“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” OR Happy Birthday to me!

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. –Ephesians 2:8-9

5

This past Saturday, April 27, was the five-year anniversary of my being saved. I found myself thinking a lot that day about how things change in five years; how much we grow (physically, emotionally, mentally), how many decisions we make (whether right or wrong), the people that come and go. I think it is important to reflect on our lives often, not just to reminisce, wish for the past, or dwell on regrets, but to realize how far we have come in our lives and all the events and people that God has placed in our paths along the way.

 April 26, 2008, I was in a car accident (ironically on my way to an event at church) that I came away with just some scrapes and bruises. I don’t know if I have any pictures of my car anymore – it was considered totaled after it flipped over, both of us upside down on the side of a country road. I rounded the curve too close to the outside, hit some gravel and overcorrected, then swerved violently before finally flipping over and landing upside down. My stomach still drops when cars make swerving motions, and I still feel anxious when I hear the sound of screeching tires. I called my mom sobbing because I didn’t know who else to call; she has Multiple Sclerosis, so there wasn’t much she could do for me other than making some more phone calls and worrying about me. Real smooth, Holliday. Real smooth.

The next 20 minutes were such a blur, but the people that I encountered are still pretty clear. A man drove by the scene shortly after and called 911 for me; I remember he had a verse of scripture on his shirt. I had been following my friends’ family so when they realized I was no longer behind them they came back for me; their hugs were so comforting at that moment. The police officer in the ambulance told me that God had a bigger plan for me that day. God certainly provided me with comforting people that day. How else could it be explained?

Later that day, my boyfriend at the time had asked me, “If things had turned out different [AKA if you had not made it out of this alive], do you know where you would be right now?” I had been attending church regularly for the past year. I volunteered for church events. Heck, I had been on my way to bond with a group of women from the church to make soup! I had never done drugs, I didn’t drink, I didn’t swear; I was a good person. But somehow I knew that these things weren’t enough.

 So the following day, Sunday, I walked into Pastor’s office and prayed to God to save me and take hold of my life. I was baptized a couple months later; my testimony verse is Romans 5: 3-5, which says

More than that we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Over the past five years, I have stumbled. I have looked to God for selfish reasons. I have tried doing things my own way. I have been impatient. But just as well, despite all of these things, God has never ceased to bless me. No matter how many times I fall, God has never failed to pick me back up. He has thrown things in my path that, at times, seemed insurmountable. But He has also blessed me immeasurably.

Five years ago today, if you asked me where I would be in five years, I would have never guessed where my life is today. I never would have thought I would get accepted into SUNY Geneseo, get involved with InterVarsity, meet so many wonderful, amazing people, and receive my Bachelors degree. I would never have guessed I would meet and fall for a tall, red-haired guy named Tom at a church event. Who knew I would be accepted into Teachers College, Columbia University, and move to New York City?

There are so many things that I never would have imagined for my life. But God is funny in that way; we think we know what we want, we think we know what is best for us, but God knows so much more and has so much more planned for us. Like Isaiah 55:8-9 says:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares 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.

 These past five years have shown my how much deeper my testimony is; in the beginning, it was because I was afraid of dying and going to Hell. I realize that I was saved even though my reasoning may have been pretty shallow – I mean, being saved is being saved, we shouldn’t feel the need to compare our testimony with others.  Tim Hawkins is a Christian comedian and he has a short skit that addresses this need to compare testimonies and the desire to have a “good” testimony (watch it here). I have grown to realize that my whole life is a testimony to God; He has gotten me through pretty crappy stuff, sometimes without my consciously realizing it.

Who knows where I’ll be in five years? I sure as heck don’t! And I don’t really feel like limiting myself to who/what/where I think I’ll be in five years. Whatever I think, God’s plan is so much better than I could even imagine. Cheers, God. Here’s to another five.

Cotton Candy…in the bible?

Sometimes The Message makes me laugh. I usually cross-reference verses using BibleGateway between ESV (English Standard Version), NIV (New International Version), NLT (New Living Translation), AMP (Amplified Bible), MSG (The Message), and LOLBT (LOLcat Bible Translation). Granted the last one is just for a laugh.

So I was leisurely searching around in my ESV, found a passage in Isaiah, and wanted to see parallels from other translations. And The Message gave me this:

Hey there! All who are thirsty,
     come to the water!
Are you penniless?
     Come anyway—buy and eat!
Come, buy your drinks, buy wine and milk.
     Buy without money—everything’s free!
Why do you spend your money on junk food,
     your hard-earned cash on cotton candy? 

               –Isaiah 55:1a, 2a (MSG)

I understand that this particular translation is meant for a more contemporary, new-age group of Christians looking for layman’s terms; no thous or shalts or cometh-ing. But some of the content, to me, sounds just plain silly. I mean, come on, you couldn’t come up with something other than cotton candy? I realize that the lolcat version includes cheezburgrz, but it is also not being sold and used in churches. Then again, I guess a pro of The Message is that you can read the bible as an infomercial and sound legit. Now we just need a ridiculous commercial to go with it.

Which reminds me: a couple of friends posted this on Facebook this week; it was a post on Mashable regarding infomercials. I laughed so much I was crying. True human beings in all our imperfect glory.

Question: Do you think that The Message truly captures the message of the bible? Or does ‘cotton candy’ and the commercialized language deter from it in a way? Answer using the poll – only percentages will show. Also, leave a comment if you have something else to add!