Katelyn’s testimony –
16 months. That’s about 69 weeks. Which is about 485 days. That’s 11, 640 hours, which then makes about 29,100 minutes. This was NOT my plan!
That is approx. how much time I have spent at Vision of Hope, as of right now. Now, it’s 29.101 minutes, and soon it will be 29,102, according to my plan, but then again, I’m not the one making the time go by. I’m not the one who put me here in front of you, I’m not the one who delivered you, I’m not the one who is perfect ( I know, hard to believe), I’m not the one who was literally slain, I’m not the one who took THE wrath of God for you, I’m not the one who rose from the grave and defeated sin, death, and Satan, I didn’t create the world, I don’t know the amount of hair on your head, or the amount of sand on any given beach. I can’t see every thought in your head (thank the Lord) and I definitely can’t save you.
But I do know someone who can. I know someone who makes the sun rise in the east and set in the west, I know the person who breathes life into you every day, I know the one who takes life every day. He provides, nourishes, diminishes, teaches, loves, rebukes, counsels, and literally holds each one of us together. You see I can stand up here and tell you countless stories of how I was a divorced child, didn’t understand life, royally screwed up the “life” that I had, came to Vision of Hope and am now sitting in front of you today because Vision of Hope is a great place and because of how much hard work I put in, but what’s the point of a story if it doesn’t have a main character?
How do you have a love story when there is no one to love? What’s the purpose? I mean if I don’t tell you who Christ is, then it wouldn’t be the greatest love story of all time. It wouldn’t be a story at all! It wouldn’t make sense! It would have no adventure, no climax, no happy ending, it would be worthless. The love story I am about to tell is unlike any other! It has everything, failure, redemption, grace! This is a story about the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. A story about a Savior, MY Savior who fought for me when I knew I wasn’t savable; who loved me enough that He WILLINGLY gave up HIS life for a doped up drug addict who hated Him and wanted NOTHING to do with Him. This is a story about at love that doesn’t end here on this earth, no, just like the text reads, we will live to see the New Jerusalem in all its glory and splendor, we will drink from the river of life, and best of all, we will get to see the face of the voice that we have followed for life.
Have you ever heard the term Gentile, or tax-collector? I’m sure most of you have, well have you ever met one? If not, Hi, my name is Katelyn, and I am all of the above. You see I loved sin, it was everything I ever wanted and more, until it hated me, come to think of it, it never did like me. I loved it. Being a divorced child, I had every right in the world to be manipulative; to steal, to have sex with whomever I wanted, to experiment with drugs, whatever I wanted. You see that is the crazy thing about sin, it tells you that it’s okay to do, that it’s “normal”, and then when you get pregnant or become addicted, it condemns you and tells you how worthless you are. It hates you, from the very beginning.
So being addicted to drugs was okay because I came from a broken family, lying and robbing homes, and bringing other people down with me was A-Okay. I was dead, I had nothing to live for, and why should it matter? No one loved me, I was unsaveable, I was too far out. I was the Biblical definition of a fool. Now the cool thing about Jesus, this guy I was talking about earlier, is that He actually lived for people like me! That was His whole purpose. Don’t ask me why I will never know. But see, this guy was fully human, and fully God. Don’t ask me how, I will never know. And this man had this theory that all humans were sinners, and needed help. Turns out he was right. Now listen up because this is where it gets really good. He was pure, clean, blameless, holy. He was significantly other, meaning that NOTHING compared to Him. But being the sinners we are, we’re so deceived that we didn’t want to see that because we don’t measure up. So, we took him, beat him, which by the way is an understatement, put some thorns on his head, made him drag a wooden cross through a town and up a hill, and then let him hang there until he died. Now that’s not a fun thing to picture, but what I think people tend to neglect, is how that was NOTHING in comparison to his purpose on the cross. You see, every thought that you had today that wasn’t holy, every word you said, every wrongful desire, was laid upon him. And not just today’s sin; look around you He took everyone’s sin from today. That’s just in this place, on this one day. I cannot bear to think about every person that has walked this earth, and what that meant. You know you lie to someone and you think, “Oh I need to ask forgiveness, God will hate me. He will be mad at me, he won’t bring me blessings”, and we feel terrible on the inside. But what we don’t understand, is that we have no clue as to what the wrath of God feels like; but Jesus, He knew. ‘“Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”’-Mark 15:34. Funny thing is, I think about this and I feel so sad for Him, having his Father turn on him, when really, I was the Roman guard, I was the Jew shouting “CRUCIFY HIM! CRUCIFY HIM!”. Every drug that I took, every lie that I told, sent him there. Pretty heavy huh?
