. . . as a Sabbath Keeping Believer.
I have been keeping a secret for about 20 years. I have been living a lie and worshipping God in a manner inconsistent with my own deeply held personal beliefs.
Why have I been living this lie? I was unwilling to pay the price. I never really counted the cost of being a Christian. I was taught to count the cost. I thought I had counted the cost. But when it came down to it – I didn’t really want to pay.
I was not willing to die to myself, my dreams, and my vision for the future. I was unwilling to face persecution (in the form of arguments and disappointment) from family, friends and loved ones. I have been living according to the flesh and building my own kingdom.
As far back as I can remember, I always believed in Jesus Christ. I always believed that God existed, that He made me and that He loved me. My Great Grandmother would sometimes take us to church. I loved it. I loved the flannel graph board and the bible characters. I loved the songs and the activities. I loved putting my offering in the basket. As little children it is so easy to believe in God.
My families were not truly church going families. I have two families resulting from my parent’s divorce. When I was eight, I went to live with my dad and his wife in New Hampshire.
They never really anticipated the challenges they were going to face in raising me. I felt like a misfit growing up in New Hampshire. I missed my mother and my sister. Mom and Dad (in N.H.) were strict. Praise God for that – because I was a wild child. I needed strong willed, strict parents. I just didn’t know it back then.
But, that is another tale to tell. Great Grandma was the only person I remember ever taking me to church, and that did not happen very often.
Sometime around third grade, I made a friend. We began studying the bible together. I was hungry to learn about God. She was very open to teaching me. She would give me free books to read. She was a Jehovah’s Witness. This did not go over well with my family. We were not allowed to play together. Eventually her family moved away.
One day when I was about 18, I was reading the book of Revelation. I prayed that God would open my eyes to understand this word. When I read about the 144,000, I knew that the Jehovah’s Witnesses were wrong about in their teaching. That’s when I began searching for the “one true church”.
I don’t remember how it happened – but one day I across a magazine called “The Plain Truth.”
It was free. They used the same bible most others used. That’s when I was first introduced to the weekly Sabbath and God’s Holy Days in Leviticus 23.
I subscribed to their magazine, ordered all their free books, and read the bible voraciously.
God not only calls us to be hearers of the word, but doers as well.
I was not a doer of the word. I was a single unwed mother living in rebellion. I was a recreational drug user. I was a party girl. I was also in denial regarding my rebellion.
I wanted to obey God.
But, I also wanted to party, have fun, and obey my flesh.
Once while I was living in New Hampshire, a representative the World Wide Church of God visited me. He very correctly knew that I was not ready to make a commitment to serving the Lord. It is one thing to believe in the Lord as savior, another to humble yourself to His will and be obedient to him.
I wanted to be saved. I wanted to be delivered. I even wanted to be obedient. I just didn’t really hate my sins.
I returned to California, where my mother and sisters lived. I remember praying and asking God to be able to attend one service with the World Wide Church of God. Then I would know it they were true believers. I would feel it. God answered me. I was convinced I have found the one true church. But on my second visit, a pastor asked why I was there. Apparently, God gave me access that normally wasn’t available.
You see this church was a “non-proselytizing” church. Evangelism was carried out strictly through their literature. They believed that only God could call a person to repentance. They relied on God to draw people to them. They relied on God to reveal to them when someone was really ready. I was not “ready”.
When I was about 28 I read a book on repentance. Up until that time I was a victim. Life was cruel and unfair. Boohoo, poor me. That book revealed to me that my life was a mess because of my own personal decisions, my own sins. I could not blame my mother, my father, their divorce, the foster homes, the group homes or society, I was responsible. I had sinned and fell short of the glory of God.
I also learned that my failure to obey Him was a heart problem. I did not truly have the heart to obey Him. I knew intellectually that I was a sinner. I did not realize that I had been trying to change in my own power, not His.
I had been studying for years. All my years of study, and my human attempts at obedience were met with failure. I finally tied all my books in a bow and threw them in the trash. I told God that I was done trying to become a Christian in my own strength. I was going to party and have fun. I was tired of the back and forth battle, the failures and the guilt. It was up to God now. If He did not make me a Christian I wasn’t going to be one.
Just a side note about the bow, I also prayed that someone would find the books with the bow. Maybe those books would be a blessing to another seeker. Years later I read about a person who found a bunch of books tied up on a bow, and that was the beginning of their journey. I don’t know if the books they found were the ones I threw away – but I like to think they were.
Well I did go back to partying without giving God a second thought. I kept my word and gave up trying. Somewhere that two year time period between 28 and 30 years old He brought me back into studying. This time, He was doing the work. I was just going with the flow. Eventually, I completed the free 32 lesson correspondence course, and I gave up the party lifestyle without even trying. I called the same pastor who questioned my attendance years ago, and asked permission to attend. His response was “Well, it’s about time!” He said the same thing when I asked to be baptized.
