The death of my father was a major turning point for my faith. He died at the age of 64 in 2001when I was 30 years old after battling for 20 years with sarcoidosis of the lungs. I told my co-workers that I didn't want to hear anything about or have anything to do with God if my father passed. You see, in my eyes, my father didn't deserve to suffer from a debilitating disease because he had dedicated most of his life to serving God. I felt his suffering was extremely unfair.
My father was a walking Bible. There was no biblical question I could ask him which he didn't know the answer. Why study in depth for myself; I was quite confident in his answers. Ironically, after my father passed, the total opposite happened. Instead of leaving the Adventist church and God, I immersed myself in church and Bible study. Don't ask me how it happened. But looking back on that time now, I believe it was the Lord's doing. Since I didn't have my father to fall back on, it was time for me to get to know Him personally, through my own studying of His Word. I wanted to understand the interpretations of difficult passages, so during this time I took part in Bible discussions with those “serious students of the Bible” after church services on Sabbath.
My faith journey took a sharp curve the summer of 2004. At this point, I had been an Adventist all of my life. I'd been educated in Adventist schools from kindergarten to college. Single again, after 12 years of marriage, I began dating a gentleman who was Pentecostal. There wasn't a problem with our differing beliefs. There was no pressure on either of our parts to convert the other. Since he was already familiar with my faith, it made things easier. On two separate occasions he invited me to attend his church. Coming from a rather conservative church, I was taken aback by the exuberance of the church members. I hadn't been exposed to people speaking in tongues, running around the sanctuary as drums beat to an incessant rhythm and to my astonishment, even my boyfriend laid out on the floor. Are these people for real? I highly doubted it. I was staying calm, cool, and collected; no getting undignified for me. I'm sure to the dismay of those in attendance. By my second visit, I had learned that they were indeed for real. For the most part their praise was genuine and the Holy Spirit awakened in me a desire to praise God like never before. I was never the same after that visit.
I went back to my church the following Sabbath and observed the stark difference. Church was dead. No life. I wanted to clap my hands and praise God for how awesome He was. As I looked around me, I saw no joy on the faces of the believers. How could that be? We had the truth. Surely, that was something to shout about it. Instead it felt like a funeral. I knew then, without a doubt I could not be apart of a dead church; my transition out of the SDA church began. I never attended my church again after that sabbath. I began attending non-denominational Sabbath-keeping churches since I still believed strongly in the sabbath.
In 2007, I started dating a gentleman who was baptist. We had many intense debates about certain doctrines, and I knew since I was right regarding eating pork, the state of the dead, and the sabbath; it was a slam dunk. Especially since I was not going to marry him if he didn't believe as I did. He'd be converted in no time. Not! He had me questioning what I had always believed, so much so I decided to study the origins of the Christian faith. I wanted assurance that what I had believed all my life was really the truth. So for over a year, I did some intense studying with the intent of proving my boyfriend wrong. I researched various internet sites from former Adventist (Gently Broken being my favorite), devoured a lecture series on Christianity from my local library, read books from well known authors, conversed with former Adventists, studied my bible, and read every issue of Proclamation up to that point. What I was discovering threw me for a curve. I was being converted instead of the other way around.
My transition took another big turn when I started seeing some inconsistencies with the current sabbath keeping church I was attending. The church allowed a Sunday church to hold services there. I noticed that after our service on Sabbath, there would be members cleaning the church in preparation for the Sunday church's services. I couldn't understand if we were suppose to keep the Sabbath holy, why couldn't the church be cleaned after sunset. The response to my question was that no one was going to come back after sunset to do it. That was a red flag for me. That got me to thinking. Why do we make such a big deal about the holiness of the sabbath if the way it is observed differs from one person to the next. Why is there such an emphasis to keep it? Though it was not an SDA church, it mirrored the SDAs in belief and the pastor held Ellen G. White in high esteem. The only difference was that we could wear jewelry and eat meat at church dinners. Before I made my decision to leave the church I wanted some of my questions answered by my pastor (his stance on the investigative judgment, EGW, and why his church wasn't a part of the SDA denomination) His answers were not satisfactory to me. I disagreed with the validity of the Investigative Judgment doctrine and I had my doubts about EGW. My conscience would not allow me to return to the church.
I was without a church home for awhile. I researched church after church after church to find one whose doctrines mirrored my beliefs. I was now comfortable with the idea of attending church on Sunday. I had studied the new covenant enough to know that my rest was in Jesus, and not in a particular day. I could rest in Him everyday! During this time I was becoming excited about what I was learning and would share it with my boyfriend, who was excited for me also.
I distinctly remember the day I informed my mother that I was attending church on Sunday. She had called to check on me one Sunday morning after I'd gotten off of work at the hospital. Since I was waiting for church to begin, I was sitting in my car. That conversation was an eyeopener. She asked me what I was doing and I told her that I was waiting to go to church. “What?!” she said, “You're going to church on Sunday?” I chuckle even now as I think about that conversation. She informed me that she was happy my father wasn't alive to see me going to church on Sunday. Her utter disbelief astounded me. I was the anti-Christ and wasn't welcomed in her home, she said. I told her that I still believed in the Bible and she said that wasn't enough. I knew what she meant and I was amazed to hear confirmation that SDAs believe you need both the Bible and EGW's writings from my own mother. Needless to say, that conversation didn't end well, but consequentially as the days and years have passed whether due to a letter I wrote her outlining my beliefs and confirming that I was still a Christian or the Holy Spirit speaking to her we have an unspoken understanding that we will respect each others standing on the matter of faith.
I now attend and am actively involved in a wonderful non-denominational bible believing church (Summit Crossing Community Church). I felt led to get re-baptized in my new church because I wanted to make a public statement that I was truly born again. My first baptism at age 6 was done prematurely and prompted by fear of hell. My life began anew one December evening in 2010 with my small group members and my children surrounding the pool as my pastor dipped me under the water. I surfaced chilled and soaking wet, but with a big smile on my face. Wow! If I had been told a walk with Jesus could be this sweet, I don't think I would have believed them. This was a journey I had to experience for myself. Now I am a living testimony to the patience and grace of my blessed Lord and Savior. He is indeed sweet. I'm not saying all is rosy. A bed of roses was not promised to those who follow Christ, but having the assurance that He is walking with me through the ups and downs of my life gives me peace and joy. I can say with assurance now. I am saved. I know where I'm going when I die. Resting in Jesus is a 24/7 occurrence not just an appointment from Friday sunset, to Saturday sunset.
As young adults, my brother David and I would talk often about our issues with the SDA denomination. I would tell him that the difference I saw between SDAs and other churches was SDAs have the Sabbath but other churches have Jesus.” I'm elated to say I now have Jesus!
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