Saturday, June 1, 2013

My Testimony of Faith (as shared for Church Membership)

My Testimony of Faith

           Good morning everyone. You know me as Christina Doerksen, wife to Wayne and mother to Hanna, Jake and Peter. I’ve been a part of your fellowship for the last seven years and today it is my desire to officially make myself at home here through membership.  I want to share my story of faith with you and I’ll be using the passage of scripture that has for many years been very close to my heart. Ecclesiastes 3:1 states that ‘to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.’  Through different seasons of my life I have rejoiced in the purposes of God and also gone through times of questioning His sovereignty, struggling to place my trust in His will. It seems most often that it is now in hindsight that I understand the way he has planned and purposed my life.

A time to be born: Twenty seven years ago, my mom, at the age of forty one, gave birth to me. I was a latecomer; a baby that doctors were determined to see aborted. My mom, a woman of strong spirit, put her trust in God that I would be born safe and sound.  I grew up in the Pine Creek area with hard working parents who raised me on Mennonite values and life in simple farming fashion. I was a little girl who loved sitting on my dad’s lap and listen to him sing and have my mom read endless stories to me. I was mostly a happy, carefree child who used my imagination to keep myself entertained and explore life. However I was not oblivious to struggles and dark times that were present in our family home and I coped by seeking attention and approval, trying hard to be a good girl. I heard much about God through bible stories, Sunday school and I picked up a lot through the conversations around me. I remember very clearly hearing the phrase ‘the fear of the Lord’ and in my small mind I took that to heart in fear. I repeatedly asked Jesus into my heart out of fear that I would do something to turn Him away. I was so afraid of not waking in the morning, and with fears of the dark and hellfire, I made sure to my make wrongs right before I closed my eyes each night.  I was quick to pick up on the thing God hates and resolved never to do them. I didn’t understand the love and grace of Jesus, and salvation wasn’t a word that was spoken of much.  I learned at home that I needed to commit myself to God and live for Him. I tried hard, my intentions were good, but looking back I see how the harder I tried to be a good girl the more selfish I became. I sought attention and approval for the things I did right, felt sorry for myself when things went wrong and battled anxieties over the things I feared. Much of this was beneath the surface as I still lived a mostly happy, innocent childhood.

