My Personal Testimony

I thought I would try to give a background and history of how I came to faith in Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah and at what point I submitted my life to Him, just in case anyone reading this blog was wondering!

From the time of my earliest memories, I remember believing in God and praying to Him daily. I grew up in a very Catholic home, went to church every Sunday and was educated in a Catholic school until the 4th grade.  I have many pleasant memories as a child going to church and participating in many church/school events.

But my most vivid memory of an encounter with Adonai as a young child took place at home. I specifically remember sitting in the station wagon in our driveway and looking up into the sky (I was about 6 years old) and having some very deep thoughts about God. I was asking serious questions even back then...and it has never stopped! I remember thinking there was some part of "the story" I was missing. I told Him that I knew there was more to "it" than what I understood and I wanted to know more!

As I write this I am thinking several things. The prayers of a little child are heard!!!! More than anything on earth I wanted to know my Creator. I had this longing, these unanswered questions, this heart wanting to know who her heavenly Father was and more importantly....why was I here and what was I supposed to be doing?

Throughout my childhood and into my teens I remember praying the same prayer almost every night. In it's very condensed form, it went something like this: "Father, Please help me to be the person You want me to be". Over and over, that was my heart's conform to His image and to do what He wanted me to do. My greatest desire was to see His will be done in my life.

Adonai has been so good to me in answering that prayer over the years! While I had believed that He existed and prayed to Him, I didn't really know Him intimately in the way I knew I wanted to, but I didn't know what that looked like. I was taught that Yeshua died for my sins and that if I believed in that, I would be saved. I understood He took the penalty I deserved and that He loved me very much. But no one told me about submission to His will, how to have an intimate relationship with Him or what it meant for Him to be the Lord or Master of your life. I grew up basically thinking if you believed certain things, said a certain creed, you were "in" and were saved.  I was also taught that if you weren't baptized you were going to hell and taking "holy communion" in the Catholic mass had some significance I didn't understand.

At the age of 18 I left home for college. Through some devastating events (my boyfriend breaking up with me) and being away from home for the first time, adjusting to college coursework and keeping up with a scholarship and some intense performing (I was a music major), I had come to the proverbial end of my rope. I had come to the end of myself. Now I can thank Adonai that I did! Now, I can see His hand in all of it, but at the time it wasn't any fun at all. I was devastated, confused and badly wounded.

Interestingly enough, Adonai chose to put me in a dorm with a roommate who cared and was a believer. When I came back to the dorm one night I shared my broken heart with her and she asked if she could pray with me. This was the first time anyone had ever asked me if they could pray with me! That was monumental in itself. As I think about this, I wonder how many missed opportunities I have had in my life with a friend because I was afraid to ask if I could just pray with and for them, right in the moment of what they were going through. She didn't pray the sinner's prayer or anything like that she just asked Elohim (God) to help me. Honestly, I couldn't even tell you what she exactly said, because I was fervently praying too. And I came to the realization that I needed my Creator to take complete control of my life. I realized I had screwed it up enough and I was done trying and I just gave my life to Him and said, "Do whatever you want with it, cause I am done!"

That day was September 28, 1985. I didn't really realize what I had done honestly, until the next day after a good night's sleep, I awoke to find such incredible peace and filling of the Ruach hoKodesh (Holy Spirit) that I knew I was experiencing the Living God and He was miraculously a part of me in a way He hadn't been before. I can't tell you how incredible of an experience this was, because there are no words to really express all. It was like I saw the whole world differently. My eyes were "opened" to things and people around me. I was given an NIV (protestant) Bible and I literally ATE IT UP and devoured it. Hours every day I read and it was like I was reading it for the first time! AMAZING! The Spirit of Elohim was teaching me and it was exciting! 1 Corinthians 2:14 says, "The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned." What I was experiencing was the very Ruach haKodesh (Spirit of God) that Yeshua promised He would send as a comforter who would teach them all things, now filling ME and teaching ME from His Word. Now this wasn't the first time I had read a Bible. I had grown up reading my Catholic Bible and was definitely drawn to it but didn't understand a lot of it, if at all. I wanted to, I really did and I tried as best I could. But that is what 1 Corinthians says is that with out the Spirit we cannot understand it. My spiritual eyes were closed and now they were open! As I studied the Word, I began to question some things in my Catholic upbringing.

