This post by kathylarkman was originally published at GRACE PLACE
I haven’t often shared the testimony of my childhood years, but as I read the first chapter of Titus and prayed about what I should write for this blog, memories of those days came flooding back and I felt the Lord urging me to share some of them with you.
My two younger sisters and I were brought up in a God-fearing but extremely legalistic Christian home. My parents came to faith through the ministry of an older couple they met doing ‘street ministry’ in London. This couple didn’t belong to a church and were accountable to no-one. I came to realise many years later they had a very twisted view of what it meant to be a Christian. Unfortunately Mum and Dad believed everything they taught them.
Among other things, my parents were convinced that following the Levitical law as closely as possible would gain them extra ‘brownie points’ with God. My Dad even went to the extreme of being circumcised at 40 years old! We children were forbidden to play games or speak of anything other than scripture on Sundays. We were never allowed to listen to the radio or watch TV. We could not invite school friends to our home, or visit them in theirs.
Mum taught me to play piano, but the lid was often slammed shut on my fingers when my irate father overheard me playing anything he didn’t approve of -anything other than old hymns or choruses!
We kept the Old Testament ‘food laws’ rigidly, couldn’t wear clothing that mixed wool and cotton, weren’t allowed to celebrate Christmas or Easter (these were considered pagan festivals) and were never allowed to go on school trips or join ‘ungodly’ organisations like the Girl Guides.
Just before bed one night, aged seven or eight, my father taught us about Noah’s ark – that God judged the earth by drowning everyone that didn’t accept Christ. In panic, I tearfully prayed ‘the sinner’s prayer’ pleading to be saved from God’s wrath. After all, what child wouldn’t be terrified of drowning?
As you can imagine by the time I was in my teens I completely rebelled against this harsh and vengeful God. I left school and started work as a reporter on my local paper. With my first wage I rented a tiny flat, leaving my family home for good. My parents refused to acknowledge my existence for many years. At 17, I was alone, vulnerable and quickly embraced a completely heathen lifestyle.
But oh, how great is the mercy, kindness and compassion of God! After many years of living outside of his grace, He brought people into my life that would show me a completely different Gospel, one of mercy, forgiveness, redemption and overwhelming, undeserved love.
It’s taken many years to ‘unlearn’ the false teaching I received as a child. I still struggle at times with assurance of my salvation; that I don’t need to earn God’s love. Paul warned Titus about the horrible consequences of false teaching and the havoc it causes.
Sisters, we are so blessed to belong to a church where Bible truth is faithfully taught. Let’s be careful to guard our hearts against what is false, never take our leaders for granted and receive the teaching they bring with great gratitude and respect.