In the beginning was a mess, and her name was Jill. Growing up, I rarely went to church. I went as a requirement when I stayed with my grandparents. That was only once every few months, and that frequency didn’t begin until high school. At the age of twenty, my grandparents passed away. That ended the prerequisite for spending weekends in Hopewell. In the spring of 1991, I walked to the front of the church and confessed that I believed that Jesus is the Son of God, died for my sins and rose again on the third day. I then asked him to come into my heart (I think). My first thoughts after that were “what do I do now?”. I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that I was going to heaven. Everyone was smiling, after service, except me. I couldn’t just go home and pick up my life where I left off. Could I? My journey had begun and I didn’t have a clue where I was headed.
At the time of my conversion, most of the leaders at First Baptist Church assumed that the granddaughter of Deacon and Deaconess Brown had a better understanding of what it meant to be “saved”. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. I knew that something was supposed to change in my lifestyle, but had no idea what those changes were and how they were going to come about. I continued to attend church, hoping to learn something. Each attendance left me more and more intimidated and frustrated. I had never read the Bible and didn’t know that I was supposed to be made a disciple for Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20). Corne’ Bekker describes making disciples, in the Call to Formation, as making “apprentices for Christ”. Because of this lack of knowledge, my lifestyle didn’t change right away. Within a year I was pregnant and trying to break free from an abusive relationship.
Shortly before my daughter was born, my sister accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. She immediately began to learn, grow and transform into someone completely different from the girl I grew up with. I didn’t realize, at the time, that she was being taught and encouraged to read and follow the Word of God. Let me add that she was at a different church, in a different state. By the time my daughter was born, I was longing for that joy and peace that my sister had. I wanted to know what she knew. I attempted to read the Bible. The King James translation had me so confused that I would read a little and then stop for months at a time. My wonderful sister decided to help by sending me a Strong’s Concordance. I had never seen one before and had no idea what to do with it. I had it for three years before I ever knew what a treasure it was.
One day, when my daughter was two, I was watching a television program that transformed my entire life. Of course, I didn’t know it at the time. I was watching a television ministry and following along with my Bible. I was actually able to understand what I was reading and how it applied to my life. He then ended the program with the statement “Be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only”. At that moment, my hunger for knowledge had gone into overdrive. Within six months, I was attending church, Sunday school and Bible study regularly. I had fallen, head over heels, in love with the Lord. The more I studied, the more I wanted to know.
Through studying the Word of God, my mind and lifestyle changed rapidly. The Apostle Paul instructed the church in Rome to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2 NASB). I continue, even now, in the “process of being formed into the image of Christ” (Bekker). I don’t know who coined the phrase, but I strongly believe that “knowledge is power”.
The above was originally written for a class in 2014. Over the years I have hit many bumps in the road (also known as stumbling blocks). Some of them were even self inflicted. I still have to be corrected, often. What wonderful is understanding that God is a loving and merciful God. Even in times of correction, there is a message of hope; an opportunity for NEW BEGINNINGS.