Sunday, April 29, 2007

Part 2 - My Testimony or My Journey to Find God

(continued from previous post)
During the years we walked in rebellion to God, we had some good friends, Hans and Rosetta, who had also turned away from their Christian upbringing. Hans had a wild streak in him and he loved the nightclub scene. He begged us to go partying with them and so we did. Rosetta and I never got past the first drink, and I don’t think she was ever more comfortable in those places than I was.
After several nights spent at a Vancouver night club, Vic and I looked at each other one early morning on our way home and asked ourselves if we had really had a good time. The answer for both of us was no, and we never went again, and consequently lost touch with our friends.

Even though we had abandoned our belief in God, we still sent our daughter Romay to Sunday school. We wanted her to make up her own mind about what she believed. Every Sunday I took her to my aunt and uncle’s house, who were so kind to take her to church with them for years.. Their daughter was the same age as Romay so they grew up as sisters. What I didn’t know until years later was that Romay had accepted Jesus as her Saviour, and prayed for us to be Christians too.
“A little child shall lead them.”

I need to mention one detail… just to show how God will use whatever He can. One of my favourite TV shows was Battlestar Galactica . When I watched it... the struggle between good and evil… it always awoke in me a desire to believe that God was true after all.

In 1977 Vic began to have anxiety attacks that continually got worse, until in 1979 he could no longer go to work and was virtually house bound. He had always been a very independent person, who thought he needed no one – he could take care of himself and what was his. Now everything was crumbling at his feet – but that is his story.

I wanted Vic to go for help but he refused and didn’t want anyone to know what was happening to him. So I lived a double life… at work I pretended nothing was wrong, and then when I got home I had to try to deal with someone who clung to me –literally for dear life. I did not know what to do, and did not know how to help him. He would not allow me to talk to friends or family. The situation became unbearable.
Then one day I came home from work and Vic told me that he had been watching Pat Robertson on TV, and wanted me to see the program. I watched, and thought it was all show, the fancy stage, the pin striped suits and the begging for money.
A few days later, he told me that he had prayed and turned his life back to God.
I thought, “Well, whatever helps him. He’ll come to his senses when he no longer needs a crutch.”

Perhaps a week later, Hans and Rosetta called unexpectedly one night and asked us to come over. To our surprise they had come back to the Lord and wanted us to know about it, and listen to a tape they had. I sat and listened to the three of them talking but I really wasn’t interested.
The tape was of Dr. Richard Eby who had fallen to his death from a window, had been revived and lived to tell of his out of body experience. What caught my attention was the vision he had had of hell. He described his experience with such detail and sincere, emotional conviction that I believed him.
I began to wonder … If there was a hell, if there was evil… there must also be the opposite… A God and a heaven.
But I was afraid, afraid of embracing the struggle again of trying to live the Christian life and failing.

Vic would not leave me alone, he was constantly begging me to join him in his renewed faith in God, and I was getting more and more annoyed and resistant to his ‘nagging’.
Then one Friday morning I was doing some things around the house before I had to leave for work – I was working the late shift, 12:30 to 9:00 pm. Vic suddenly came to me and said that he had invited the pastor of the church we had both attended growing up, to come to our house. I was upset – I didn’t like the pastor , I thought he was a hypocrite, and I thought Vic had totally gone over the top in pressuring me- now he expected me to talk to a pastor?!

Everything just culminated that morning, all the stress and tension of the last two years were suddenly too much and I had to get out. I was already dressed for work and I grabbed my purse and car keys and left, ignoring Vic’s pleas for me not to go.

I headed for the freeway and wanted to just keep driving, not knowing where nor caring. I decided I wasn’t even going to show up for work. I would call them with some excuse. All I knew was that I wanted to put as much distance as I could between me and everything I had to deal with at home.
Just before I got to the exit I would normally take on my way to work, the car started acting up… it was over heating. Great!!
Not wanting to be stranded somewhere I decided I might as well go to the mall, where I worked at Eatons.

