Filed under Biblical Womanhood Spiritual Growth
Over the summer our family visited the Sovereign Grace Church in Knoxville, TN—Cornerstone Church of Knoxville. That morning, a young woman named Shannon shared her story of leaving a Christian home to attend college, and the crisis of faith that followed. Her testimony was so powerful that we wanted to share it with you, and Shannon graciously gave us permission. So whether you are in college, just sent a child off to college, or are home with small children today (and feeling far away from your college days or theirs!) may you encouraged by how God used the members of one church to display the beauty and truth of His Word to one wayward college student.
I was blessed to be raised in a Christian family with strong involvement in an evangelical church. Because I was a “good kid,” I was confident in my ability to do the Christian walk right. It was with this ill-placed confidence that I left home and enrolled at a Christian college.
All freshmen at my college were required to take Bible classes, and the religion professors there taught that parts of Scripture were not true. Though my friends had no trouble believing the Bible anyway, my mind was filled with doubt. I had been taught all my life that Scripture was as accurate as any textbook, but my professors suggested that my parents and Sunday School teachers were deceiving me, trying to keep me sheltered from the real truth. In the end, I believed my professors instead of God’s Word.
I began by just questioning certain parts of Scripture, but the doubt quickly spread to other areas. Eventually, I wasn’t sure if God existed at all—and if He did exist, I wasn’t sure I liked Him. By the end of my second year in college, the doubt had progressed so far that I refused to read my Bible, and if I prayed, I only did so to challenge God to prove that He was real. More than once, I sat on my bed with my arms crossed and glared at my Bible with hatred.
Though I didn’t believe in the Bible, I also realized that if the Bible wasn’t true, then life was meaningless. This realization made me continually angry, cynical, and depressed. Still, I demanded answers to my questions—and I had many questions—before I would accept God as Lord of my life again.
I was in the worst phase of this hostile doubt when my brother and sister-in-law first began attending Cornerstone Church of Knoxville. My brother tried to persuade me to visit, and even though I initially refused, he just wouldn’t ever stop talking about the church. Finally, I agreed to go, knowing that visiting once was the only way he would leave me alone.
The Sunday I first came to Cornerstone, I avoided the greeters at the door, and I didn’t raise my hand to identify myself as a guest. But I was struck by a pre-teen boy sitting in front of me who was singing passionately during the music. I had never seen any pre-teen that excited about praising God before. As I looked around the church, I saw that this boy was no special case: other people exhibited the same delight in worship. Watching them sing, I knew these people had joy, which was something I missed—so I started to attend Cornerstone to see if I could have it, too.
Coming to Cornerstone helped me desire faith again. The pastors exhibited a firm belief in the truth and the power of Scripture, and instead of being offended at how countercultural the teaching was, I found it refreshing and challenging. I began to grow spiritually again, but I was still often crippled with fears that the Bible was a lie made by men and that I was wasting my time and life by believing what it said. On top of that, my classes at college still bombarded me with falsehoods, making it difficult for me to hold to my faltering faith.
This pattern continued for about a year, until I attended a class offered at Cornerstone on the doctrine of Scripture. I believe that God ordained this specific class, at this specific time, for my good. One day, as we were talking through one of the homework readings, I realized that if the Bible was true, then my doubt and accusations against a Holy God, along with the skepticism that had been so encouraged at my college, were atrocities in His sight. But if the Bible was true, then that also meant that God, though He had just reason to crush me for despising His Word, had mercifully provided His Son to absorb the full wrath for all the animosity I had shown toward Him. And even as I raged against Him, He had patiently and gently brought me to a church where I could see the height of my folly and the depths of his grace, where He had been planning all along to restore me to Himself. Hallelujah!
That morning, as I sat in the Scripture class quietly, nobody there knew that a drastic change was taking place in my soul. God was restoring my trust in Scripture and in Him. I was amazed as I tried to recall the questions I had long demanded answers to—and found that my doubts were unconvincing, powerless against the rush of joyful assurance that God had given me.
The changes in my soul were sweeping; faith and joy replaced my cynicism and misery. I began a read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan, and every morning I eagerly picked up the same Bible I had often glared at angrily just a year before. I read the warnings in Scripture about false teachers and being wise in my own sight, and I was amazed that God’s Word predicted the exact lies I had fallen for at college. And I treasured the mercy of God that would give me the gift of faith even though I had shaken my fist at Him and at His Word in hostility.
I still have the sinful tendency to struggle with doubt, but through Cornerstone Church, God has consistently, graciously provided me with support for the fight of faith. Through my four years here, other college students have challenged me, pastors have prayed for me, and people in my small group have lovingly walked with me through my hard questions. My husband, whom I met at Cornerstone, daily leads me to apply Scripture to every situation, and I can see its powerful effects in my life. I now know experientially that Scripture’s promises are true, and I praise God for the power of His living Word and for bringing me to a church where His truth is prized.