I will never cease to be amazed at the way the Father draws people to himself by his mercy and undeserved favor. How did he invite you into fellowship with himself, through Christ, by the Spirit? Or how is he inviting you even now?
I grew up hearing testimonies of young leaders who met Christ for the first time as teenagers and their lives drastically changed like the flipping of a light switch. Darkness to light. Just like that. At times, I have wished that I had a testimony that involved a radical turning point of following Christ like that.
My story is more of an unfolding though, one that began with the "first light of the morning at sunrise" that brought hope and comfort to a five year old Claire who was afraid of what could await her on the other side of a surgery -- what would await her in the "dark".
I vividly remember sitting in the backseat of the car with my brothers on the eve of my fifth birthday and praying to trust in Jesus, with the help and guidance of my mom as she drove down the highway. This simple, but honest, cry of a scared five-year-old was met with the presence and hope of the Gospel.
This message of hope was delivered to me by my parents then, and then throughout my childhood repeatedly, and I am forever grateful. The fear that gripped me at five was something that the Lord redeemed then in part and then continued to redeem in the years to come. I can say that it is a miracle that I'm not daily walking in fear and anxiety.
It may not be fear anymore that daily constrains me, but he's still delivering me from my sin ("which clings so closely," as Hebrews 12 says). He's continually in the business of saving (beyond just one prayer!), of bringing us back to himself when we've wandered off.
The light keeps dawning again and again, like the sunrise, as his mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). He changes hearts, not only upon the day you were saved, but every day after that (1 Thessalonians 5:23). We still run this race with endurance after the day we first believed.
What I can say from both my testimony and the ones of those brave young believers and leaders here in Czech whom I so admire is this: that God would reconcile us to himself through Christ is a miracle every single time. No matter what your background is, if you have been drawn into right relationship with our holy God through repentance and faith, you are a testimony of his powerful grace.
This brings me to today.
This is "Dorost," our church's ministry with 9-13 year-olds. Many of these kids come from Christian families in our church, which is beautiful. The other exciting part about today was that some of those kids invited their classmates to dorost, and we had the most delightful little group of newcomers today for a snow party and cafe afternoon.
This is one of those young leaders I was talking about earlier that I so admire - she is awesome, and I am so grateful she's on the dorost team.
Cupcakes and hot chocolate were prepared by one of our junior-highers and served beautifully to a group of energetic dorost kids who came inside to warm up after snow games.
I couldn't help but wonder what the Lord was doing on a simple day like today. What will their stories be?
Perhaps he is strengthening the love these kids have for Him as they serve and play together.
Maybe the Father is saying, "come and see... see what I have done and what I will do!" (Psalm 66:5) to the kids who were here for the first time.
One of those 6th-grade girls said, "Will you be here next time? I didn't even know something like this existed, but I'd like to come back!" Maybe he is already writing her invitation to His goodness? Oh, I pray He is!
And maybe today, and tomorrow, and the next day, is what God will use to bring about another testimony in these kids' lives, and in my own as well. It might not be a light-switch story. Or it could be. It could also be the dawning sun, a glimmer of light that will then continue to burst out and shine bright as day for eternity.
"Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation." - 2 Corinthians 5