Friday, February 1, 2013

God is Creating a Palace

All my life I had to defend my religious beliefs.  I knew I was different, and my friends knew I was different- mostly because I never swore, didn't date until I was 16, went to seminary daily before school, and didn't drink alcohol.

I remember going to my first class as a 6th grader- it was language arts.  I was standing by my desk, and the bell hadn't rang yet.  Above the noises, a boy yelled out, "Hey Rachel!  You're a moron- you go to the moron church!"

He was standing a few desks away.  I turned to him, shook my finger at him, and said, "I am a Mormon!  Don't you EVER make fun of my religion again!!"

He never did again-even all through my high school years.

Even though he never made fun of me again, many others did.

Almost daily, either someone asked me questions about my religion, made fun of my strict lifestyle, or divulged all kinds of crazy things they had been taught about my religion in their church.  I would then clarify the miseducation they had received.

I often wondered why members at my friends' churches would gather just to talk about the Mormons.  There were only a small handful of us in the entire high school, and we were all good kids.  

Despite all of this, I became the Student Body President running with the campaign slogan of "Rachel Likes People!"

My friends knew that when they were really going through something tough in their lives, they could trust me to pray with all my heart to God on their behalf.  Although they didn't understand my religion, never once had any of my friends questioned my belief in Jesus Christ because they could see my faith in HIM through my love for them.

This past week, some strangers doubted my belief in Jesus.  They said that I believe in a different Jesus than them.  It perplexed me that there would be such a discussion.  We're worshipping the same Jesus- the One and Only Messiah.  Their comments hurt deeply at the time, but now I see the wisdom in God's ways.  HE was strengthening me!

One of my favorite CS Lewis quotes is as follows:

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

I know the pain I felt is minimal to what many others continually face, but I learned something beautiful.  As I felt pain and turned to my Savior who took upon himself all pain, I felt a strengthening and a building within me that I never thought possible!  

I had been given the opportunity this week to bear simple testimony again and again that Jesus Christ is my Savior and my God.  I had been given the opportunity to state over and over that I am Christian.  

It has been one of the deepest, most penetrating spiritual experiences of my life to feel my Savior's loving arms wrap around me each time I testified of those truths.  I know that I am HIS witness, and I thank HIM for that honor.

What a miracle!  In the process of testifying of my king and Savior, Jesus Christ, I received an even stronger testimony of HIM.