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Never Quite Good Enough

by Jenni Paulsen | I Believe!

When I was in sixth grade, my grandpa died of cancer. A few months later, my grandma on the other side of the family also died of cancer. This was the first difficult time in my life that I can remember. It seemed to be a wake-up call for my mother, and we began attending church. I didn’t really know anything about church. It was all so new, but I wanted to like church desperately. I wanted to be “good.” About the same time, my parents were looking at an alternative to the public junior high school for me to attend. A friend invited me to check out the private Christian school she would be going to, and I leapt at the chance to have a friend in the same boat.

This new school was a completely different world to me. We had to wear skirts, carry a bible, pray at the beginning of class, listen to devotionals, go to Bible class and participate in weekly chapels with great music, excellent speakers and altar calls. My friend and her mother walked me through all of it, and I’m sure they were praying for me too! They took me to the Bible store to buy my first Bible, even showing me how to put tabs in it so I could easily find the unfamiliar books.

They invited me to youth group and included me in all the activities. I still remember the first Bible verse I had to memorize for school, Philippians 4:8:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

As I was absorbed into this loving environment, I began to understand that I was sinful and that I could never be good enough for God on my own. Inwardly, I was self-centered, prideful, lacking self-control and hot-tempered.

At youth group, I accepted Christ’s complete forgiveness and his call on my life to be a follower of Jesus. I am so grateful for the grace that covered my life at an early age and lead me to Jesus.

Looking back on these events so many years ago and trying to remember what propelled me to Christ, and the condition of my heart back then, I see that I am still somewhat the same. I still struggle with selfishness, pride and careless words. But I daily trust in the sanctifying work of my Savior who is always faithful. He has redeemed me.

Over the years, the basic outline of my testimony remains the same; however, the emphasis and lessons the Lord is teaching me vary. Today, I am struck by three things.

1. God’s plan is perfect. Out of tragedy he was calling me to him. He used the death of an old, sick man to catapult me to faith, and my mother’s return to faith. There were a hundred different things that had to happen in order to get me to go to that Christian school so I could hear the gospel and receive it. God is sovereign in it all.

2. God uses relational ministry. My friend and her mother were ministering to me, and I didn’t even know it. They continued to include me and invite me and love on me for Jesus sake. Doing life together and developing friendship is one of the most powerful ways we can share our faith.

3. Prayer is key. Perhaps I should have listed this one first. Prayer changes my heart and prepares the way for the gospel to be shared and to spread.

About Jenni

Jenni and her husband, Nate, have two teenagers in the house—son, Jaden, and daughter, Jillian.

Jenni has served in Kids’ Harbor and Upward Basketball. She currently serves on the Evangelism Committee.

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