I was raised in a pseudo-“Christian”/Pagan home. My parents divorced when I was 8 years old (and I did not see my Father again until many years later, and the Lord healed our relationship in a wonderful way just months before he died), dad being the third marriage mom had by the age of 22. After the divorce, my mother began going ‘out’. She became a drunk and was prone, even when sober, to beating the living daylights out of me, because she could, I guess. Her moods flipped all over the place. We sometimes had my grandmother living with us, who became the one who taught me about “home” and how to do stuff. They had a very rocky and contentious relationship…my mom rebelling against any good advice my grandmother gave her, and doing whatever she pleased and treating my grandmother like garbage, while my grandmother did everything for her. Mom had to have her own way, and so she had 9 marriages before she finally stopped marrying and then became altogether anti-social, choosing to finally live alone…no real friends, hoarding “treasures” she found at Goodwill, almost starving herself to death because she forgot to eat, losing her medications all over the place and not allowing anyone in to help except a neighbor, an occasional social worker and sometimes me. Blessedly she is now living in a home for Alzheimer/Dementia folks, close to me so I can see her at least weekly (I love my mom, regardless of the history. And I know that even in all of it, she loves me, too, she was just broken). It wasn’t Ozzie and Harriet by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m grateful for all of it….I learned a lot of how I DIDN”T want to be from watching my mom, and a lot of HOW to be from my grandmother. Although I have to say that I love them both very much. God placed me in just the right family for His ultimate purposes, and I truly wouldn’t change a thing. Ooops, getting ahead of myself….
In High School I went to a youth group at a friend’s church and thought that I had “accepted” the Lord. Unfortunately, I believed that all I had to do was repeat the “sinner’s prayer” (like a magic formula, right?) and I’d be good to go. My mother absolutely hated the fact that I would have anything to do with “Christians”…or Christ. So things around the house grew from bad to worse.
So, did repeating a prayer grant me salvation? Nope. Doesn’t work that way. I said “the prayer” and went on living pretty much like I always had. I did ‘religious’ stuff, and I thought about the Lord, but I never repented really or surrendered. Yet, there was physical evidence that the Enemy of our souls did not want to possibly let go of me. I came face to face with him in the nursery of a Lutheran Church where we held a Saturday Night “One Way” coffee house. It was frightening and at the same time I actually saw Jesus. For a while I was reading my Bible, but that kinda faded away with the intensity of the memory of that encounter. (And whenever I wonder how the Jews could forget all that God had done for them…I remember how I forgot….)
I subsequently moved out of my mom’s house (she was almost into her 8th of 9 marriages), as she had come home from her “fiance’s” drunk and had been trying to take a whack (or two….) at me with some firewood she picked up by the fireplace, and I decided to take my chances living at a friend’s mom’s house. Since I could not live outside the home and attend school, I left and stayed at a good friend’s house, sleeping on their couch. His mother was a bit like mine, although not violent. Turns out that she was a drunk as well…ooops. Got a job in a phone room and moved into a studio apartment.
A few years later, I went on to marry the guy I had been going with off and on for 7 years (Living in completely ongoing fornication before marriage, although he was raised in the church, neither one of us thought anything of it), and that lasted for 9 more years. We were involved in church…we knew the talk, so to speak, but not so much the walk. We made our living in secular music in a very secular world. We divorced as the best of friends, and remained so until his death in 1999. (*More on that later.)
I soon remarried to a guy that had also had church exposure, but was raised in a pseudo-“Christian”/Pagan home also, where he was allowed to do pretty much what he pleased, as long as he was “happy”. Needless to say, we both plunged headlong into Astrology, Reflection Casting, New Age and Pagan Worldview and practices, although I leaned toward that stuff before I met him. We both had a lot of problems. One was, that I did not really know him. I married way too quickly. I thought I knew him, but it later, ultimately, came out that I did not. He lied just about as much as he took a breath, both in what he told me and in what he chose to leave out or how he reframed things to blur the details. And, not surprisingly (well, it was to me, but…) He struggled with many sin addictions, and had a lot to work through. That has taken a good 12 years, and the scars are ones I will carry for a long time, and which are still tender at times. (Although I am sure he will carry some from me, from my not so holy reactions to his ‘stuff’.)
