only one true way to be able to let go of all that hurt, anger and resentment and that is to believe and trust our faith in God. My marriage has improved by ten times and I know God has big plans for me, I feel him encouraging me to keep going and to keep spreading my enthusiasm, love and passion for him, you can not deny the true feeling that this Man Jesus gives you. It is a blessing that will not go away until your mission or plan is completed.|
|God Bless each and everyone that reads this. I hope it can touch someone who may be lost, broken or maybe has just given up on God and lead them back to our Savior.|
|Jessyca Lynn Hayes|