New Life in Christ
How God Wants to Use You-Ready or Not!
By Kristin Anderson, SRCFC Board Member
The newest Solid Rock member in the Mid-Atlantic region is an amazing lady who I have loved the privilege of getting to know. I met Ali in January when she was in my Sport Leading 1 class at Sportrock. We kept running into each other at the gym after the class was over and started climbing together, just before the big snow storms hit in February (biggest on record here in Northern Virginia). Thankfully, Ali has four-wheel-drive and lives relatively close to me, so she was kind enough to rescue me from my snow-bound house in the woods for multiple climbing gym and sledding adventures over the next few weeks.
As we started spending more time together, we realized that we have a lot in common: we both LOVE climbing, dogs, the environment, hippie culture, and long to contribute to making a positive difference in the world. We both are seeking to find jobs & communities away from the city where we now live, and struggle with making connections here when we desire to move elsewhere. We also both had a really rough year in 2009.
In February, we planned to climb on a Sunday at the gym, and I asked her if she would like to join me for church beforehand. She was excited at the prospect, and enjoyed it a lot. Right about the same time my best friend (from PA) emailed to ask me if I would like to join her in reading through the Gospel of John, one chapter per day. We invited other friends to join us as well, and I thought I would send the email to Ali to see if she were interested. I am so used to sharing my faith with people who are not very interested, so I admit (embarrassingly) that I was shocked at her excitement and inspired by her eagerness. She set aside a journal for her thoughts and committed to reading her Bible daily. We began running together and hanging out regularly, and visited four different churches in three weeks! (She joined me in my search for a community of worship).
The week before Easter we attended a service at Reston Bible Church. Ironically, we both had expected a more inspiring message on Palm Sunday, but we liked the pastor, the band, and the feel of the church. They invited us to Conversations, an annual production of skits, music, and life stories that they put on for a week each year. We attended the Tuesday night before Easter and were met there by God - through amazing and talented musicians, actors, and some heart-wrenching true life stories of hardship, heartbreak and encouragement. We were both moved to tears and struck by the pastor's closing message.
That night I just couldn't let Ali go without asking her (again) if she wanted profess faith in Christ. I invited her in for tea, even though it was late, and explained to her what it meant to actually confess Jesus as Lord, ask for forgiveness of sins, and receive his amazing gift of salvation and Holy Spirit to guide us through life. I explained why it was important to proclaim such a decision, that it was the biggest decision she would ever make, and it would not make life easy, but rewarding, full of trials. At first she seemed not to be with me, and almost too quickly I said, "Okay, I understand if you're not there yet." However, she quietly interrupted me to say, thoughtfully and peacefully, that she was ready.
I must confess that I didn't share the gospel eloquently, and tripped over my tongue in leading her in a prayer to accept Christ. My years of missions training and experience seemed to abandon me, yet Ali's prayer was simple and beautiful, and afterward she expressed that it was not as hard as she thought, and said, "I really meant it." It was apparent... she was ready. God had been pursuing her for her whole life, and His perfect timing brought about the unlikely sequence of events that ultimately drew her to Him. The tough circumstances in her life in the past year, the snow storm, the reading of the book of John, our friendship, attending RBC just in time to be invited to Conversations the week before Easter... it all points to God's Sovereignty.
After years of traveling on the road and mission work (I have served several terms as an On-the-Road Missionary with SRCFC), I am so humbled and honored to be used by God here in my hometown - NOT on the mission field! I had a rough year, and was just trying to restore some things in my life that were important to me, like climbing regularly at the gym...and then, in the lowest place I've been spiritually in years, God used me as His instrument! The Holy Spirit is the one who brings conviction and who pursues the hearts of people; sometimes we just get the amazing privilege of holding their hand in the process.
Ali continues to seek God with a beautiful and humble heart, challenging me to seek God more and more daily as well. We enrolled in a 10-week Starting Point Class at RBC and we climb, pray and read the Bible together often. We are both still often discouraged by the obstacles we face in our respective lives and sometimes the difficulty in simply believing. Yet we know that there is nothing else in this earth worth pursuing, and encourage each other to stay in the word of God. (My current encouragement is found in Psalm 25, among others.) We both ask for your prayers in searching for jobs, places to live, and communities of faith wherever God may lead us. We pray that God would be glorified in our lives and in our climbing!
As a good friend reminded me this week, the strength of our faith rests not on the size of our faith, but the object - Jesus Christ. May you be encouraged that God is loving you now, wherever you are, and can use you now, no matter your circumstances or failures. After all, He is GOD!!