Welcome to CoCo’s Chitchat! Today, we are continuing our “Meet the Church” series with another sister in Christ, Lydia Lobb. Her story really blessed me, and I pray it blesses you as well!
1. When did you accept Jesus, and what was that experience like for you?
When I was about four, I remember my mom doing Bible lessons with me everyday. One day the lesson was about what heaven was like and how to get there. Afterward I found the most hidden part of my house that I knew of and prayed what is often called “the sinner’s prayer,” telling God that I knew I was a sinner and that I believed that He had sent His Son to die for me and rise from the dead.
I did this many times until in another lesson I learned that I only needed to do it once. I never told anyone about those prayers, and if anyone asked me I told them I was a Christian. I always knew all the answers in Sunday School, but I don’t remember thinking about spiritual things very often or trying to live to glorify God, though I was almost always a “good” little girl.
Then, when I was almost ten, my grandpa died. Shortly before he died, he had been at our house and one of our dogs had laid its head on his chest. Someone made the comment that it was like the dog knew he was going to die. A few weeks later I was reading on the couch when the dog came up and laid her head on my chest. A sudden fear ran through me. Now I know that that person hadn’t been serious, and our dog does that to everyone, all the time, but back then I couldn’t shake the fear of death from me. All at once, that fear filled me with worries. What if I wasn’t really saved? What if I died and went to hell? Or what if the rapture happened and I was left behind?
Shaking and nearly in tears, I found my mother and talked to her about it. She suggested that I try praying again, but it didn’t help. She gave me wise answers to my worries, but for some reason, I was not convinced. Even though she told me that how I felt didn’t matter, I still had it stuck in my mind that when you get saved you’re supposed to have this feeling of great peace and joy and like a great burden had been lifted off your shoulders. I had listened to Unshackled, and everyone on that radio program felt that way after accepting the Lord. I couldn’t understand why that wasn’t happening to me.
This went on for several years. I never wanted to be alone, and if I suddenly couldn’t find anyone, I would panic, thinking that the rapture had happened and I had been left behind. Finally I grew so weary of this that I was able to push the worries to the side, and for a while everything seemed fine.
Then when I was around fourteen years old I think it was, I was lying in bed one night when a paraphrase of James 2:10 popped into my head, “If you commit one sin, you are guilty of all.” Suddenly I understood that I was just as guilty before God as a person who had tortured and killed thousands of people. Immediately new and old doubts flooded me. God used various people over a long period of time to help answer them, but the one question that plagued me over and over again was, “What if I don’t really believe?”
I don’t remember how much time went by, maybe two or three years, when a pen-pal and dear friend asked me in a letter how I got saved. I hesitated on what to write to her. My immediate family were the only ones that had any idea what I was going through. She had said that she had doubted her salvation for a while, so I decided to be completely honest with her. I told her I didn’t really know if I was saved and I told her all my doubts.
She wrote me back a letter filled with so many truths that I had been missing or that had never sunk in till I read her letter. She told me that God wanted me to be saved and shared verses to back it up. (See 2 Peter 3:9 for example.) God was not up in heaven thinking, “Oh, hehe, I’ve got Lydia so confused! She doesn’t quite believe enough, so I don’t have to save her!”
I cried reading it, and realized that the way I had been looking at this was ridiculous and completely wrong. She went on to say that Satan didn’t want me to have assurance of my salvation, so that was probably why I was having so many doubts. She also explained that you could tell whether you are saved or not by looking for evidence of the Holy Spirit in your life (Him convicting you, verses suddenly making sense, ect.). Then she told me that if I could see evidence of the Holy Spirit in my life, to stop worrying about whether I really believed or not and just live for the Lord, because if I had the Holy Spirit in my life then I was saved!
After thinking about it for a little while, I realized that I definitely could see the Holy Spirit working in my life. I took my friend’s advice, and though it took some time of constantly combating the doubts with truth, I was finally able to stop worrying about it all the time because I now knew that I am saved. That’s not to say that Satan didn’t ever try to make me doubt more after that, but every time he did, I combated it with truth, and it made those doubts lose their power.
