This is my testimony of the Lord's goodness to me, enabling me to go on through hard times. I know if it wasn't for Him I wouldn't have been the joy I do in life.
In Dec. 1992 my wife was arrested for the murder of our nine month old daughter, Natasha, which I was told she was responsible for. The alleged crime was initially treated as S.I.D.S.Our daughter died a year and a half earlier, so I didn't know WHAT to believe.
So in just a period of two weeks I lost my family, our three year old daughter Jennifer was adopted out to my cousin in November then my wife was arrested Dec 7th.
It was a very dark time in my life and I wasn't sure how I was going to go on. I was fired from my job on the day of my wife's arrest in a town with very little future in it.
However, the Lord took care of me.
I found work just about the time my money ran out, and I was able to visit my wife over the years. The Lord has given me many times the grace and sense of humor to keep on through this. I can't pretend it's easy. There are guards at the prison who take great pleasure in causing as much pain as possible in the inmates AND their families who visit...emotional or otherwise. I've had to daily seek Him for forgiveness for my attitude towards them.
One of our friends died of cancer because the guards ignored her pleas to see a doctor. She was in tremendous pain. When her family threatened to sue they relented, but by then her cancer had spread throughout her body, and she died the month of her release from prison. There have been others who died of neglect.
I've learned how very much like us the prison population is, although the darkness in some guards and some inmates can still shock me, after ten years of week-end visits. I have to wonder if given the right set of circumstances I'd allow that much hate or evil to rule my life? Without Christ, would I be any different? Maybe I'd just be a more polite killer? Killing in my heart every single day.
Without Christ in my life, I know I'd be capable of anything. He has given me a lot of joy and laughter, and hope. We can still laugh at ourselves, my wife and I still have peace. She has changed a GREAT deal over the years because of Him in her life!
When I was a young girl I was raised in a Christian Science home. Every week my parents sent my younger sister and me to the Christian Science Sunday school. The church was within a short walk from the apartment building where we resided. My parents never attended church services, but they would send us by ourselves each week.
I consistently asked both of my parents to start accompanying us to church, instead of sending us to Sunday school by ourselves. They finally consented then the four of us starting attending regularly each week. My parents sat upstairs for the Sunday services, while us girls attended Sunday school downstairs.
We eventually moved from our apartment building and relocated to another city and in so doing I had to transfer to another public school. We started attending another Christian Science Church and eventually my father was elected as the first reader. Attending church regularly was so ingrained in me that it became a regular part of my daily spiritual life. A major teaching of Christian Science is that we were instructed to read our daily lessons each week. My father always asked me if I read the lesson for that day, and I always told him that I did. I lied every time he asked me because I couldn't understand the doctrines contained in the Science and Health. I would always seem to get into a verbal disagreement with many of my Sunday school teachers when it concerned Mary Baker Eddy's interpretation of the bible and the Science and Health in general.
After graduation from high school, I started on my two-year associates degree program through a local community college. After classes I worked part time behind the service desk at the YWCA, and this is where I met my future husband. Before we were married he attended the Christian Science Church with me. He was raised in the Methodist Church whereas the teachings of Christian Science were so very foreign to him. My father wanted me to graduate from college, but I dropped out after completing one year, and ended of getting married instead.
During the period of our engagement I asked a girlfriend who her minister was. We wanted to be married in some church, but didn't have any idea who would perform the marriage ceremony. Christian Science Churches don't have ordained clergy; they only have laity who are elected as first and second readers.
We contacted this minister by telephone and he asked both of us if we would consent to some marriage counseling sessions with him. Both of us agreed and we met with him each week in his office that he had in his home. He asked both of us if we had a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and we told him that we didn't.
The minister would not marry a believer to an unbeliever. In the counseling session, he started telling us about Jesus. But the both of us were not interested in any type of religion and we nicely told him so. He didn't bring up the subject of Jesus again, but he and his wife started praying for the both of us.
After we were married we still attended the Christian Science Church, but not on a regular basis. I wasn't any longer under the jurisdiction of my parents, so my husband and I sporadically attended the Christian Science Sunday services. Four years into our marriage, our son was born. When he was a tiny infant he became very ill and we knew that something was very wrong with him. He was lying in his crib, and he constantly cried and drew his little legs up to his chest in pain.
Since we were both young and inexperienced parents, we decided to call my father on the telephone and perhaps he could give us some wise counsel. My father responded and said that he would call a Christian Science Practitioner for us. Well, my husband nearly hit the roof in anger and he slammed down the telephone. He knew that our baby needed immediate medical attention.
We knew of a family just a few houses away from us that lost a daughter through death because they both trusted a Christian Science Practitioner to heal her. We weren't about to follow in those same footsteps of that family whose daughter that died.
My husband called the State Police and gave them the description of our car and the license plate number and he told them that he had to quickly rush our baby to the hospital. He didn't want the police to detain us when we had a medical emergency. We arrived at the hospital and the doctor in charge admitted him, and wanted to keep him overnight for observation. We both stayed at the hospital with our son for quite a long time until we were told to go home for the night because there wasn't anything else we could do. Both of us were so very heart broken to have to leave our little son in the hospital over night.
