THE FOLLOWING IS WHAT I PRESENTED ON SUNDAY TO OUR CHURCH OF ABOUT 500 PEOPLE.
GOOD MORNING> I am here this morning to share with you my testimony. When Pastor Terry first asked me I thought, “He must be crazy!” “I couldn’t speak in front of all those people.” Then my second thought was “How could I not speak in front of all those people and share what my wonderful Savior has done in my life.
My given name is Danielle Marie Byrd born on September 18th, 1979 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. On that day I was born into the family of Terry and Carolyn Byrd as their oldest daughter. I have a sister Christa who was born three years later. I grew up in Green Center area on a horse farm where I started riding horses as early as I can remember. Horses were my life and everything we did as a family related to horses. Rodeos, open shows, 4-H, I did them all growing up. Some of my fondest memories are from those times we spent together as a family every weekend.
I grew up in a very supportive home with parents that instilled a strong work ethic, manners, and respect for others. Our family did not attend church, but I remember going to Awana several times at a church in Churubusco. I remember very clearly the act of giving my heart to Jesus at Awana one Wednesday night. Though I had uttered the words of salvation, I had no knowledge of what I was to do next. So my true walk with the Lord did not yet begin.
Moving on to the high school years, I attended Churubusco High School. I was a good student on the honor roll, played sports, had lots of friends, was on the prom court. I remember knowing that some of the choices I was making throughout those years were not the right ones. However, several of my friends who did attend church and youth groups were also making those same choices. I thought that the reason my parents were telling me not to do certain things was just because they wanted to be in control of my life. I justified my choices by what others around me were doing. I thought if it was good enough for them, it was okay for me. At least that’s what I thought at the time. What I wouldn’t realize until several years later is that some of those wrong choices would later lead to great anguish and heartbreak. And they did, once I learned the true reasons they were wrong.
In the fall of 98’ after only 5 months of dating I was engaged to my sweet husband, Justin. Though our dating time was short, our engagement lasted a year and a half while I finished getting my degree. It was about 6 months before our wedding that I recommitted my life to the Lord, and began to grow in my walk. For the next two years Justin and I attended a Bible study for 2-4 hours each Tuesday night. Each week we would be challenged to read a certain number of verses and write a little report on what we learned from those verses. It was a great time of growth, and encouragement as we saw ourselves and many people around us really growing in the Lord.
A year and a half after we were married we celebrated the birth of our first son Lance. After that would follow Caleb then Zach. Just two weeks after Zach’s 1st birthday I discovered I was pregnant with our 4th child. We were very excited and had only known for 2 days, yet we hadn’t told anyone. An ambulance had to be called to our home because I was in so much pain. My right leg had been hurting all morning and I thought is was just some kind of tense muscle pain. All morning the pain had been getting worse and I remember thinking, “if I just lay all the kids down for their naps, I will lay down and rest and I am sure that I will be fine.” After laying everyone down, I went downstairs and as I reached the bottom of the stairs I was in an unspeakable amount pain. Jumping ahead to the end of the story I had emergency surgery because the doctors discovered I was having a Tubal pregnancy. After the heartbreaking news that I was loosing our baby I was so excited to be pregnant with I was devastated. For the next week I had people at the house taking care of me and my family because of my limitations from surgery. I don’t remember a lot from the weeks that followed, I went into a depression state of mind. I felt so utterly helpless and ashamed that I couldn’t do anything to save our baby. I remember thinking I didn’t even want to pray. I got so many beautiful cards from some of you sitting right here, letting me know you were praying for me and that God would carry me through this hard time, but I was numb and the words just bounced right off. I tried to assure myself that I had 3 great boys to celebrate, but at that time it just wasn’t enough to pull me out of that state of mind I was in. I thought I was never going to be happy again, and it felt as though God didn’t really care about me. Although inside I felt those things I knew in my head that those thoughts were not true…I learned during this painful time to take comfort in scripture even if I didn’t “feel” like it. Joshua 1:5 reads “I will never leave you nor forsake you”. I had full assurance the Lord would restore me in all ways but I still had to work my way back to Him….. It was a process. I knew I was in the middle of a spiritual battle and I could literally feel it. The devil was throwing all kinds of lies at me that he wanted me to believe so that I would abandon my faith. God was trying to ease my pain but I wasn’t fully willing to let Him. After all was said and done, God did continue to show His love to me and He did restore my heart, and I was brought out of that dark time. Now, looking back on it, I am thankful for what God taught me in the midst of so much pain. He taught me that His ways are always perfect, and I don’t need to understand them. His love is enough to get me through anything, and He will never leave me, He will be there fighting for me as I struggle through hard spiritual battles. I am so thankful for His faithfulness and patience with me.
Just a few months later, not only had God restored me physically but He was continuing to work in my heart spiritually. As if that wasn’t already enough He also chose to bless us with our precious Julia. What a sweet addition she has been to our whole family.
Even though God was richly blessing me during this exciting time in my life, I had drifted away from spending my daily quiet time with Him. I had continued to use the excuse “I just didn’t have enough time in the day“, or “I was just too tired.” So when Justin and I went away earlier this year, I had decided this was the time I was going to get back on track with my quiet time. Well unfortunately that didn’t happen. Instead I came home with some kind of flu, and disappointment over failing once again to get back on track.
When I returned I felt God really convicting me over my not being “real” with Him on why I wasn’t spending time with Him in His word. I knew in my heart what the “real” issue was, but didn’t want to admit it to myself or anyone else for that matter. The real issue: LAZINESS! When I said those very words out loud to Him, admitting that I was not putting Him first in my daily walk; that realization was heartbreaking for me. After all he’s done for me, I was failing to make my time with Him a top priority. Once I admitted the truth to God, my being luke-warm about spending time together could not be good enough, my good intentions would not be good enough, and my excuses would no longer be acceptable. It was my deepest desire to make the time to sit at His feet and worship Him. It’s still a daily choice that I have to be committed to, daily dieing to myself, and my selfishness of wanting to use God’s time my way. I share this struggle of mine with you, because I know many of you battle with the same problem. It struck me the other day that I am constantly telling my children that actions speak louder than words. I will tell them, “Don’t just tell me you will obey the first time. Show me.” I know the same principle applies to us…We can’t just tell God we love him with all our hearts and treasure Him above all things and then not follow through with action to back it up. You can’t tell someone you love them and treasure them and then not talk or spend time with them…the same is true with God. We have to show Him that He is worth our spending quality time with Him and we must make the effort to develop an intimate relationship with Him. We can only accomplish this by taking the time to daily sit at His feet.
In closing I need to express my gratitude to this church and it’s pastors for bringing to my attention the hard issues that need to be dealt with in my walk with the Lord. I am thankful for the convicting questions and lessons taught here each week. I am also thankful for the friends he has brought into my life at just the right times. I am thankful for an amazing husband who loves me unconditionally with all his heart and shows it through his thoughtful actions. I am thankful for his gentle rebuke when he sees something in my life that needs to be addressed. Most of all, I am thankful for a mighty and overcoming God that gives me endless grace and compassion that I do not deserve. I am thankful for a God that truly forgives all the sin in my life past and present. I am thankful for the knowledge He has given me through His word. He has used that knowledge to change my hearts desires. My desire is to be honest with my children as they grow up and give them the knowledge I once lacked. So that they can make choices that will glorify the Lord and be a witness to others.
I am grateful for my salvation. I am grateful to be called a child of God. I am grateful for his unconditional love for me.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
THE FOLLOWING IS WHAT I PRESENTED ON SUNDAY TO OUR CHURCH OF ABOUT 500 PEOPLE.