After reading that you may be confused and wondering just when exactly did I get saved. The fact is that I don’t really know. I might have gotten saved when I was four, fourteen, or an age in between. When I got saved is not nearly as important as who saved me. Jesus, God’s Son, died for my sins and rose again three days later, and at some time in my life, I believed that and He did a work in my heart. I’m a child of God now, and no one can change that, because He holds me secure, so I will never lose the promise of eternal life.
2. Who or what has had the most impact on your spiritual journey?
Probably my mom and my friend/ pen-pal.
3. Why do you personally continue to seek Jesus? In what ways has He changed your life?
As Simon Peter said in John 6:68 when Jesus asked the disciples if they would go away as the others that had forsaken Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.” There is no one like Jesus. There is no alternative to living for Him. The only other option would be to live for self, which would really be serving Satan. Jesus is the only one with the words of eternal life. To forsake Him would mean a life of emptiness. He gives my life purpose, a reason to keep going, and a reason to not despair. He changed my heart, giving me a desire to serve and please Him. I can sleep at night because I know He is in control. I can step out of my comfort zone to follow Him because I know He will be right there with me, helping me every step of the way.
4. What is the hardest struggle for you about being a Christian and/or believing/obeying the Bible?
I don’t know if this is necessarily the hardest thing, but I can find it really hard sometimes to be truly loving the way 1 Corinthians 13 describes.
5. What characteristic of God do you appreciate/connect with the most?
I love how long suffering/ patient God is. Even though we constantly make mistakes and disobey Him, He still loves us and doesn’t give up on us. He continues working in our lives. (Philippians 1:6)
6. What are your favorite books of the Bible and why? Any specific verses that are special to you?
Oooo, hard question! My favorite book of the Bible always seems to be the one we are studying at church at the time LOL. That’s probably because the more in depth I study a book of the Bible the more I love it. I especially love the Gospels (because they are all about what Jesus said and did), Psalms (because they are very encouraging and there is at least one that applies to whatever you are going through), 1+2 Samuel (because of all there is to learn from the good and bad examples, especially David, and what we can learn about God by how He dealt with many different people), Acts (because I love learning about how the early church spread), 1 John (because it teaches about assurance of salvation and how to love God), and Ecclesiastes (because I love how poetic it is and am encouraged to learn what few parts of life are not useless to put time into). I also love all the Epistles because of all their doctrine and practical application and have a hard time picking favorites between them.
One verse that’s special to me is Isaiah 43:13, “For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” God holding my hand is such an encouraging picture; knowing that He is right here beside me. Another special verse is Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” It reminds me that I don’t have to understand everything, I just need to trust that God knows what He’s doing.
7. What does spending time with God/reading the Bible look like for you? Any resources you’d recommend or advice you’d give to someone struggling in this area?
Right now I’m following a Bible reading schedule that takes me through the Bible chronologically. You can find it here. It’s really helpful for understanding the context of each passage and how everything fits together as a whole. I read 1-6 chapters a day, depending on how long each chapter is, how long it takes me to read each chapter, how much time I have that day, ect.
I also like to use two different Bible versions- King James Version (KJV) and Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). If you are having a hard time understanding what the words and phrases mean in your Bible reading, I’d highly recommend trying a HCSB. The translators tried their best to use language that is the most understandable to modern readers while still keeping it as close to the original meaning as possible. I usually do most of my daily Bible reading in my HCSB, and compare some verses with my KJV. If I come across a verse that I really like, then I highlight it in my KJV. My HCSB is a study Bible, so I also read the study notes as I go. I’ve found study Bibles to be really helpful, so they’d definitely be on my list of recommended resources.
I try to spend about 10 minutes a day memorizing Bible verses. It’s especially enjoyable having longer passages memorized.
I’m also trying to incorporate more prayer into my life. For a while I did a challenge where I prayed a prayer of thankfulness everyday and wrote down one or a few things I was thankful for. It was a really good challenge for helping me to see that I really do have so much to thank God for. I’ve also found a prayer journal to be very beneficial. It’s easier for me to stay focused when I’m writing than praying silently, and I love being able to look back on how God worked in my life. It also helps me process my thoughts and there is something about writing my worries down that makes it easier to give them to God and stop worrying about them so much.