Teenage years brought in a new season of life. It seems as bodies grow so do the matters of the heart that lie beneath the surface. A time of questioning, reasoning, doubting and trying to find out who God wanted me to be. I was terrified of high school and I let that fear bring out insecurities, remaining silent, and embarrassed to show who I really was. I struggled with being the only teen in my school that had a lifestyle such as mine. I went through times of wondering why God had placed me in a family that seemed old fashioned to the way peers around me were living. I applied myself to excelling in my schoolwork and shyly trying my best to fit in. Too often I remember quickly mumbling grace into my lunch bag and hoping people would ask me no questions.  On the inside I often felt jealousy over the popular girls, wished that I had the confidence they had, the relationships they had.  For several years I attended young people’s group at church. I couldn’t wait until Wednesday nights and weekends to be with the Mennonite friends and family I loved to be with, where I could be outgoing and be myself.  By the time I reached Grade 12 I kind of had created two versions of myself and then the lure of partying became tempting. Drinking brought a new kind of momentary confidence, I liked how it made me feel, the attention it brought. It was temporary fun, a chasing of the wind as Solomon says in Ecclesiastes.  I look back now and I though I’ve needed God’s forgiveness for many of the ways I acted in my teenage years ; I also don’t wish it had been done any differently. Even though high school was a challenge I am thankful for the few friends I had along that journey to laugh with, walk the halls with, friends who accepted me for the way I was.  I look back now and see why God allowed me deal with teenage woes I had and the choices I made. He knew I didn’t need a different family, a different personality, different looks, and different friends.  He knew the reasons why I would struggle, He knew the choices I would make and it’s okay because He had set eternity in my heart when He placed me in this world. The seasons that I trusted His purpose I knew more of Him and the times I drifted my conscience never ceased to burn a hole in my soul, still always calling back to the One who could really satisfy. He knew all along that He would use those years to create in me a restless yearning to turn all of me over to Him, to realize that selfish pursuits hold no value to what He offers eternally. 
A time to mourn. In October of 2004 God took me through the loss of my dad. He died suddenly from a massive stroke while driving his tractor. It was a mind numbing, heart wrenching time to not be able to say goodbye and yet having to. I struggled with feeling cheated out of time with my dad, I was only eighteen and I wanted him to walk me down the aisle someday; to bounce my children on his knee.  My siblings had so much more time with him and it felt so unfair. I didn’t want to deal with grief and mourning at this time in my life. I just wanted my friends and happy times. I was not ready to learn what God wanted to teach me through losing a loved one. It is since becoming a parent that I’ve allowed myself to grieve the loss of my dad and embrace what God has shown me.  He brought healing to me by showing me that I wasn’t cheated out of anything. I had had just enough time with my dad for Jesus to do His work. I’ve learned two lessons from the day my dad died. That morning he went to help my brother move cattle and what usually ended in anger and heated words proved nothing short of a miracle. He simply walked amongst those cattle and said to Mike, just call them softly, they will follow, and that’s exactly what they did. I learned from this that Jesus’ call is soft and loving and I must simply follow. I know my dad followed Jesus home that day. He was a man burdened by many anxieties, reserved in manner yet I saw his soul shine through in his love of music. I believe that no matter how low he became God still always drew him upward. It amazes me that we didn’t find him in that basement where the tractor fell into but rather in the last moments of his life he was able to climb up out of the hole and lay down peacefully. I carry this as a reminder not matter much my burdens threaten to drag me down, God will always be there to help me up.

A time to Love. Shortly after, God graciously brought Wayne into my life. I still remember looking up from the graveside and my eyes met with Wayne through the crowd. I hardly knew him and shortly after he asked to take me on a date.  I was filled with newfound joy, for we quickly fell in love and knew that God had brought us together for a reason.  Party life had grown stale and we knew that wasn’t the path we wanted to stay on. I was renewed in my commitment to God, for I desired a Godly marriage. We were baptized upon confession of our faith at the Reinland Mennonite Church shortly before our wedding. I was eager to attend church together and Wayne expressed his desire to stay in the church he had grown up in. I remember the first time I came here and when Country Praise played their music that morning I was brought to tears for I was reminded so much of my dad and how he loved music. I felt very welcomed and excited to see what God would teach me here.

A time to break down and a time to build up.  We were committed to building up a strong marriage. Though we both wanted to grow in our faith it was the one thing we argued most about.  I had come into marriage with many expectations and also the baggage of my insecurities and fears. I wanted Wayne to fulfill me, to give me the confidence I lacked, to ease my fears. So often I thought he needed to make changes when it was my own pride I needed to break down. Though he has been my encourager and loved me unconditionally I have learned that it is not he who satisfies my soul.  We couldn’t change each other but in turning ourselves to changing for God he drawn us closer together towards Him. In the last five years we have given birth to three beautiful children.  I was so scared of trying to fill my role as a mother. It is a role that has been one of my biggest challenges as I have had to give up my independence and learn to love selflessly. Being a wife and mom has often brought out the worst in me but it is also bringing out the best of what Jesus has purposed me to do. In this journey we have been blessed to have Godly friends and family in our lives that have shared wisdom and prayed. I’m so thankful to have drawn closer in the fellowship of this church. I’m so thankful to my mom who has always encouraged me to be true to myself and my commitment. I’m so thankful that I see the love of Jesus shining through my husband and children. I’m eternally grateful that Jesus is teaching me that my faith doesn’t rest on what I strive to do for Him but on what He has already done for me.  With his endless patience and Grace he is teaching me to let my fears and anxieties subside, to trust Him with confidence and in humility give thanks in all circumstances.

And like Paul says in Philippians 3:12 “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”