Halloween 7 years ago was the last time I abused drugs. It has been 7 years now that have chosen a different path for my life. I have grown so much since that day. I have become a person of love, a person of hope and a person of joy.
Several years ago, I was randomly asked to share my testimony to a group of church people whom I had never met and I was so scared, yet so honored. I was honored that God was able to use my story to speak life into people. I was honored to be able to share the transformation that was continuously taking place in my life. At that point in time, I had no care in the world as to what they would think of me because I was secure in the Lord, I knew He would protect me.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
1 Corinthians 5:17
Last night, the Holy Spirit reminded me of this verse, a verse used so often yet so powerful. It reminds me that I am not longer the Erin that had to steal money to get drugs to sleep at night and get through each day. I am no longer the Erin that didn’t understand how to love or be loved. I am not that person. I am a new creation.
The same year I began sharing my testimony I took a mission trip to Haiti. Halfway through the trip, I was on a rooftop watching God paint another marvelous sunset, basking in the sweet presence of Christ when He spoke to me very soft and clearly. He told me that he wanted to use my past for His Glory. He told me to share the hope that lied within my story. Hope of redemption.
I did this for several years to come. Anytime I had the chance, I would share my story in hopes that it might touch the heart of someone who had been where I had. I witnessed lives change and hope restored.
Eventually, I took a path that led me out of full time ministry and into the corporate world. Into a world that doesn’t understand redemption, a world that doesn’t know what true hope is. Honestly, it was a slow change, I was still willing to tell my story but only when deemed appropriate. Then I only told it at church where people knew my heart and knew I was no longer that person. Then I pretty much stopped all together. I was listening to Satan without even realizing it.
I had people tell me how it could have awful repercussions on my life in the “secular” world. I had people tell me to keep it a secret, because I didn’t want people finding out who I used to be and using it against me. I had people tell me not to talk about it because some people wouldn’t believe that I had changed. They were right. Some may not believe me, it may harm my chances with some corporations and some people may always believe I am the same person I was when I was 16.
They were right, but I will choose not to live in fear, but in victory.
My God has his hand on my future and knows what will happen. He knows the intricate details of my soul. When I was 16, I promised God that I would use my voice and my story to bring light to the lost, to being hope to the hopeless and love the unloved. I will not let fear of rejection or disapproval of people determine my obedience to my Savior.
We all have a story. Maybe it’s not like mine. Maybe you were who I would’ve been had I not chosen to change my life. Maybe you grew up and never had any major issues and you’ve followed Jesus from the time you came out of the womb. It doesn’t matter what your story entails, it can be used for the Glory of God. It can bring hope to those around us. When you are prompted by the Holy Spirit to be vulnerable, do it. You may never know what God is using you for, but He has a pretty good idea of what He is doing. It may not look or sound pretty, but that’s the point. God takes our nastiness and turns it into something beautiful.
Don’t let your story, your own personal love story, go untold.
Erin Rae Vandiver