Stories from the People Sarah
I grew up in a Christian home where I was clearly taught about salvation through Jesus Christ. For a variety of reasons, I began to question my faith in my middle school years. I remember asking the Lord to show me if He was real because I wanted either genuine faith or nothing to do with religion. God was so faithful to lead me to many years of personal journaling where I was able to pour out my prayers to Him as I read and studied the Bible for myself. I remember discovering a small phrase in Ephesians 3:19 during this time that described the love and depth of Christ and all He had done. The phrase read "...to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge." This greatly impacted me as I had much knowledge about Christ, but this amazing love that He extended to me was far beyond basic knowledge. It was completely life changing and very personal.
Throughout my high school and college years, I had many wonderful people help me learn the Scriptures better and apply them to my life personally. I felt challenged in my faith to look for places for service and to learn to share the Gospel with others. College gave me some amazing opportunities to do these things as well as establish close relationships with other women to give me accountability and encouragement in my faith.
Soon after college I married my wonderful husband, Rob, and we moved to the State College area. The Lord blessed us with two children, and I began to learn much about being a wife and mother. We began attending Oakwood about 7 years ago due to their strong Biblical teaching. For so long I had known the basics of the Gospel--my own sinfulness and inability to save myself, and the salvation that God offered through Jesus Christ's death and resurrection. I had embraced this great truth, and yet, the beauty of the Gospel is that it continues to transform and change us. Through the women's Bible study at Oakwood, I was studying I John 2 and read verse 1 where it talks about Jesus being our advocate before the Father when we sin. At the time I was wrestling with guilt and wondered at why this passage was not a comfort to me. The Lord convicted my heart to show me that I was filled with pride and in the end I didn't want Jesus to be my advocate. I wanted to be my own advocate and "pay" for my sin with good deeds (which of course I could never do!). What an amazingly freeing experience to lay down my pride and turn to Jesus in freedom.
During our time at Oakwood, I was diagnosed with a chronic disease called rheumatoid arthritis. This disease complicated many aspects of life and has challenged my ability to care for my family at times and perform daily activities (including having two major surgeries). The people of Oakwood have been incredible in this time. We have had meals brought to us, so many prayers and cards at just the moments we needed them, laundry done for us, our children cared for, and solid teaching from Scripture that gave us joy and hope in the midst of difficult circumstances. It is never easy to be in need of others and many times my pride has strongly resisted it, but in my broken times, God has used the people of Oakwood to help me persevere in my faith. What a gift to have a church like this!!