Pastor Linda Knotts
Linda's Personal Testimony:
There have been three major struggles in my life related to my relationship with Father God. I assume that I am not the only one that has had obstacles in the way and hindering that amazing intimate relationship with most high God. I do know that having them gone is amazing, delightful, and very freeing.
I had a difficult and challenging childhood. My home was toxic. I didn't realize as a child how toxic it was. I knew something was missing, but I didn't know what it was. I know now that my home was filled with fear, but as a child, you don't know. It was just the way it was. Just before my mother passed away, she told me how afraid she was of my dad, and then it all clicked into place. It explained the prevailing atmosphere. I grew up feeling it but not able to identify it. A good part of this was my mom. She was afraid of everything. She grew up afraid of her own mother and then married a man that she feared. Understand that everything was kept quiet and private. Never once did I hear them fight or disagree. Everything was kept away from us. Everything, that is, except the toxic atmosphere. My dad ruled by intimidation. We had a thick leather strap hanging in our home that he used for spanking us. I find it difficult to describe my dad. He was a hard-working and moral man, but he was also distant, mean, unapproachable, uncaring, and emotionally unavailable. My life was a life of avoiding Dad. When I was little, I tried to help, but he was not a teacher and shamed me if I didn't know something, so I learned to stay away. Dinner time was like waiting for a time bomb to go off. All of my childhood was waiting for the boom. Now I can look back and be grateful for that feeling, because it was what caused me to see that other people lived differently.
We lived on an isolated 15-acre farm. My mom did not drive, so we spent most of our time there alone. One day, a car drove up our long driveway. As was the tradition back then, we went out to their car to meet them. They came to invite us to church. My brother said no, but quiet, shy little Linda peeped around her mother and said “Yes, I want to go.” They picked me up on the appointed day and took me to church. I was 7½. I don't remember a sermon and have no idea if there was a children's church. All I remember was that it was crowded – ah, but then they sang “Onward Christian Soldiers.” They sang it liked they believed every word. I realized these people were different. They were alive and joyful, something I had not experienced even in our extended family. Afterward, they dropped me off at the beginning of our driveway, and as I walked up to the house I remember saying to myself, “I don't know what those people have, but my family doesn't have it, and I want it.”
God heard my heart. The summer I turned nine, my dad sold the farm and moved us to a small coastal town on the Oregon coast. The first Sunday we were there, I noticed the neighbor kids were all walking down the street, and I wanted to know where they were going. Seems they were going to church, so I went with them. Six months later, my dad bought a house about two miles out of town. But God had a plan. They had a church bus, and it picked me up every Sunday morning until I started to drive myself. This became my church home for the next nine years.
At thirteen, I went forward in church and committed my life to Christ and was baptized. No one from my family came to see me baptized. This decision was so important to me that I was willing to do it alone.
Thus began my Christian walk. It has sometimes felt long and difficult, with healing and intimacy just out of reach. My first big challenge was seeing my dad in between myself and Father God every time I tried to draw close to Him. I could clearly see my dad standing in between us in the spirit. This may have been Father's way of getting my attention. When I had finally grown in my identity enough to know who I was in Him, it became a simple exercise of spiritually picking my earthly father up and moving him to the side. I knew that Father God was my real father. He was my creator, the one who decided my DNA and my gifting, etc. Of course, I had to go through the process of forgiveness, and as I did, Father God gave me what I needed to understand my dad better and to let him go.
Now, even though I couldn't see my father in between us anymore, I was still very hesitant to draw close. I was full of false beliefs about who Father God was. Gradually, I realized that I thought Father God was just like my dad. Now I knew in my head who Father God was, but in my heart there was an expectation that He was just like him. How could I approach Father God as mean, distant, and uncaring? After a lot of prayer, I realized that Father God was not like my dad. But who was He? My head said He was love, but my heart wasn't so sure. God is so faithful. He answered my heart by giving me Graham Cooke's Fruit of the Spirit. As I was listening one day and he said the Fruit of the Spirit is who God is, I remember saying out loud, “I know who He is.” So simple, you might say, but sometimes our own false beliefs get in the way of understanding the obvious.
My third challenge came as I was reading the Great Commandment. I remember thinking, “I can't do this.” I don't even know what love looks like. Love was not demonstrated to me growing up. How can I possibly love Him this way? By then I had been reading the Word for a long time. The word says we love Him because He first loved us, so I knew I needed to know more about His love for me in order to love Him in return. I started to pray for more revelation of His love. I have lost count of how many times I have prayed this. Slowly, little by little, He started to answer my prayer. I don't think I will ever stop asking. He can do a huge download, but for me, little by little was the answer. I never got overwhelmed – it was never too much at once. You see, He knows me and loves me, and I can trust Him to give me just the right amount at just the right time.
Maybe you are like me, and you have had a father that has been in the way of your relationship with Father God. Maybe you don't have a sense of who Father really is. Maybe you have not had any revelation of Father God's love for you. It doesn't matter how old you are or how young you are. Father is waiting for you to invite Him to do an amazing work in you. Is your heart open to being loved? Do you really want to know who He is, or are you content to sit back and do nothing? Do you want roadblocks gone? Where do you want to be in your relationship when you are old? Why waste any more time? Open your heart to His love and look forward to all that He has for you.
Linda Knotts - 9/4/2018