Background and TestimonyI was raised in The Church of Christ and we religiously attended church 3 times a week, studied the bible in Sunday school, and prayed over every meal. At the young age of 8, I sincerely accepted Jesus as my savior and was baptized, but was quickly discouraged. That night, after being baptized, the other kids came up to me and wanted to play, and the adults congratulated my parents and slapped me on the back, said well done and told me to go play, then left. .
I’ll never forget the thought of, “is that all there is to it?” All too soon, I learned that the “Christian life”, (as presented by the church), was lacking something and I couldn’t live out in practice very well what I thought God wanted me to. As I grew into a young man, I followed my own ways more and more, and not wanting to be a hypocrite, quit going to church.
Never finishing college, I got married, went into the military, got a broken heart because of an adulterous wife, and spiraled down to a life of rebellion and self servitude. In 1975, the spirit of The Lord brought me to my knees and I knew He was real! I could actually see into the spiritual realm and saw a spiritual battle waging war all around me and I knew I needed Jesus to save me for real! I became a true Jesus freak! In my zeal, I proclaimed how “I” found The Lord” (ha), and preached to everyone, including my old church, about how God’s spirit is alive and still working today! They were not receptive to that revelation and before long, kicked me out!
Now I was certainly young in the Lord, and hungering for more and more knowledge of God, I listened to many, many tapes and teachings. I would read the bible, but would mostly look to the “pentecostal or charismatic” teachers. I found myself caught up in one of the charismatic churches that proclaimed some bad teachings and “doctrines”, and when I got close to the internal functions of the church (business and daily workings of the leadership), I saw a lot of the heresy that has permeated “the church” today. When that leadership fell because of sin, along with several personal struggles and failures in my life, business and family, and not being well grounded in GOD’S truth, I was crushed and spiritually wounded. I was filled with confusion, anger, inner guilt and disappointments. Again I spiraled down to a life of rebellion and eventually screwed up my second marriage. Alcohol, drugs, sex, you name it, I was into it.
Over the next decade and a half, I was a miserable soul! Tortured by the knowledge of the reality of God and yet not fellowshipping with Him, I struggled with trying to put my life in order to the best of my ability. Disappointments and hurts, failed marriages and unfulfilled expectations that were prevalent in my life eventually gave way to a form of stability and success. I married again; Janie was a good woman with 3 children she had raised on her own; two girls and a boy and all young adults. They graciously accepted me into the family and I soon found the pleasures of being looked at as a father figure and before too long a grandfather! Life was good at last. We considered ourselves Christians, but just didn’t go to church or get too carried away with it.
Time passed until once again, life dealt harshly with us with the loss of our business and after another horrific and tragic event that I won’t get into detail about now, I knew the emotional turmoil and devastation was far more than I could handle on my own. I cried out to God and in His grace and mercy, He answered me! I guess it took that much for me to finally surrender ALL and be still before Him. Janie, on the other hand, was embittered and even openly against God and wanted no part of anything that included Him, even me if that’s who I wanted to follow.
The next five or six years were filled with open hostility on the home front and downright persecution. I kept pleading for God to intervene on my behalf and make Janie change. Each request was answered by an instruction for ME to change and surrender another part of myself and leave Janie to Him. I can truly testify of going “through the valley”, but God was with me and my relationship with Him deepened.
You know, the bible says that bitterness will rot your bones and I actually saw that happen to Janie. As time went on, and Janie’s health deteriorated, she rebelled so hard against the gentle prodding of God’s spirit, while the more I surrendered myself to Him, He revealed more and more of Himself to me. Prayer that typically revolved around helping me, changed to one of praying FOR her. I believe God allowed me to once again see into the spiritual realm and witness the warfare taking place, not only in Janie, but inside of me too. I saw the battle, not as a Rocky Balboa type fight where good finally or barely triumphs in the last moment, but as the truths in God’s word standing firm against all lies and efforts of the enemy to change it. The truth is the truth and it can’t be changed! What a revelation!
Janie began to show signs of listening to God’s call and one glorious day, surrendered to the love of God in Christ Jesus! Bitterness was traded for forgiveness and rebellion traded for surrender. What a transformation and what a joy! She was so energetic and eager to share with the kids and grandkids and for several months we all enjoyed going to church together. On September 24, 2008, Janie went home to be with The Lord.
I have agonized over this writing (it’s taken me all day). The mental and emotional strain has been intense, and I have tried to condense everything to keep it reasonable in size but it’s still lengthy. I would like to conclude by letting you know I have so much more to learn and although I’m not where I want to be in the Lord, I’m not where I once was and the work that The Lord began in me (and now I pray in you), He will complete! Praise God for He IS worthy!