Soli Deo Gloria
Growing up in a Christian home, Natalie’s parents always told her that God was good. But recovering from a terrible accident in the hospital where doctors were unsure if she would make it out alive, she felt confused and wondered about God’s goodness. Natalie had fallen off a horse, which put her in the hospital for two weeks with a lacerated liver that required two blood transfusions. As she waited for her body to heal enough to go home, she questioned what she thought she knew: bad things weren’t supposed to happen to Christians, right?
Natalie’s curiosity about the Lord started in 8th grade when she started going to FCA at school at the invitation of friends. Something was missing, but she just didn’t know what it was yet. She didn’t have a personal relationship with the Lord, but she surrounded herself with other believers who did and modeled what that looked like. The FCA group was very encouraging and supportive of Natalie in her faith journey. They bought her a Bible and they all signed it with their favorite verses. These verses proved to be the foundation of Natalie’s understanding because she had never known where to start before. She had tried reading in Genesis, but just couldn’t keep momentum or understand what she was reading. She turned to her friend’s favorite verses and started with Romans 5:8, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
“Even when I may not acknowledge Him, He still loves me.”
The turning point came when Natalie went to middle school camp in Missouri with James River Church. She says if she had a moment where she heard God speaking to her, it was then. The camp focused a great deal on having a personal relationship with God, but Natalie still understood Christianity as a list of rules and a way to live life in a way that boosted one’s own self-image rather than God’s. She learned life is about glorifying God and that should be her focus. She realized she had need of a Savior because her sin was so heavy. She recognized when she focused on worldly things, it affected her life. But knowing her Savior could wash her clean of all her sin changed her outlook and all she wanted to do was tell everyone about this glorious God who had saved her. Natalie later became an FCA leader in high school and had the opportunity to share her testimony at various events all over the county.
Natalie met her boyfriend Jack in their junior year of high school. Jack was on his own faith journey, and they learned about God, growing in their faith together. In college, they struggled to find community in various college groups. Natalie helped to lead worship for Sojourn’s middle schoolers and also attended a women’s college group. But Graceland ultimately became Natalie and Jack’s home where they both decided it was time to go public in their faith and get baptized. (You can read Jack’s story on the Graceland blog.)
Natalie initially struggled relinquishing control when giving her life to Christ, but now experiences peace only He can give. She wants others to know that regardless of your doubts, your struggles, your sin, Jesus loves you at your darkest moments. He loves you when you know nothing of Him. Romans 5:8 is still a foundational verse for her. No matter what, Jesus loves her even at her worst.
We are all putting our faith in something. In Natalie words, “what do you put your faith in if not Jesus? If you are putting it in something else, consider how it will fail you. Now consider how Jesus will fail you. He can’t! Put your faith in Jesus. He will never stop loving you and He will never fail you.”