The first year and a half of attending church was amazing. My children and I were blessed so much by the love we received from our new church family. Then something happened. I began looking back. An old crush returned to my life, and I once again partook of the forbidden fruit.
This story is not about the damage and destruction of backsliding. I will save that for another entry. Suffice it to say, that I moved in with that man and l left the church. We eventually married, though I am sure this was not God’s plan. Once I was legally “married” to him, I returned to church. However, when I returned the church was in the middle of a huge doctrinal transition.
The church I was fellowshipping with was crumbling right before my eyes. They were now teaching that Sabbath keeping was not mandatory. Let each believer decide for themselves; let’s not divide over these things. “If that is the case,” I reasoned,” why should I drive all the way down to San Diego to attend church? Why don’t I find a “spiritually healthy” mainstream church to fellowship in?” I set out to find one and found one I did. I even prayed to God to help me find one. I do believe He did.
What drew me to the church I selected was the calm, refreshing, peaceful feeling I experienced on my first visit. They had a Saturday evening service. This felt good. They were not a “Sabbath Keeping” group of believers who were committed to observing the Sabbath from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, but their Saturday evening service fit into my lifestyle.
Also, they were “free evangelicals”. They seemed to understand that we all have doctrinal differences. I adopted their position of agreeing to disagree. For me it meant that I would focus my conversation with other believers on the things we held in common – but I would not discuss the areas we disagreed. After all, I did not want to cause dissension.
That’s when I took my faith, that the things I really believed and stuffed them in the back of my closet and pretended to fit in. I did not even know I was pretending. Well, I was doing more than pretending, I was I was conforming.
I got very involved in this fellowship. I joined a home fellowship, attended the singles services, and volunteered. I even lead a small home fellowship and a small prayer group committed to praying for Native Americans and supporting the local native pastors in prayer. That opened doors to fellow shipping with believers from many different denominations. I even eventually landed a job working for an organization that served many difference churches all over the United States.
When I was volunteering and serving a lot, I started having re-occurring dreams. In my dreams, I was serving at or attending different events. All of a sudden I was naked. I was running from one bush to another – always looking for a towel to cover me. I did not know what the dreams meant at the time. I did figure out that they meant I was hiding something, but by this time I forgot what I was hiding. Eventually, I stepped down from ministry and the dreams stopped. Recently, I recalled the dreams and finally understood what I was hiding.
Every now and then I would question myself. I would ask myself, “What do I believe?” I never really stopped believing the truth about the Sabbath. I did lose my sense of urgency. I forgot about all the dangers and deceitfulness in the current church traditions. Things got blurry. I did not think it mattered.
I forgot that I was bought with a price. I forgot that I my life was not my own and I was saved to serve Him, to expand His Kingdom and to disciple others.
I began to serve myself, and focus on my kingdom. What if Jesus does not return until I turned 75? What if He doesn’t return in my lifetime? What did I want to do with my life? I stopped serving Him and started serving myself.
I decided I was going to be an actress. I even convinced myself that I was supposed to be an actress. I took acting classes, got involved in community theatre and began promoting my dreams and my ambitions. Later, I invested in two dslr cameras. The original plan was to shoot headshots to support my acting career. In all these things, I was still praying, still asking God to bless my plans. I was not asking Him about His plans. I was not concerned about all the people in the world who did not know Him and where lost without Him.
I did not know how far I had strayed from Him until one day, someone asked me to share my story about my faith, my personal relationship with God, and I refused. This person asked me three times, and I refused. That’s when my eyes were opened and I saw how selfish I had become.
Today I grieve about all the wasted time. All the lives I could have touched, had I been faithful. I embrace this grief. I do not think I could ever grieve enough. We do not truly grieve in our society. We do not truly embrace sorrow. My grieving has lead me to re-examine myself.
Praise God, that He gave me warnings along the way. One warning came from a co-working who told me “it’s time for you to start bearing fruit.” Another came from a boss who shared his journey to embracing Torah and the commandments. He also warned be about the darkness in show business. Still another co-worker warned me about the dangers of self-promotion.
God opened my eyes to see that many believers were discovering the truth about the Sabbath and the Holy Days through personal bible studies.
So today I am officially coming out of the closet. I choose to serve my Lord as a Sabbath observant believer.
There are those who may read this as say “So what.” This article is not about who is right or wrong in their doctrine. This is about me coming out of the closet and being who I believe God is calling me to be, living the life of obedience I believe He is calling me to live.
You (the reader) may think that my choice to observe the Sabbath and the Holy Days is legalism. Why I believe what I believe is another story, another essay, another article. Today I am writing to say, this is who I am, this is what I believe. I am not hiding anymore. To do so is to live a lie.
Maybe I am not alone. Maybe someone out there will read this and their story is similar. They are hiding among the masses, just trying to fit in, trying to be agreeable. Don’t let your desire to be agreeable lead to compromise. Come out of the closet today while there is still time.