THE TESTIMONY OF WILLIAM M. MENDENHALL
I am now 49 years old. I grew up lower middle class in the suburbs of the mid-west. Like many others, I guess I was a troubled child that didn't understand the world I lived in or my place in it. Often times I would find myself asking the same question over and over. Why I am here and why was I put in this world at all? I would find out later that someone was listening.
I grew up in a non-denominational church. That particular church really never told the whole story, I think because they didn't know themselves. The short of it was God loves us, Jesus is his son, and died so we could go to heaven instead of hell. All things came from God - good or bad. All things brought me to the conclusion that God is real and He doesn't care. After all there are a lot of really bad things that go on in the world we live in. Hunger, homelessness, war, murder and on and on. So, I pretty much just started doing whatever I wanted.
At the age of seventeen I began to do a variety of drugs and for the sake of economics began to sell them as well. People always said I was born to be a salesman. I quickly got into the party life and became seriously addicted to speed (amphetamines). I ate them like candy and smoked a lot of dope for the most part. This life style led to some obvious problems. By the time I was 22, I was married and had no idea of what priorities should be in my life. Drugs were #1 and the rest I just took as it came. We developed many financial and marital problems consequently.
Yes my entire fault you say, well hang on. I became a very angry person at about everything. One day I went on a job interview at John Hancock Life Insurance - I know - the perfect business for someone in my frame of mind, right? Well the branch manager interviewing me asks a question that for some reason infuriated me. He said, "If you could have three wishes that would be granted, but only three, what would they be?" Now I'm thinking...what a stupid question for a job interview. So just really mad in general without thinking, just in anger I said, "I only need one wish." So he said, "what would that be?" I replied, "to walk and talk with Jesus Christ himself, I have some questions for him." It set the guy back a little and he said, "It sounds like you have had a rough time of things." I thought...that's mildly stated, but as a matter of fact, yes. He also said I sounded like a rebel but that wasn't all bad. I never heard back from him again. If I knew who he was today, I would thank him.
What I found out much later was that not only was Jesus listening, He took it as a request. He didn't come floating down from the sky or anything like that so don't panic. I would also find out that Jesus wanted to walk and talk with me. Is that a kick or what?
I am afraid nothing good took place right away. In fact I developed some health problems and was told I only had ten years to live with treatment. For the curious, I had had a rather large whole in my kidney undetected for long enough that my body had already poisoned itself to the point it was guaranteed to be fatal. Well the surgery and treatment was more than I wanted to risk. The doctors gave me a 50/50 chance of surviving the surgery, so I walked out untreated.
When I got home my wife asked what were they going to do. I laid the deal out for her and of course, she thought I should follow the doctor's advice. I didn't think so. After a small argument I told her what they say will happen, won't. I don't know why I feel this way but God has something He wants me to do and I am not going to die - I will be fine.
Three years of massive pain and hardship went by without medical attention. It was real slow so I didn't notice what was happening but I was totally healed and had it confirmed at the hospital. For the sake of space many details have been left out, but keep in mind, I hadn't had that walk with Jesus yet. In fact, by the criteria most pastors would put on you, I wasn't even what they would call saved yet and my wife wasn't any closer than I was. So how did an unsaved man get a complete divine healing from Jesus? Ask your local pastor that question and then e-mail me and I will tell you from experience.
Back to the story - things happened and I was broken - there is no other way to put it. After about 45 minutes of bawling like a baby, I finally cried out to God. Now don't do this part (making demands of God); it was a disrespectful mistake. I cried out and said, "You show me You're real once and for all and I'll serve You the rest of my life. If You don't show me I'll never ask or worry about it again." So, nothing happened.
Then the next day as I was getting ready for work a very stern voice inside of me said "DON'T BE AFRAID." At first I was excited but then I thought about what he said, "don't be afraid." I would like to say I just ran with it, but the fact is, I started wondering...don't be afraid of what? Well life really started to fall apart each day. It pretty much got worse, and every day the voice was back saying the same thing every time, "you gonna serve me now?" I said, "yes Lord" not always in a pleasant manner. Anyway, we lost everything we owned twice and many other problems along the way, but in a little over a year you couldn't tell that anything had happened. When it was over it was over.
All the while my prayer life got more intense. I was able to ask about stuff and actually get an answer. There were and are times it is conversation just like you would have with anyone. Through the conversations, I realized or He made me realize that He was always walking with me; the problem was I wasn't walking with Him. How simple is that? Now I'm not one of those judgmental-shove-it-down-your- throat-types. I just thought you might like to know that Jesus wants you bad enough...you just have to ask. I now know each time there was supernatural intervention in my life, I've had to take a hard look at it. When you realize just how much the Father and Son love you, it will blow you away.
Let's look at what happened. Remember the three wishes? I wanted to walk and talk with Jesus. When I said that, I didn't realize it was possible. He took me up on it. The Bible says "he who seeks finds" (Luke 11:10). Got that one right didn't they?!
The Bible also says things like "he is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6) Funny how it doesn't base anything on church attendance; I never went back to church until years after all this had happened. I will say fellowship with others that are seeking and that have gotten some stability in Christ is important. The other key here is the bible states, "my people shall perish for a lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6). You need to know the whole deal, but if you don't get serious asking, you won't find out. The church I grew up in missed that part.
May God Bless You and Yours
William M. Mendenhall
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