Hope Simmons // My Testimony

This is the first installment of the My Testimony series. You know Overcome by Jeremy Camp? The lyrics: "We will overcome by the blood of the lamp and the word of our testimony. Everyone overcome." We hope this series would do just that. Inspire you to overcome through Jesus by others beautiful testimonies of God's faithfulness in their lives.

    My name is Hope Simmons, I am a sixteen year old girl from Fort Worth Texas who was born into a Navy family in Yokosuka, Japan. I was destined for adventure when I was already back on a plane, island hopping around Japan when I was just three days old. But contrary to popular opinion I do not consider my greatest adventure to be when I spent two months in the mountains of upper state New York with a bunch of other music nerds. I don't even consider it to be when my family chose to go to Juarez, Mexico, one of the most dangerous cities in North America, despite the pleas of our grandparents. My greatest adventure is the one I began when my Love, Jesus Christ, whispered His love to my stubborn heart and pulled my dead body out of the deep waters of my sin. My greatest adventure began when I was thrown flat on my back with the realization that all is futile and decaying except the ever standing love story from God. My greatest adventure created song, dance, and everlasting joy in my life during the year that I fell deep in love with my Husband and He caused me to choose Him, His way, and only His way. And my greatest adventure still awaits me, still draws me in, and still lures my eyes to the infinite face of my Savior. I am still pulled to dream of the day upon which I will see, and fall on the ground before Him whom I will finally gaze on perfectly. Finally understanding clearly the astounding truth that He is crazy in love with...me? Yes me. And yes you, princess.

       Eight years ago, I begged my mom to let me start violin lessons. I still remember it, I was sitting at our kitchen table doing school on a spring day. I was seven years old, it was the same year I became a Christian (big year). Violin has always been an interesting journey. Within the first year it was apparent that I had talent, but the only thing I realized was that my parents had no interest in letting me quit! All 7 people in my family had played violin at one point or another in their life, but yet somehow I was the only one who hadn't been aloud to quit. I found it weird but God found it perfect. Turns out He had higher plans than a run of the mill Suzuki violin student. He had way bigger and better plans than insane camps in New York, conservatories, concert performances, and a professional music degree at college. His plan was the deepest and the most glorifying to Him and He was breaking me it to me, little by little, slowly but surely, over the course of 8 years.

    In the summer of 2011, I was invited to study in the mountains of New York for two months at a prestigious violin camp. God had pretty much dragged me to this point. You see, within three weeks of receiving my acceptance letter, I had already quit violin. Violin was so much weight to bare, it was so much money to think about spending and I didn't like it. I gave in to my flesh and quit violin in order to try and peel the burden off my own back by my own strength. God is a God who pursues His children though, and I thank Him for not letting me go more than two days without calling me back to the gift He had given me. So needless to say, walking onto those camp grounds in Westport, New York was nothing short of a miracle and a breathtaking adventure. God had provided all the funds for this camp and I realized He had me there for  reason; I was ready. Now, not meaning to disappoint you, but I'm going to skip over all the tiny details of this amazing summer and skip to about the time I arrived back home in Fort Worth, Texas.  I'm going to skip to a month after getting back home where I am in a physical therapists office. I'm stretching and strengthening my back and arm; I'm injured. After spending two whole months working intensively on my violin career and being inspired to go to a conservatory; after two months of decisions which implied my dedication of the near future to my studies, I was spending two months letting my fingers go cold in the waiting room of a physical therapy office. But let me just say, God was painting His picture just the way He wanted it and I'm just now starting to see, yes imperfectly, but still, I'm starting to see little glimpses of how beautiful it is going to be in the end.  Through the trials of injury, second guesses, and pain, God was bringing me to the point where He needed me to be in order to accept what He was planning on telling me a year later.

    It's a year later, a beautiful misty fall day in October. I've been though a change in teachers, and many new and inspiring happening in my walk with God.  Not to mention a life changing, ground shaking, heart numbing call from my Savior. As I have considered over the past few years why I was given my talent in music, why I was never allowed to quit, why I was enabled to go to music camp, why I was injured, and why I was never totally comfortable with the idea of  a normal life, I have begun to realize that I am not what this world is about. I am nothing without Jesus; I am worthless without Jesus. I have come to realize that for me, concert performance, conservatories, and college degrees are self-centered. I have a longing inside of me for more... more... more. Christ is that "more," Christ is the fulfillment and nourishment for the longing inside of  my heart. Throughout these 16 years on this earth, He has broken me, molded me, shaped me, torn me, hurt me, cried with me, laughed with me, prayed for me, and has made me...made me....the daughter He wants me to be. He has brought me to a point at which He could finally put a desire on my heart for missions. He has put a dream inside my head, but more than that, He has put a hope inside my head to go and spread His love in Africa. After hearing Him sing this longing into my life I still asked Him, "Why, though, God? And how, God? Doesn't violin play into this somewhere? Is this just a dream I'm making up for myself? Please, I need light, dear Savior, I need light. I feel blind." I felt as though I was getting in the way of seeing clearly where this was leading. He began to lead me through battles, showing me that the idols that I was holding so close to my heart had to die. I began to go  after them, a few too many times on my own, though. And as I nursed my battle wounds I began to clench tighter onto Christ's hand. And as I began to grow closer to Him I began to catch pictures of what He wanted me to do. These things brought hope, oh yes, eternal hope! I began to be filled with visions of less, but yet more, violin? What?! "God, I'm confused." I told Him one night. "Please, I need light!" I began to walk in the darkness, taking small, unnoticeable, by the world, steps through what appeared to be darkness but what was bright as the day to God. And suddenly, I beheld the glory of my leading Savior. Oh yes, my sweet Husband was leading me and answering my call for help. The Savior of all; the Creator of all, was answering my prayers. He led me to the decision that, yes, if  I was indeed going to pursue international missions than something had to change with violin. So the next week, I walked into my violin lesson and sat down with my precious teacher and talked with her, ultimately deciding to quit violin lessons. I didn't lose anything, because, in all reality, I'm closer to the truth of music then ever before.

    Christ has instilled in me a never dying desire to bring His love and His hope through music to Africa. Within the next few years I may be able to start investing in Ethiopia. But whatever happens, whether I get to go to Africa or I never get to the black faces and the red dirt of that country, I know now, not fully, but I'm beginning to know, that God has a bigger plan. And all the kicking and screaming I engage in is, at that moment, the response I am having to the fact that my Savior died on the cross for my sins. So I choose,on bended knee, today, to take up my job, today, of loving and glorifying my Savior and whatever He says that will mean today.

    Well, it looks like today that means back to school, but oh how He has changed the outlook on these things. He has changed my outlook on life, and little by little He is pouring out the realization that in Him, all things can be joyful. So see, I am no more special than you. The only thing that is special about me is my precious Lord. And, wait, that's the thing that is special about you too! Let my story encourage, inspire, and turn on the longing inside of you NOT to go to the mission field, but to stand in awe and trust what the Savior of the universe is doing in your life. So look around you and see and rejoice in the simple, little things. See what He has been doing in your life. Maybe things you have never noticed. I bet it is more breath taking than you have ever imagined. Let us live today. Yes, live; truly live.  

"For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain." // Philippians 1:21