I was shocked to find out that many things I did as a Catholic were not scriptural!  Praying to Mary and worshipping her? That is a big no-no in the Word of God. We are to pray to our Creator only and worship Him alone. No exceptions. Purgatory? Where is THAT in the Bible? Purgatory is the Catholic belief that there is some middle place between heaven and hell where you could be sent to after you die if you weren't that good of a person, but evidently, still not bad enough for hell. There you supposedly WORK to get to earn your wings to fly to heaven. Oh my. I just believed all this Catholic doctrine I was taught. I swallowed it hook, line and sinker without ever really questioning if it was in the Bible! Why question the priest? They were supposed to teach me the truth, right? Ideally, yes. To be honest, I felt I had been lied to and duped! Granted, I didn't have the Spirit of God living inside me and my eyes were not open to the truth, but still I felt taken advantage of and so gullible. I won't even go into "transubstantiation" and other fun unbiblical Catholic doctrine/theology because this would end up being a book if I listed all the things that I was taught that did not line up with the Word of God.

Now, all deception has an element of truth, otherwise it wouldn't be that deceptive! So, let me just say, that there WAS some truth to what I had been taught....Jesus dying for my sins, I was a sinner, God loved me, He created me....all sorts of good and foundational truth. But mixed in with the holy (truth) had been the profane (lies) all along, I just didn't know it. I do want to say that I am thankful that my parents taught me about God in the best way they could, took me to church and helped me receive some of that foundational truth. They led me in the direction of wanting to know more and for that I am so very thankful!

Another impacting encounter in my journey of following Yeshua the Messiah occurred at an Intervarsity Christian Fellowship leader's training camp where I gave my testimony among a a group of students in leadership. I must have been pretty fired up (I don't remember exactly what I said) but a student approached me afterward and said something that really made an impact on me. He said to me, "Gail, don't ever lose the fire and passion you have for the Lord!" He was a student around the same age as me (19) but had been a believer for many more years than I had been. I honestly had NO IDEA what he was talking about. I smiled and nodded and affirmed to him that I had no plans in doing that. Looking back, I am wondering if that wasn't a message and calling straight from Adonai! I took that as a message from Adonai Himself. I didn't understand as a very new believer who was so on fire for Him, and willing to do whatever He wanted me to do, that I could lose that. I remember thinking to myself, "What is he talking about?!! I mean, really, how would THAT EVER happen?" To me, being a disciple of Jesus would mean always having that passion. It is the Normal Christian Life for EVERY believer as Watchman Nee explains in his awesome book (see my list of recommended books).

 It was in that very moment that I made a life changing vow to the Lord that would set the course of my life. I told Him that I would NEVER be a "casual christian".  This term makes me ill and nauseated actually. It is an oxymoron. Those two words should never be used in conjunction with each other! It is like "jumbo shrimp"...two opposites. I think the nausea I feel is explained in Yeshua's letter to the Laodicean fellowship of believers when He says. " I know your works; you are neither cold or hot. Would that you were either cold of hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth." This is a letter to the lukewarm or "casual" christian who thinks he has everything when he has nothing because he is complacent in his faith and works. Yeshua goes on to give this kind of believer instruction when he says, "Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent."

Since that event I have always strived to keep learning, studying His Word diligently and seeking His face with passion and determination knowing that the gift of salvation wasn't something to just "add" to my life, but it transformed my life and made me so grateful of a recipient that out of deep love and appreciation for what He had done for me, I could do no less, than to devote my entire self to Him.

After leaving the Catholic church, over the next 15 years I participated in various non-denominational fellowships, sang on many a worship team and participated and led many a bible study. All of which caused me to go deeper and disregard things that weren't true and seek to know and follow Him more intimately. The 6 years following this time, the Lord led me to join a less traditional fellowship that was elder led, family integrated and encouraged participation of all believers.

Which brings me to where I am fellowshipping now, which has come about from studying my Hebrew roots and desiring to worship with Jew and Gentile together, One in Messiah! It has been an incredible journey of following Adonai and I wouldn't trade even the valleys for anything else. I can't think of ANYTHING more exciting and thrilling than to hear Adonai speaking to me and to learn to walk in His ways. Over the past year, as I have celebrated the Feasts and Sabbaths I feel I understand Him better and it has given me more insight and understanding into so many things about His character, His plan for the end of the ages and His will for me. I am so grateful!

My life verse is Romans 12:1-2, "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of Elohim, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to Elohim, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of Elohim, what is good and acceptable and perfect." This verse has been one of great importance to me and has been one that has kept me on the narrow path of following Adonai instead of the world in these last days especially, where apostasy abounds and lawlessness (Torahlessness) increases. The Temple has been destroyed and the animal sacrifices have ceased because of Yeshua's perfect and final sacrifice for us on the tree. But now, WE are the temple and are to present ourselves, everything we have as a living sacrifice, not dead, but ALIVE in Messiah Yeshua so we can bear fruit and be a light shining in the darkness. There you have my marching orders!

I hope you were blessed by my testimony. If so, praise be to Adonai!