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Alycia Vander Vegt

My family has given me a legacy of Christian living. Faith has been a part of my vocabulary for as long as I can remember. Even so, my faith was not my own
 for a very long time, and it took me many years to see that it is not my father’s 
faith that saves me, but rather seeing through my own eyes the blood of Christ
 shed once for all, witnessing His victorious resurrection, and daily saying,
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

I grew up in a “Christian” home. I remember attending church weekly, going to AWANA, answering questions in Sunday school — the whole gamut. 
There was one point, though, as a young child, that a woman at my church
 asked me if I wanted to accept Jesus as my Savior. She was our daycare provider at the time, and just that day, my best friend from daycare had 
asked Jesus to be a part of her life. I said yes, but I remember being confused. Because of what my mom had told me, I thought I was already a Christian.
 I thought her belief applied to me. This woman at my church graciously 
explained to me that, no, my mother’s faith does not save me.

Though I said “the prayer” that day, and I am sure God used it for His purposes,
 I went through years after that confused about what had happened that day. 
My first year at a Christian camp, I became distressed over the state of my soul.
 Was I really saved? How do I know if I am or if I am not? What’s supposed 
to be different? My counselor at camp gave me verses to look up regarding 
assurance of salvation, but I never gave them a second glance.

My confusion persisted. I went to other camps, experienced “mountaintop” times, where I was on-fire for the Lord, learning verses, feeling like I was growing closer to Him in love. I don’t want to cast a doubtful eye to those times, but there would always be a sort of clutching that happened as I descended the mountain. My faith seemed impossible to carry out into the rest of my life. Only for the week of camp in the summer did faith seem genuine, real, and applicable. I couldn’t convey my excitement over to the rest of my family, and whatever had happened at camp fizzled out in the mire of the mundane.

We still attended weekly church services, did AWANA, and I still had all the Sunday school answers. By all appearances, I was a good kid in a good family. But the thing about façades is that they are always inconsistent. Home life was dreadful. My parents divorced when I was young, and I had so much anger, so much disgust, so much selfishness tied up into my life. Not because of the divorce, but that event certainly made obvious the sin in my heart.

To this day, I cannot tell you what changed within me. Certainly God had always been at work in my life, but it was when I was 13 or so that my questions of salvation changed to questions of “Why do I believe what I believe, and how does it matter to the rest of my life?” The tone of the questions changed, too: I wasn’t asking them out of bitterness but out of genuine concern for what the answers would mean for me, for my life. Jesus’ name became precious, and I wanted to know what it would be to glorify Him and enjoy Him.

Some people talk of Jesus coming into their lives like a Mack truck hitting a car — He changes everything almost instantly. I think my own father and stepmom
 have stories like this. My story with Jesus was (and continues to be) a wave against a jagged rock, a really, really jagged rock. He ebbs and flows against
 me, shaping me and molding me. There are seasons where He is very near,
 and there are others when it’s like I’ve been abandoned. Truly, though, He is always there, like that water. A shore is no shore without a body of water;
 I am not me without Christ and His Body (the Church).

Currently, God is teaching me about friendship. It sounds a bit odd, maybe, but I am realizing the magnitude of it, especially in a world that is so easily satisfied with transient relationships. Friendship is more than just a convenient relationship, I am learning. God has given us examples in His Word of meaningful and lasting relationships, and I am challenged and encouraged by them.

"While (Jesus) was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man
 who told him, 'Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?' And 
stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, 'Here are my mother
 and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven
 is my brother and sister and mother.'"  Matthew 12:46-50