As a young child I remember while visiting my maternal Grandparents that each evening before retiring, Grandpa and Grandma would sit in the wooden high back chairs by the huge bay window filled with potted plants and each would take turns reading from the Bible. Afterward, they would get down onto their knees by their respective chairs and pray; Grandpa first, then Grandma. Later in life I have often wondered if they were praying for the salvation of the stringy haired little girl who was peeking under the table, watching them. On Sundays they would take me to church. I do not recall the specifics about what was preached but I do remember that God was good and that Jesus loved me..
Later during my elementary years I attended a Vacation Bible school where I memorized John 3:16 as part of my Bible lesson. Although it did not seem to have much of a spiritual effect on me at that time, I never forgot the verse. As a young teenager I wanted to go to church, mainly because my home life had become quite unpleasant and I thought I could find some measure of happiness by attending church. My stepmother forbid me to go. During those years I specifically remember a time when I was so distraught that I knelt down on the back stairs and with tears streaming down my cheeks, asked God to help me. A child who is reared in a home where there isn’t any parental love suffers many forms of abuse, some which leave such ugly scars that only a Holy God can heal. I choose to believe that God heard my prayer that day.
In the years following high school I was wooed into the wickedness of the 60’s. Being a young woman who had never experienced genuine love I had an intense desire to find someone who would fill that void. Being from a small rural community I was oblivious to the ways of the world. It did not take long for my life to become a complete mess. Unknown to me at that time was that God wanted to fill that empty void in my life and was keenly aware of what was going on in my life. He had a plan for me, of which I was totally unaware.
Early in my marriage I found life to be very unpleasant. I discovered that my husband was ill-tempered and void of leadership skills. We came to the point in our marriage where we were facing financial bankruptcy and divorce. My heart ached for my seemingly misfortune of marrying the wrong man, but God allowed it for a reason. My husband’s sister was a Christian.
My sister-in-law talked to me about God and I was interested in what she was saying. She invited us to her church to see a movie, “The Thief in the Night.” It was about the Christians being removed from the world by God prior to his initiating the Tribulation period. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) The evening prior to the movie my husband and I had a terrible fight. When he reached his hand to help me off the floor he said “Maybe my sister is right; maybe we do need God.”
The night of the movie the Holy Spirit opened my eyes that the god of this world (Satan) had blinded and I realized that I was a sinner (Romans 3:23) on my way to hell. But, God so loved me that he sent his Son, The Lord Jesus to die on the Cross for my sins and that all I needed to do was to believe on him (John 3:16). So, on that night , in July of 1973, I called upon the name of the Lord Jesus and he forgave my sins, cleansed me from all unrighteousness and I became a new creature in Christ (Romans 10:13) (2 Corinthians 5:17)
After having been wondrously saved I began to realize several things immediately. I began to enjoy reading the Bible and going to church. Old things began to pass away; behold all things were becoming new. One of the first things that I learned from his Word is that God delights in answering the prayers of new-born babes in Christ. Since I did not have nice dresses to wear to church I asked God if he would provide me with some modest attire. Within two weeks I was given a boxful of dresses from an unusual source. The Lord had answered my prayer. The second prayer that God answered was related to our finances. We had such poor credit that no lending institution would grant us a loan to consolidate our bills. Through a series of persistent events, the Lord led us to a financial institution that was willing to grant us a consolidating loan.
It was not long after I had been saved that I was introduced to the doctrine of separation by the Youth Pastor of the church that I was attending. (2 Corinthians 6:14-17. After being convinced from the Word of God that this indeed was a commandment of God, the Lord led us to another church which practiced the doctrine of separation. It was while under the preaching of the Pastor of this church (the former youth Pastor) that I realized that the Devil delighted in ruining the lives of Christians, especially newly born converts. Because I struggled with a besetting sin, Satan tried to convince me that I was not really saved. My Pastor counseled me by showing me in God’s Word how I could know beyond a shadow of doubt that I belonged to Jesus.
In the years that followed I served the Lord by rearing my children, teaching Sunday School, serving in various offices of a Ladies Missionary Group and trying to be a Godly wife. There were periods of intense spiritual growth and other periods of drought. Thankfully the Lord continued his work in me. Perhaps the greatest hindrance to my spiritual growth was my marriage and the Devil worked overtime in trying to keep me discouraged and defeated. It was a promise that I made to my daughters that kept me within God’s will not to divorce my spouse.
My husband’s health began to deteriorate and I found myself in the role of Nurse/patient. His bitterness and anger at not being able to work made life even more challenging. My girls were grown, out of college, some married. My husband and I did have one joy in common and that was our grandchildren. I was faithful in church attendance, but God was not the center of my life. The last time my husband was hospitalized he begged me to take him home and let him die. Two weeks later I curled up in the bed beside him, wrapped my arms around his chest and kept a watch until the Lord took him home. I praise the Lord for his grace that caused me to keep my promise to my girls.
I was not prepared for the new life as a widow. Many were the goals that I set for myself and I had determined never to marry again. However, once again, God had to show me that it is not my will but his, on which I needed to focus. One by one God intervened and shut one door after another. It was really getting to by frustrating because I was determined to have my way! The Lord had to take me through a series of hard times and heartache to being me to the place that I was willing to surrender my will to him. God led me to attend a different church and it was there that he was able to really get my attention through the Word that was being preached by the Pastor. As I began growing again, the Lord has used a former acquaintance to be an inspiration and encouragement to me. God always knows what and who we need to draw us closer to him. He will never leave me or forsake me.
Now as I face the last chapters in my life I am truly grateful to the Lord Jesus for shedding his blood on the Cross of Calvary for me. I praise the Holy Spirit for his leading, for bringing me under convictions for those things in my life that are not pleasing to God. My Heavenly Father has loved me with an ever lasting love and has kept me for himself. As I struggle to keep God in the center of my life, I am so thankful that he that hath begun a good work in me will continue to do so until the day of Jesus Christ.