Here’s what I shared this morning at Arlington Baptist. Pastor Steve spoke of persevering. During his last point, he invited me up to share my testimony. They showed the pictures on the big screen as I spoke. My foot was asleep, so I hobbled up!! Chad said I didn’t stand close enough to the microphone, but here’s hoping God was glorified. I’ll be honest, if I had heard this message a few years ago, I would have thrown tomatoes at the pastor and that stupid girl sharing her testimony of God’s faithfulness. But…persevere!!!
Last week, when Pastor Steve joked that we were all going to line up this week and share our testimonies after teaching about being generous with our testimonies, I said I would have been the first out of my seat to share. Note to self: Don’t joke with a pastor.
So…he asked me to share the story I love to tell.
I grew up in Raleigh in a loving, Christian, “normal” family. I was active in church, went to VBS and mission trips, but I always knew something was missing. I didn’t realize that what I was missing was a relationship with Christ until college. My boyfriend introduced me to him.
HeeJun and I dated all through high school and college. He went to UNCC and I went to ECU. His freshman year in college, he had two guys in his dorm that shared the gospel with him. He went to a Christmas conference his freshman year and came back talking about Jesus and having a relationship with Christ. He was talking about truly experiencing Christ. It freaked me out. I thought he was in a cult. However, he continued to share the Gospel with me and praying for me.
I went to that same Christmas Conference with him the next year. Honestly, I went just to be with him on New Years. When I walked into that place, I saw people had their hands in the air, praising God. They were talking about knowing Jesus and having a real relationship with Him.
I wanted that. I needed that.
So, on a rooftop in Atlanta with people ringing in the New Year, HeeJun and I prayed together as I began my walk with Christ.
HeeJun and I were married on May 3, 2003. The first year of marriage was ridiculously hard. No one told me it was going to be that hard. Every selfish thing about me was highlighted. I became a person I couldn’t stand. It took a lot of prayer for God to be our foundation and the center of our marriage.
5 years later in 2008, we had been married for 5 years, we had just suffered a miscarriage and were struggling to start a family. HeeJun had just turned 30 and we needed a vacation! We went on an Alaskan cruise to be refreshed and renewed. It was incredible. (other than they don’t have Starbucks on Alaskan cruise ships). We were in a good place.
A week later on August 9, 2008 HeeJun went on a motorcycle ride up to Morganton. He rode up the mountains almost every Saturday. On this Saturday he must have seen something in the rode and he put on his brakes. He lost control of his bike and flew over the bike into an embankment. I went shopping that afternoon. I came home and saw the troopers parked outside my house.
They told me that it was bad. HeeJun was dead.
In that moment, everything I believed, my dreams, my whole world was flipped upside down in the moment.
That night I prayed that HeeJun would visit me in a dream. I had this sense that he is busy right now rejoicing with his Savior. I realized if those two guys hadn’t shared the Gospel with HeeJun, who shared the Gospel with me, we wouldn’t have the Hope that one day we will be rejoicing with our Savior together.
Regardless of that realization, my faith was shaken. Everything I had believed suddenly felt like a lie. I thought that God was cruel and was punishing me. I thought he didn’t love me. I sunk into a pit of anxiety and grief .It would have been easy to throw in the towel. But since I have such a “great cloud of witnesses”, I searched for the Truth. I looked up every scripture on love. Every verse I looked up, HeeJun had already underlined. For me, it became a fight for joy. It was a hard fight. I had to hold on to His promises and Truth. One promise I reminded myself of daily was in Jeremiah, “I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have drawn you with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt. Again you will take your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful.” ~Jeremiah 31:3-4
In one of the bazillion books of grief I read, I learned, “God does not tell us we will not have sorrows. He tells us that He will be our comfort in sorrow. He does not tell us we will not have tears. He tells us He will be there with us to wipe our tears away. He does not tell us there will not be times to mourn. He tells us that on the other side of that mourning is the promise of joy indescribable.”
In the past when I have shared my testimony, I have stopped at this point. I was still fighting for that joy.
In the past year and half, I can tell you that I have been rebuilt. He has comforted me and healed me. He has been faithful.
The most evident display of His faithfulness is the gift of Mr. Chad Larter in my life. Before Chad and I even knew of each other, God was preparing us for each other. It’s a very cool story, but that’s another whole 10 minutes. Chad and I were married on April 9, 2011. Chad can tell you that being married did not automatically heal me. But through knowing Christ,depending on Him through great sorrow, I am able to experience joy indescribable.