The following morning we arrived at the hospital and the doctor told us that he would release him so we could take him home with us. He had gastritis which is an inflammation of the stomach lining and if left untreated, could be fatal to an infant. I'm so very grateful that we used good common sense and took our son to the hospital, than to leave him in the hands of a Christian Science Practitioner.
My husband and I had to come to some decision about rearing our child in some religious faith. We decided to call the minister who performed our marriage ceremony. We talked to him over the telephone and he told us where the church was located and the times of the services. So we attended the Sunday morning service at the Community Church. The pastor and his wife asked us if they could stop by and visit us. We noticed that both of them were very friendly and open to us and they shared with us a lot of information about the church.
Again we attended Sunday morning services the very next week and the both of us listened attentively to the pastor's sermon. His message was about the love of Christ and he explained the gospel in such simple terms that a small child could even understand. He explained the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ. And what I had to do was acknowledge that I was a sinner and that Jesus Christ had shed his precious blood on the cross for my sins. All I had to do was to make a rational decision and accept what Jesus Christ had already done for me on the cross.
The pastor gave an invitation to those who wanted to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, and asked those people to make a public profession of their faith and to walk forward in the church. The last hymn of the morning service was, "Just as I am without one Plea." I stood there singing the hymn and I felt two hands on my back giving me a little nudge. I turned around to see who was pushing me and no one was behind me, I then turned around and continued to sing the hymn. Again I felt two hands nudging me to go forward and now I know that it was God's Holy Spirit beginning to work in my life.
I walked forward and made a public profession of my faith, and the pastor's wife accompanied me to a room and she led me in the sinner's prayer. I came to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in December 1971, when our son was three months old. And my husband saw such a miraculous change in my life when I started to read the bible and apply its truths in my life. that he too came to faith in January 1972. Since coming to faith my life has never been the same.
Christian Science could never fill the void in my heart the way the Lord Jesus Christ has filled it. Some of the teachings of Christian Science are that we can heal ourselves by denying the reality of sickness. They also teach that sin and death are also unreal. If we don't receive a healing in Christian Science, it's because we haven't applied its teachings correctly and we are to try harder in understanding the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy.
Christian Science does not heal, because I've never been healed all of the years when I was a practicing Christian Scientist. I have medical problems today that I am learning to deal with, but I'd rather have a spiritual healing in my life than a physical healing. I have the assuredness that when I pass from life unto death I will be in the presence of the Lord.
We are grateful that the Lord Jesus Christ allowed us to raise our son from infancy in a bible believing church. Today our son is a Soldier in the U. S. Army and serves on active duty. He's also an ordained minister, and his future goal is to become an Army Chaplain one day.
I John 1:5-10 ~ This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. NIV
As a journal-keeper long before "journaling" became a verb, I created a checklist soon after my college graduation. Some of the points had to do with improving my appearance, some with long-range career goals, some with starting a family, some with books I meant to read. I remember three of these goals specifically: "Join Mensa," "Join N.O.W.," "Decide what I believe about God."
A couple of years passed. I was now married, we'd bought a home, I had a job involving my favorite thing -- books -- and I was in leadership in my nominal Protestant church. We took vacations, too, and in the summer of 1976 my husband and I loaded up our Chevy Vega and headed to the South.
We saw Civil War sites, ate grits and hushpuppies, and I believe it was in Murfreesboro, TN that my husband needed a new pair of tennis shoes. Yes, my memory of the trip is rather spotty. But one leg of it would change my life. In the state of Mississippi, we drove through a tiny town whose narrow roads were edged by weed-filled ditches. And in those ditches stood cabin after cabin -- crooked, crumbling sheds with peeling paint and torn screens. A few listless men, youths, kids, sat on sagging porches, watching expressionless as we drove past. I can only wonder what bug-eyed, drop-jawed faces they saw gawking at them. We later learned this town's unemployment rate was 100%.
For months afterward I cried out to God. Why was I born in a land of prosperous farms and vigorous industry? Why did I show talent in almost any field I set my hand to (except sports)? Why was I raised in a middle-class home with a mother who served us in every way and a father who told me, a pre-feminist-era daughter, that I could be anything I
wanted? Why did I have a college education, without so much as the smallest loan to repay? Why had I managed to avoid the if-it-feels-good-do-it promiscuity, the "tune in, turn on, drop out" drug experimentation that had snared so many of my generation? Why had I never been a victim of crime or abuse? Why was I healthy? In short, why did I have it so good? I began to feel undeserving, and to give thanks.
Shortly after this trip, if I were to start my family on schedule, I would have to become pregnant. And for the first time, something important failed to just fall into my lap. It didn't happen. I started crying "Why?" again -- and I must admit that "thanks" went by the wayside for a while -- but now I also began to cry "Please." In less than a year, after seldom if ever before addressing God, I had called, "Why?" "Thanks," and "Please." I had never doubted his existence, because it seemed irrational to me that the intricate organization of something as large as the universe and something as small as an atom -- not to mention the human body -- had arisen by chance. It was just too preposterous to think that God was not behind this. And as a mathematics major, I realized that the statistical chances of complex life arising from random chemical reactions were zero. About this same time Jimmy Carter was elected president and I heard the term "born again" for the first time. But I had no idea what this meant and soon forgot it.