Well, this is what I would call the climax of the story. I said this was a love story right? I know sounds like more of a horror story. Interestingly enough, this guy did this, willingly. He knew from the beginning of time, the pain that he would endure. You see he loved us before the foundations of the earth were laid. This love thing, is something that I can’t begin to wrap my mind around. It’s not like a love we experience here. It’s not flowers and roses. It’s not rainbows and unicorns, this love is so other, that we have only tasted it. There is no possible way we can love like Christ. Have you ever heard the saying “Love can’t be bought”? Well I’m here to tell you that it was purchased alright. Not with gold, or silver, but with blood. This wasn’t a cheap trade-in, this was an intentional purchase, paid for by the sacrificial blood of Jesus the Christ. He loves us, and he is calling us to him. So it turns out, that this love wouldn’t let this guy stay dead. After 3 days he was sick of being in the ground, and he conquered death. He defeated sin. Are you hearing me? Satan no longer stands a chance, even the gates of Hell can’t shut us down because one man’s love fought for us when we were dead in our trespasses. And this is the gospel truth. This is why you are here today, because you are loved beyond all reason. Yes, I was a junky. Yes, I was promiscuous, yes I was a thief, I liar, a coward; but I can now come boldly to the throne of my Great High Priest who can sympathize with me, because when He looks at me, he sees that cross, and knows that I am his. “Therefore I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is ONE body and ONE Spirit- ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism; ONE God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
The end of the story is one of my favorite parts. So Jesus rises from the dead right, and He comes back to earth, sees all His friends and completes some prophecies while he’s at it. Then He ascends in the sky to the right hand of the Throne of God, that’s where He’s waiting for us. One day, He will return, and he will call us. We will joyfully bow before him, and we will confess him as Lord. Not just believers though, ALL will bow, ALL will confess. See God will get his glory, if not from us, the rocks will cry out and the mountains will bow. Not only did God send his Son for us, as if that’s not enough, He promises that He will dwell with us for eternity. Eternity, let me define this for you, Webster’s dictionary defines it like this, infinite time; duration without beginning or end. Now, let’s think about this, no beginning and no end that is like, FOREVER. Think about it, that is a long time! Oh wait, there is no time! You see we can’t ever think about what eternity even is, because we are so finite, so human, but our God, the God that we serve is inviting us, the crack heads, liars, cheaters, prostitutes, the angry, the complaining, the hostile, ALL of us He is calling to His side. He is calling us to wake up every morning, leave ourselves behind, and pick up His image of righteousness and truth, so that one day, after all the hard work and suffering we endured, we will spend forever and a day looking on the one who called us into existence.
I am very grateful for VOH and the role it has played in my life. I want to stand here and say it saved me, but it didn’t. Jesus did. Being a graduate and all, people are congratulating me on all my hard work and telling me how proud they are of me. I am grateful for that, but when you really stop and think about it, I’m just doing what I’m supposed to be doing. This is just my job on earth, it’s not some extra thing that is so great and miraculous, this is what I was supposed to be doing from the time I was born, being Christ’s image. It’s what you were born to do. The Holy Spirit is prevalent in that house, of that I am sure. He is working in the lives of EVERYONE involved there, and I am confident that every woman who walks in that house is looked upon with special grace. I thank you for coming today and celebrating the life of Jesus Christ with me. I want nothing more. I now leave you with something I learned from a friend of mine named, Much Afraid, who embarked on a journey quite similar to mine. “First I learned that I must accept with joy all that you allowed to happen to me on the way and everything to which the path led me. That I was never to try and evade it, but to accept it and lay down my own will on the alter and say, ‘Behold me, I am thy little handmaiden, Acceptance-with-Joy. Then I learned that I must bear all that others were allowed to do against me and to forgive with no trace of bitterness and to say to Thee, ‘Behold me- I am thy little handmaiden Bearing-with-Love’, that I may receive power to bring good out of this evil. The third thing I learned was that you, my Lord, never regarded me as I actually was, lame and weak and crooked and cowardly. You saw me as I would be when you had done what you had promised and had brought me to the High Places, when it could be truly said, ‘There is non that walks with such a queenly ease, nor with such grace, as she.’ You always treated me with the same love and graciousness as though I were a queen already and not wretched little Much-Afraid. The fourth thing was really the first I learned up here. Every circumstance in life, no matter how crooked and distorted and ugly it appears to be, if it is reacted to with love and forgiveness and obedience to your will, can be transformed.”