8. Can you share a time (or two) you’ve experienced an answer to prayer, or seen God in your life? Any particular moments you just knew He was there? Nothing is too small. 🙂
One time, while at a family get-together at a lake, my toddler nephew and I were walking along the shore when we both noticed an unusual hole in the ground. It was quite shallow, maybe only about an inch deep, approximately 4 inches wide and 6 inches long, and a very scraggly shape.
“I jump in hole,” my nephew announced. He immediately began to jump up and down and stomp in it.
Suddenly his legs were surrounded by black jackets! I started for just a moment wondering if this really could be so. Was there actually some kind of bee swarming around his legs? Where had they come from so fast?!?!
No matter. I needed to get my nephew away from them as quickly as possible. He was still having a joyous time, completely unaware of the potential owies. Carefully and slowly I led him away from the hole. Unbelievably, only one black jacket followed us. It stationed itself on my nephew’s shorts. That was when I really began to panic. Someone must kill the black jacket, but not me. I would be sure to miss it or not hit it hard enough. I looked around for the closest person I thought could do it.
One of my uncles wasn’t very far away so I yelled to him, but by the time he got there the black jacket had flown away. My nephew never cried, in fact, he seemed quite oblivious to the whole thing. The black jackets didn’t sting him at all, not even once! He jumped on their house and they swarmed all around him, but he didn’t get stung!
I believe God must have had His hand of protection around my nephew that day, or that would not have been possible. It reminded me that I really can trust that God is sovereign, and that He doesn’t allow anything to happen to us that will not ultimately be for good. God doesn’t even allow black jackets to sting us unless there is a reason.
9. In contrast, can you share a time in your life when you experienced great fear/doubt/opposition in your walk with God? If it was in the past, what helped you get through it?
After being convicted for a while that I should get baptised, I finally went to my pastor and told him that I would like to be baptised. As soon as I walked away from talking with him, a terrible feeling of anxiety filled me that refused to go away. That night I couldn’t sleep. Finally I woke my mom up and told her about it. She said that Satan was trying to stop me from being baptised, because that is a major step of obedience in a believer’s life. It was true. Satan was trying to make me doubt my salvation again, question my motives for being baptised, and about anything that would convince me not to go through with it.
I didn’t back down. The day came for me to give my testimony in front of the whole church (which is something my church does before you get baptised). My hands shook as I walked up to the front and I cried the whole time I gave my testimony. And though I was that nervous while I did it, what relief I had when I was done! The feeling of anxiety was replaced with confidence and peace. Declaring in front of others that I was a follower of Christ brought me confidence that it was true. I had decided to follow Jesus, and I was not turning back. After a couple of delays due to weather, I was baptised several months later. The confidence that I gained from giving my testimony publicly remains to this day.
10. What has God been teaching you and/or been doing in/through your life in this season?
Lately God has been teaching me that I need to rely on Him moment by moment and stop putting so much pressure on myself. I often feel like there are so many things I should be doing and I worry that I won’t have enough time and/or energy and I get frustrated when I make mistakes. Instead I should just be faithful by doing the next thing and constantly being in prayer. Here is part of my thoughts I wrote in my prayer journal after reading Hebrews 4:15+16, “I never thought of how many implications there are when you think on the two verses together instead of separately. Because You were tempted just as I am, because You know exactly what I’m going through, you compassionately invite me to come to You. And not only do I not need to be afraid to come, You invite me to come boldly, knowing that you will give me grace and mercy, and You truly do understand. Here I’ve been struggling while ignoring my greatest source of help. I’ve been tempted and was just trying to get through this on my own, when what I really needed was Your grace and mercy that come from coming to Your throne.”
11. Is there anything else you’d like to say to the person reading this? Any words of encouragement or advice?
Don’t follow your feelings, lead them. Feelings come and go, but the truth does not change. Obey God, do what you know He wants you to do, and don’t worry so much about how you feel. Often, the feelings will come after you obey. For instance, maybe one day you don’t feel like reading your Bible, but you start reading it anyway, and as you read it, you start to enjoy it. So follow God whole-heartedly, and make your feelings follow you.
Lydia Lobb lives in Minnesota with her parents, pets, and farm animals. She loves a faith-filled story of characters making hard choices that challenge her to do the same for the glory of God. She hopes her writing will one day make the same impact on others.