Six months after I had intended to conceive I finally did. I truly believe this was God's early demonstration to me that I was not in control. To have a baby in November when you meant to have it in May is to give birth as far away from your planned time as possible. The birth of my first son brought me into a group of young mothers, and here was
where I met my first Christian -- up close and personal. She was a type of person I honestly did not know existed. On the one hand, she was a completely committed Christian. On the other hand, she was utterly normal. Not a fake, not a kook, not holier-than-thou, not living in a bubble, not condemning, not preaching, yet never covering up her faith.
She became my friend. And I began to ask a new question: "God, what is the truth about you?"
The Bible teaches in Matthew 7:7 that if we seek we will find, and David tells his son Solomon in I Chronicles 28:9, "If you seek [the Lord] he will be found by you." God is faithful to his word, and because I had asked it wasn't long before God revealed to me Truth. Truth was a person, and his name was Jesus Christ.
But there was still something missing. I only knew of the Savior. In order to know him personally, I had to learn the truth about someone else: myself. "For all have sinned," says Romans 3:23, "and fall short of the glory of God." Well, logically "all" had to include me. And what was the fate of sinners? "All sinners will be destroyed," says Psalm 37:38. Again, "all" had to include me -- but I'd been given a reprieve. "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners," Paul writes to Timothy. If I went to the cross, repented of my sin, accepted that Jesus had taken the death penalty in my place and asked for his shed blood to cleanse me, I would be saved. This ran far deeper than mental assent,
than knowing about the Savior. In John 6:44 Jesus says, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him." I could not become a Christian just by intellectual exercise, or even religious exercise. So draw me the Father did, on June 2, 1979, while I was at my writing desk rereading the previous day's work. In his sovereign timing the Holy Spirit fell upon me with conviction, and I saw those words, those ideas, that attitude for what they were: sin. Garbage. Idle words. Filthy rags.
Suddenly sick of myself, my ambitions, my pride, and my "wisdom" that wasn't even as wise as God's "foolishness" (I Cor. 1:25), I asked Christ to forgive me, change me, and take over my life. Without him, I would never have any success other than that which the fickle, fleeting world had to offer. I would not realize that I was wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked (Revelation 3:17). Apart from him I could do nothing (John 15:5).
What if I had not become a Christian that day? Although I can't be sure, I believe my circumstantial life might be about the same. Marriage, home, kids, and my professional life which includes writing, editing and teaching. But who would I be today, without Jesus? A feminist, a secular humanist, possibly deceived by a false worldview or doctrine?
Competitive, conniving, carping, a believer in fate, all because I thought I was the only one in charge of my life in an impersonal universe? Sarcastic, sardonic, fearful and bitter, because I would have carried unbelief to its logical conclusion, that randomly occurring life in an impersonal universe is really of no importance? I don't want to know who I might have become. And, hallelujah; I've never had to find out.
Belief in God is a matter of faith, but it is not a matter of faith beyond reason. Romans 1 tells us that God has revealed himself so clearly in creation that if we can look around at our world and not believe in him we are without excuse. Many say they do not believe in hell, but consider: God, who not only is the source of all love but is love, sent his son, a full member of the Godhead, to die a horrendous death as our Savior. If there is no hell, there's nothing to be saved from, and there's no need for a Savior. Christ's death then becomes useless, God becomes a monster, and Christianity completely falls apart.
Many say Jesus was a great teacher, not God, but consider: There are many places in the four gospels where he clearly states his divinity. If he's not God, he's either a liar or he's deluded. What kind of great teacher is that? We must decide whether Jesus is God or fraud. There is no middle ground, nor did Jesus, as C.S. Lewis points out, intend to leave that possibility open. Many say they live life only according to what they know, not according to faith, but consider: Those who can look at creation and say there's no God are trusting he doesn't exist. Those who believe the complexity of human, animal, and plant life could have arisen from just the right random collision of molecules just happening to occur over and over again are living by faith. Those who walk across a room and flip a light switch have faith that the light will come on. Everyone lives by faith. The only question you must settle is: In what or whom will you place your faith?
I never got around to joining Mensa or N.O.W., but I did decide what I believe about God. He is the great I AM, Jesus Christ is the fully divine and fully human Messiah of God, and the Holy Spirit is the Comforter who has come down to us, a deposit guaranteeing our future with God. The books of Isaiah, Romans, and Philippians all tell us that one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. "Every" means "all," whether they be headed for heaven or hell. If you have not yet bowed to Jesus, the day is coming when you will. Choose him now, while you still have your earthly life and mercy is still extended to you. If you die outside of Christ, you will meet him as judge, and you will bow the knee -- before you go off to eternal destruction.
Repent, receive the forgiveness God longs to extend to you, and come into the family of God. The Bible says angels will rejoice over you, and so will all your new brothers and sisters. We love you. Today is the day of salvation. Come while it is yet today.