That if you will confess with your mouth
the Lord Jesus, and will believe in your
heart that God has raised Him from the
dead, you will be saved. Rom. 10:9
You know, sometimes when I hear people give their testimonies about how they were raised in the church, and accepted Jesus as their Savior at the age of 7 or 8, and how their parents were good, devout Christians who helped them learn to love the Lord with all their heart, I still feel a tiny tinge of regret, that my testimony couldn't be like that; or perhaps, that my life couldn't have been like that.
Unfortunately, I was not raised in a good Christian home. My earliest years were happy enough, I guess, but they were too quickly erased by the circumstances in our home. Growing up in an alcoholic family situation does not make for a lot of tender memories. In fact, life with an alcoholic is traumatic enough that there are support groups all over the place trying to help people like me overcome their childhood experiences. (I'm here to tell you, though, that God can and will overcome whatever circumstances you may have had in your life---- but I'm getting ahead of myself here.)
I did have one thing to be thankful for, and that was my grandparents. They were wonderful Christian witnesses to me and to all of us. I stayed with them as long as I could every summer, and that was just about the only time I ever went to church. With them, it wasn't an option, it was mandatory!
I ran away from home at a very early age, dropped out of school, and got into a lot of trouble. I'll spare everyone a detailed list of my sins, except to say that they were many and varied. (I later went back to night school, and got my High-school equivalency; then many years later, went to nursing school to become an LPN. Just a few years ago, I went back to college to get my degree in nursing, and am now a Registered Nurse.)
On one of my runaway attempts, a few weeks after my 15th birthday, I was badly injured in a terrible car accident, several hundred miles from home. I'm so very thankful now that I didn't die in that accident, in my unforgiven sinful state. I'm sorry to say that accident still didn't change my ways, and I continued along the same downhill path.
By the time most girls are graduating from high school, I had been married, divorced, and remarried. I had one baby, with another one on the way. My second child was born with a stomach defect---- he kept getting sicker and sicker, and I was so afraid he might die. I had been going to church with my sister-in-law, who had recently been saved, and I came to the Lord at that time.
I think part of my decision at that time was fear for my baby's life. (Just for the record, that "baby" is now 27 years old, thank God!) Isn't it strange that we can just ignore God for so many years, yet He's always the one we turn to during a terrible crisis? I've heard it said that "There are no atheists in foxholes", and I'm convinced of the truth of that saying.
Did I truly understand, at that point in my life, the commitment I was making to God? No, I can't say as I did. I was sincere, but I never thought about the Christian walk being a daily commitment to Christ, or that you have to die to your own selfish and sinful desires, and learn to live in obedience to the Lord. I really had no idea at that time of how to live a Christian life.
At that time, I thought that living a Christian life meant giving up all my sins, voluntarily changing my life, and turning over a new leaf. In others words, in my mind, I had to WORK at gaining and keeping my salvation. All these were things I thought I had to do; I didn't realize yet that salvation is based not on what we do, but on what Jesus did! (Thank you, Jesus!)
Naturally, I found I could not keep on being a "good " Christian---- because I was depending on my own power, instead of that of the Holy Spirit! All of our efforts to do right and live right are futile without the power of the Holy Spirit, because we are carnal, sinful creatures in the flesh. We have to live in the Spirit to be able to live a Christian life.
I'm here to tell you truthfully, my friend--- You WILL fail, just as I failed, if you rely on your own power to live a Christian life!
I fell away from church, as is often the case when we rely on a religion of works for our salvation. For the next several years I was in and out of various churches. I would take my children to church and Sunday School for a few months, or even a year or two, then I would gradually quit going for months at a time. It is a regret I live with constantly, that I didn't have my children in church every time the doors opened.
I promise you, friend, this is something you do not want to deal with later on in your life! Get your children in a good, Bible-teaching, Spirit-filled church right NOW! Later might be too late!
My spiritual life went on for several years in this fashion. I would fall away from the church for varying periods, and then would return, usually when faced with some crisis or another. That is how many of us are, I'm sorry to say, and it really saddens me, because now I realize how much I missed during those periods away from God. He has so many blessings in store for each and every one of His children, but we so often miss our blessings!
Eventually, following the most severe crisis in my life, I turned back to God for the last time, rededicating my life to Him. I was finally starting to see and understand His love for me, and His will for my life. As it turned out, only a couple of years after that, God proved the truth of all of His promises when I was diagnosed with a type of cancer in my right lung.
I had been sick with pneumonia for almost two months,which in fact turned out to be a blessing in disguise, for if it hadn't been for that, they never would have found the cancer as early as they did! The Bible tells us to praise God in ALL things, and this is a perfect example of why! Anyway, here I was, only 38 years old, and faced with a life-threatening disease, and yet the fellowship I had with the Lord at that time was wonderful!
