Hi. I’m Amy.
The guy in the water behind me is a tiny surfer photo bomber. He has nothing to do with this story.
This post highlights the most important thing that has ever happened to me. I was rescued.
My mom and dad did the best they could to raise me. They took me to church when I was little. I was very loved in my home. I was nurtured and supported with great affection. I never lacked for anything material. All my physical needs were met. I would have to say, looking back, I don’t think my parents had more than a basic knowledge of God. Going to church was just the right thing to do, so they took us.
My grandma started sending my parents sermons on cassette tapes (remember those?) in shoe boxes. This particular pastor taught right out of the Bible, and they realized they had been spiritually starved. They devoured sermon after sermon.
Our family soon left the church we attended when my parents realized they held to some very legalistic doctrines like, you have to be baptized to be saved, and if you leave this particular congregation, you lose your salvation.
My dad, who was in the Air Force, soon had an opportunity to relocate near the church that these sermons were coming from. We moved to Southern California, where I grew up.
I’m not sure of the actual day of my salvation, but I believe this one decision my parent’s made, had the final say in my inevitable rescue. Every week I was taught the deep things of Scripture. I began to hear and understand the very words of God.
I was a stupid kid, very foolish. I made choices based on what seemed good for me at the time, mostly based on fun or personal instant gratification. For a time my parents were pretty well-off. My first car was a Mercedes, and we owned two of them. I only mention this because it was meaningless. I didn’t understand what going without was like, but I did understand that things didn’t make me happy.
I had a conscience. God’s grace kept me from things like drugs and drinking parties. If I thought drugs and drinking seemed fun, it would have been something I tried, but I wasn’t interested in that. I wanted what Christianity had to offer in many ways, but I was enticed by the world. I made many compromises that I regret now. I deceived my way through those years. I was a liar.
I was a moderate athlete. I played basketball, volleyball, ran hurdles and did high jump in track. I was too lazy to get really good. I dated very young and sought after the attention of guys and came up empty. I dated an older guy when I was in tenth grade, he was 20. He led me down a wrong path with music, concerts and movies that were worldly. I watched MTV for hours on end. My music was dark and was a trap of self-absorbed contemplation of things that went nowhere. I kept coming up empty and did harmful things like taking a lot of aspirin and carving in my arm. I hid all this from my parents as best as I could. These things never got me the attention I was hungering for. I was drawing from an empty well. At an early age I realized that life was futile and meaningless. I spent days in emptiness and despair.
I went to a concert one Friday night with my boyfriend and some friends. Before it started, a guy near us started stabbing himself repeatedly in the chest and stomach. People rushed in to stop him and they carried him off on a stretcher to the hospital. The concert went on, like nothing ever happened. People even laughed about how weird that was. I felt terrible.
The next day, my dad heard a news report about it and my parents sat me down and asked me why I didn’t tell them. I lied and said I forgot. Yeah, you don’t forget something like that. My dad began looking through my albums and told me that I was listening to trash and the guy I was dating didn’t care about me and I wasn’t the happy normal Amy they knew. I had been dressing in black and wearing dark make-up and punking my hair out (We called it death rock back then). He informed me that I would be breaking up with this guy. I was angry and shouted in his face that I would kill myself and he said, “I’d like to see you try.” He knew I was bluffing. So I told him I would rebel more and he said, “That’s fine, but you WILL break up with him.” It was by God’s grace that I came to see this as my parents’ love for me, their demand to remove me from those enslaving influences. Looking back, I certainly don’t blame the guy I was dating. He was lost too.
All of this was going on while I attended L.A. Baptist High School.
I was sick of feeding my insatiable emptiness with things that kept driving me further from happiness. I wanted to be known. I wanted someone to love me perfectly. The funny thing about the world is, it doesn’t care to know you and it will never ever love you. It will not be there for you. The world’s version of love is a con artist. It promises happiness, but turns on you and leaves you more empty than when you started.
That summer we got a new youth pastor at church who actually preached some things I needed to hear, instead of just telling me that I talked too much while he’s speaking. He said that God knew me intimately and wanted to do something significant through me. I was more than the sum of what I listened to, how I dressed or how well liked I was. He also asked all the Christian school kids why they thought they were OK living like hypocrites while they were most likely going to hell. Finally someone I could respect, who wasn’t just buddying up to me so I wouldn’t leave the youth group. He also didn’t write me off as someone who could never be used because I didn’t follow all the rules properly. I had been written off by Christians, and I really needed God’s grace. I realized that God wasn’t standing over me with a clipboard pursing his lips and checking off my good and bad deeds, but that He wanted to tear me apart altogether and rebuild me.
When God stripped me of what I thought I wanted, He replaced it with all I ever needed, Jesus. I learned that Christians don’t just go by that name, but they are people whose every need and longing is met in Christ. I learned that being a believer meant that I didn’t have to be like everybody else, living a dead end superficial, plastic life. God had used people my age, to change the world for him, to reach the lost and to love sinners. He expected me to give up everything, risk everything, and be willing to die for him. It was at this time that everything started changing for me.
I left L.A. Baptist High school and went to a public school where I shared my faith and saw some people come to Christ. It was like I was coming alive. Everything the Lord gave me that was a part of my life began to take on a new freedom and joy. Fun became so freeing because the guilt was gone. Relationships grew and deepened because I was in them for different reasons. My life began to be about my Savior and telling everyone I knew about Him. Loving God, but mostly just being loved by God, became my fun and it is my fun today. Joy just keeps growing. Obeying him always brings blessing. I’m beginning to care less and less about whether or not I suffer loss or disappointment. I am never, ever going to hell! I never have to go back to living without Jesus again. It was hopeless back there.
Hard times still come, but when the deepest part of who I am is ultimately satisfied, I do not face trials without hope. My dad went to heaven, unexpectedly. He was only 51. I still miss him now, 15 years later. But I can’t explain the peace that carried me in that sad time. I watched my mom’s faith blossom through that terrible loss. We came through it all, stronger. God never left us. Many other hard things have happened, but I can honestly say, in the love of Christ, I have overwhelmingly conquered.
God has been very merciful to me. His mercy is for everyone who comes to Him. If you are empty, or you keep coming up short emotionally… you can’t explain why every happy moment has the background moan of sadness, then come to God the Father through Jesus His Son and the Holy Spirit will overflow your life with satisfaction and meet your deepest needs.
Ephesians 1:3 says, that we have been given EVERY spiritual blessing in Christ.
My testimony is my own, but it is a story of rescue. It is not by my efforts that I am saved. “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Galatians 6:14
Amy DeBurgh is the wife of her favorite preacher. She lives in the great state of Wisconsin with her husband and three big kids who are the joy and adventure of her life.