Well, we both thought we believed in God…and we did….it was just that it wasn’t GOD, it was a god we each had totally made up…a dead god. A pagan god. A “New Age” god….the great Imposter. Truth be told, who I was worshipping was Satan.
In 1999, on New Year’s Eve, my *dear friend was on his way home from a gig and was hit from behind by a drunk driver and was brain dead on the spot. This is how the Lord brought me to Him.
My friend (my former husband) had struggled with agoraphobia for years, and also had high blood pressure (even though he was not that old) from taking his anti-anxiety meds and drinking. He was so afraid that he would have a stroke and be “stuck” inside his own head (which never seemed to turn off)….and when I was told about his death, all I could see at that moment was God’s mercy to a complete prodigal.
God’s mercy! To a man that anyone would say probably didn’t really know Him at all.
It was seeing God’s mercy toward him…turning his brain off instantly so he didn’t have to experience the panic and fear that would have been involved for him in that circumstance….that “GOT” me.
I dug out my old Ryrie Study Bible that he had given me for my 25th birthday, and read his inscription to me:
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled”. ~Matthew 5:6
God was speaking to me. One night, not too long after, I had a “dream”. Have you ever had a dream that is not a dream? Well…I have, and this was one of those. Satan would not let me go. I was face to face with him. Again. I tried to call out to God, but could not get His name out. I forced, and forced, and finally I got out Gaawwd! All the while there was this high pitched screamie-whine in my ears….getting louder and louder, and louder.
I told God I couldn’t remember what to do….and the song Holy, Holy, Holy came to mind just loud enough for me to hear. I started singing Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty (in my mind)……while the whine inside my ears got louder and louder. I really thought my eardrums would explode. I said out-loud (again, in my mind)…”I don’t care what you do to me! I don’t care if I never hear again! I don’t care if you kill me! You cannot have me, I belong to Jesus!! there was a HUGE noise, and I woke up.
I went into the bathroom because it felt like my ears were bleeding and my hearing was really muffled. No blood! I was stunned. BUT…..I realized that after proclaiming myself to be a Christian and then giving myself over to the Devil, I had to fight through my repentance and for my freedom….I had to see who I had willingly given myself over to, and I had to really mean it and know that I meant it. But…HE helped me through it. What an amazingly gracious God we have…merciful, even as He brings conviction of sin.
I thanked the Lord and told Him how incredibly sorry I was for being so rebellious, and willful, and sinful, and traitorous, and for worshiping the Enemy and not Him, and asked Him to please forgive me. I told Him all I wanted was Jesus, and He could have my whole life, no matter what all that would entail. (I had no idea what I was really saying or what all that would entail, but I meant it and I mean it still, even with a deeper view of how difficult it may be as He grows me and teaches me about Himself and my disobedient heart.)
He forgave me! How awesome!!! I am SO blessed by His grace and strength to me. He’s changed me without me even knowing that He was doing it….it amazes me. I’m not the same person I was before Him. I have a long way to go, but still…He has brought me so far from who and what I was. And as He did it, I had no clue til hindsight. Wow. Now I barely recognize “her”…who I was before He grabbed me for real. I don’t even like any of the same things…so very strange, but so very wonderful.
So, I’ve been walking with and following my Lord Jesus since 2000. My husband now says that he is following Christ. I keep praying his claim of Christ is genuine. There seems to be a man-centered “gospel” at work there somewhere, a mental assent and ability to grasp what theologians have said and repeat their words, more often a form of godliness with no power….not really a biblical one, not really a new creation kind of regeneration. (And his relating of his “testimony” has changed at least a couple of times, including when he was “saved”.) It worries me. A lot. But since he says he is saved, thinks that he is saved and rejects any encouragement to really search himself against the word of God, I must treat him as though he is, and to respectfully but scripturally exhort him in what that entails when it’s absolutely needed, and more than that…I’m commanded by God to live as a wife a certain way (think Ephesians, etc)….but mostly to win him without a word with my pure and chaste behavior. I have a lot of words…it’s really hard to keep them contained sometimes and I’m working hard on that, prayers appreciated.
