If you have been on this journey with me you know my passion about how: Our story is the Gospel in Living Color. I met Raegan through the Navigators ministry at the University of North Texas. Her major is English. She writes for the UNT newspaper and she leads a Navigator small group Bible study on campus actively making disciples. Her story is compelling and touching. Without further ado, This is Raegan and her story:
...On the mission field of the Univ. of North Texas
If you are a Christian, most of this information is not anything radical. It’s simply a story.
I grew up in a Christian home. I was in church every Sunday morning. I grew up with the concept of God drilled into my head. I could give the perfect answer to any Sunday school question. I knew that I shouldn’t drink, do drugs, cuss, or have sex. I strived my entire life to avoid those things and to live the “perfect” life. I knew that I was suppose to be good and strive to be perfect as God is perfect. But, why? That, I was never taught.
My mother and father divorced when I was in the sixth or seventh grade. I separated myself from my emotions. I told myself their divorce didn’t bother me at all. My dad was rarely home anyways, and he spent the time he was home angry and shouting. Leaving him was for the best. In fact, I was glad it happened. Now, don’t get me wrong. Growing up, I was happy. I had no complaints against my mother or father. Yeah, they weren’t perfect. But, what family is? That’s what family is, right? Loving each other despite each others’ imperfections? I don’t know. My dad was gone, and I didn’t have to worry about it anymore.
Needless to say, my father and I lost contact for the most part. I can count on my fingers and toes the number of times I saw him my sixth or seventh grade year through my junior year of college. August 2007 brought me a new start when I arrived on the University of North Texas campus. By the end of my freshman year, I had done everything “bad” that I promised myself I’d never do. I was ashamed. If God couldn’t love me any longer, then how could anyone ever love me? I sought to fill this void anyway possible. I got nothing. I even tried praying and going to church. Nothing. I knew I was doing wrong and that I should change, but that’s all I knew.
My freshman year I met some people from a campus organization called The Navigators. I went to a few of the Bible studies off and on, but I was usually too busy seeking other things. The next year was basically the same. Except I was desperately trying to change. The end of my sophomore year, I was involved in three Bible studies per week on top of classes and work. This was the first time that I was actively seeking God since high school. I needed an answer to all this head knowledge, but where was God? I sought and sought, and couldn’t feel Him. Something kept me going, though. Something didn’t let me give up. Still, no matter how much I tried, I was never able to break myself of all my bad habits. I hid behind my busyness as my reason for no longer sinning. Consequently, I no longer committed the “major” sins, but I still messed up and felt like running when I did so.
After a long spiritual battle to my junior year, I finally realized the reason I was never able to change before: I was relying on my own strength, when I actually don’t have any strength at all. But, how could I come back after all that I had done? What kind of man would choose to love me? It was a lost hope. This same year I met a young man with whom I had a connection like no other. Over a long phone conversation, he shared his testimony with me, and I shared mine with him. For the first time, I had shared every, single detail of my story. I was completely open.
“And, who could ever love someone like that?” I asked crying silently, waiting nervously for his response on the other end of the phone.
“But even though I’ve done all that, God still loves me and still chooses to call me His daughter,” God answered through the silence.
“Wow!” I thought. “How amazing!” I finally got it.
Once I understood this love, doing good came as a natural response. I simply wanted to do good to please Him because He loves me unconditionally. Through my understanding of this love, also came the understanding of forgiveness—what it truly meant to forgive as God forgives. I contacted my dad asking forgiveness for any bitterness I held against him. He enthusiastically replied seeking forgiveness as well. My relationship with my father is restored, but most importantly my relationship with my Father is restored. To understand that He chose us knowing that we would forsake Him, that He sacrificed Himself for us who are completely broken—what awesome love! Oh, that I may lay down my life for my Father as He has for me.
“BUT NOW thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine” (Isaiah 43:1).
“Behold, WHAT manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1).