My very first thoughts were "That's impossible--- I'm too young to die!" and "I don't want to have a lot of treatments that make me sick and make me go bald!". All the horror of cancer and it's treatments flashed in my mind. I thought about my husband, whose father had died from lung cancer at a very young age. I thought about my three children, who were 21, 19,and 16 at the time. The oldest had just gotten married the previous month. The other two were still at home. I thought about my mother, and how awful this was going to be for her. She had been through so many near tragedies with her five kids, and now this.....
Almost immediately, though, a sense of peace filled me, and I felt God's presence in the most powerful way I've ever felt it, before or since. The Bible speaks of the peace of God that surpasses all human understanding, but that was the first time in my life I ever personally experienced such a thing. It's impossible to describe, because it goes beyond anything logical or sensible, but I'm here to tell you it IS a very, very real thing!
It actually seemed as if He were speaking to my heart, not in a physical voice I could hear, but I knew He was speaking to me, just the same, telling me over and over "It's alright. Everything will be fine.... just trust me." I just KNEW, somehow, that I was safe in His hands, and that no matter what happened, it truly would be fine, because God was in control. He could heal me if He chose, and that would be alright. I didn't WANT to die, but I knew that if I did, I would be with Him, so that was alright, too. I also didn't want to leave my children motherless, but God made it so very clear to my heart that as much as I loved my children, He loved them even more than I did, with a perfect, infallible love; He gave me the calm reassurance that even if He did take me away from my family, He would love them, watch over them, and take care of them.
Unbelievable??? I assure you, the peace of God can do all of that, and more! I KNOW, because it happened to ME!!!
The night before my scheduled surgery to remove part of my lung, my husband asked me, "Are you scared?". I didn't hesitate for one minute, answering him: No, I wasn't scared. In my human logic, I kept questioning myself: Why aren't I scared? I should be scared--- I might die! Am I in denial? Am I just refusing to face reality? In human understanding, it just did not make any sense that I felt at peace about such a serious threat to my life. But I could still feel God's presence, as if He were right there by my side, and He continued to reassure me that if I'd only trust Him, everything would be alright.
My surgery was successful--- the doctors were able to remove all of the cancer. I required neither chemotherapy nor radiation treatments, and have been cancer free for 8 years this past July, praise God! I can tell you truthfully, my life has never been the same! It is a fact that every time we demonstrate our trust and faith in our Lord, that faith grows stronger and stronger. He proves Himself to us each and every time we trust Him!
As a matter of fact, only one short year after the surgery to remove my cancerous lung, God showed me all He is able to do when we trust Him. He provided the opportunity for me and my daughter to go on a mission trip, and gave me the physical strength and stamina to do it. That's another whole testimony in itself, and was truly one of the greatest experiences in my life!
It is so very fortunate that God sees our innermost hearts, and knows what our earnest intentions really are. Although I stumbled and fell so many, many times during those early years, He never once took His hand away from me. No matter what I did, He kept bringing me back to Him, each time revealing a little more of His love to me, and making me understand a little bit more about my salvation, and His plan for my life. And in spite of my failures, God has brought two of my three children into the fold--- two of them have accepted Jesus as their Savior, praise God! I'm still earnestly praying and trusting God for my other child's salvation.
Do I still stumble in my Christian walk? Yes, sometimes. But as I put on the whole armor of God; as I learn to rely on the Holy Spirit to lead me, guide me, and keep me from sin; and as I grow to love God more and more, I find I stumble less and less. It's only when I take my eyes off Jesus, and try to rely on my own ability, that I slip and fall. However, I have God's assurance that He will never forsake me. I KNOW He is going to do what He says He will! I praise Him and thank Him so much, because He is always faithful and true, even when we are not.
Do I understand His will completely now? No, but I KNOW that each day He is preparing me, and He will reveal to me exactly what I need, when I need it. Things in my life aren't perfect, but I KNOW, because God told us in His Word, that everything is somehow going to work out for good, because I love the Lord. Once again, I have His promise!
My friend, I am living proof that God can take whatever's wrong in your life and make it right! And I can assure you that what God has done in MY life, He will also do in YOURS!
If you have never asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, please, please, PLEASE do it now! I promise you, you will NEVER regret it! I've heard many people say they wish they would have been saved sooner, but never in my whole entire life have I EVER heard ANYONE say they wished they had not been saved! Won't you come to Jesus right here, right now? Just eanestly and sincerely pray this prayer, right now:
Dear Heavenly Father,
I know I am a sinner and need forgiveness. I know you loved me so much you sent your only son, Jesus, to die on the cross to pay for my sin. I believe that Jesus, and only Jesus, can save me, and I ask Him to come into my heart and into my life right here, right now, to forgive my sins and save me, and to be the Lord of my life from now on. Thank you, Lord, for saving me! In Jesus' precious name I pray, AMEN
If you have prayed this prayer and invited Jesus into your life, please email me and let me know so that I can rejoice with you and for you!
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