God can do anything, and I have to leave it to Him, all I can do anything about is me. And that’s more than enough to deal with on any given day. Yet, I still continue to pray for his genuine repentance and true salvation because scripturally, it doesn’t seem to be really there (if you remember, please pray for him, too)….I know that nothing is too hard for God! May He draw him soundly to Himself in genuine repentance and submission to Christ as LORD…the Most High Holy God….the Biblical GOD….The only One worth everything! It has to be HIM drawing a person to Christ, not any other way. Rebirth comes only through HIS initiation and our surrender. Any other way is climbing over the fence and not going through the gate. And sadly, those who do are eventually shown by the light of the word of God, even though they themselves cannot see that most of the time. And no amount of talking can make a dead person get up. Just pray, please. Nuff said.
And so, in closing…I have surrendered to Christ….and that’s a far cry from “accepting” Him, like He’s a beggar pleading for our “acceptance”….and I am following Him, looking to Him, and whether our “issues” in our marriage ever are over or not, as far as I can from my own side, I will stand…together with Jesus, with the Bible as my only guide and standard, stumbling through the rough patches, and clinging to the cross. And learning to thank HIM for allowing this to sloooowly (way too) mold me into the image of Christ, for His glory. He allows everything for our good and for His glory, and this is no different, just a hard learned and slow kind of growth, that I am just beginning to get the proper focus on. I’m seeking first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness….I know that the battle has already been won…God will always prevail, no matter what! The truth is that HE is my Husband, and He is faithful! And I am His for the long haul into eternity in heaven. His Bride. Thank You Lord Jesus. Thank You. ♥
I am so grateful for the gift of repentance and the grace of my Lord Jesus Christ. His love is so magnificent that there are no words to describe it. And His grace is something that is too big to ever really put words to.
I recently realized that in His mercy to my dear friend, He was actually also giving His mercy to ME. SHOWING me His mercy. He did that for me! When He did it, He removed an idol in my life, and gave a merciful death to a loved one who no doubt experienced the last merciful act that God would give him, as he was not saved, to my knowledge. I pray to be surprised, but I fear I will not be. Only time will tell.
And…in 2008, my Doctor checked my hearing and asked me if I knew how I had damaged my left ear, because it showed some damage. I thought…really? What could have happened to my ear to damage it? Uh…DUH!! I have been left with the blessing of a constant reminder of where I have been and what I was forgiven and rescued of. Thank You Lord!
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled”. ~Matthew 5:6
HE has given me that hunger and thirst, and HE will fill it to the fullest as I walk in obedience from love to Him. May I never feel like I have enough! And may I never compromise my Lord or His word. No matter what….I could never live without Him again. Yes, I still sin, and yes, I still have to work through my fleshy heart more times than I can count, but you know what? THAT is how I know that I am His forever….I want to obey Him, and die to self and glorify Him, and that would never be without His intervention in my heart and mind and soul. On my own, I’m nothing more than a depraved wretch of a gal who only lives for herself. Oh what grace He has shown in snatching me from the fire and patiently scraping out the “ick” that is in me, to make me more like Him. I was once a total enemy of God, serving the one who rebelled and hates Him, and now He has given me His righteousness, and a heart that hates what I once loved. Amazing. Just AMAZING!
(Yep, this is the short version of my testimony…..Aren’t ya glad I didn’t write the long version?)
For those whom He intends to save, God does not merely outwardly SHOW them the truth. In love, He circumcises their heart and changes it from stone to flesh (Deut 30:6; Ezek 36:26; John 6:63). In mercy, He disarms any and all opposition and they most willingly believe.