I felt such agony of soul and wanting some escape I did what I had always done all my life, I looked for a book. Entering the book store, instead of heading for the novels, I went to the spiritual section, thinking maybe there was something that would help me...
As I stared at the shelves, not really even seeing the titles, one book stood out to me. I reached out and took it from the shelf. My mind was racing, crying out with unanswered questions.
I absentminded flipped through the book in my hand, and a strange thing happened.
Every time a question cried out in my mind, the answer appeared on the page was looking at. It happened again and again, the question, the random flipping of pages, the answer appearing as my eyes focused on the words that stood out in bold relief.
I thought, this is too weird, I better buy this book.
The book? 'Something More' by Catherine Marshall. (Later when I wanted to reread the answers to my questions, no matter how hard I searched I could not find them anywhere in the book.)

It was time for me to start work.
I went and tried to pretend everything was all right although I did my job on automatic pilot that day. Outwardly I seemed fine, no one indicated any concern, but inwardly my emotions and thoughts were crushingly painful.
Throughout the day, over and over again, an unfamiliar warm wave would wash over me, surrounding me with a ‘presence’ of peace and calm. I had never experienced anything like it before – but somehow I knew that it was God- every time it came I stood motionless until it passed.
(later I found out that Vic had called Rosetta shortly after I left that morning and had asked her to put my name on a prayer chain. She did, and I believe that every time someone prayed for me – I literally ‘felt’ God answering their prayers)
By the time I left the store to go home, I was in a much calmer state but my thoughts were still in confusion as to what I was going to do , and what was I to do about God?
If he was real…. I had to make a choice - serve Him or reject Him.

On my way home,- I know the exact spot it happened- the wave came again but this time with such power that the car was filled with it. Now I knew that it was God – it was unmistakable.
A Love so powerful and real I could touch it!
I was at a decision crisis in my life. I was very aware that perhaps this was my last chance, that if I let this opportunity pass it may never come again.
That frightened me but there was something else that held me back from yielding to this wonderful Presence and Power …. I had been taught that Christians had to witness, and witnessing involved street corners, and going up to someone and giving them the gospel and reciting memorized bible verses – everything in me cringed at the idea.
No sooner had the thought formed in my mind than I heard God speak….”You don’t have to do that.”
I did not question the Voice, my heart leaped in surprise and I asked, “I don’t?” The answer was clear, “No, you don’t, you don’t ever have to say a word.”
All my doubts and questions began to melt and I wanted, oh, how badly I wanted to yield to the Love that filled my car. But I was still afraid, afraid that I would accept this Loving God and then find it all disappear after a time and I would be disappointed again – I couldn’t handle that. I wanted a God that would consume my life – that would be big enough to keep me ever learning and growing.
I thought, "OK, I will wait...if this feeling stays with me until I get home, then I will yield myself, my life to God."
Again God’s voice spoke, “You don’t have to wait, You have already made your decision.”
I knew that I had – the Love that filled the car now filled me!
I cried out that if God could indeed be big enough to fill every moment of every day for the rest of my life and eternity, I wanted Him!!! Oh how I wanted Him!!!
I wanted to confess all my sins and I started to list them but God assured me they were all forgiven.
What joy, what excitement filled my being.
I literally felt that my mind had been replaced with a new disk of information – the old way of looking at things and thinking was gone - I had a new mind – how much sense everything made now, and my thoughts whirled trying to take it all in.
When I got home, Vic was waiting for me at the door and he didn’t have to ask how my day had been… he took one look at me and knew.

Since that day I have never looked back. I found the God I was looking for, One who is real, and True, and intimately concerned about me and involved in my daily life.
I smile now at the memory of how relieved I was when God told me I didn’t have to ‘witness’ for Him. I found that talking about Him was the thing I loved best - and I looked for opportunities to share about His goodness, His love, to my friends, my family, co-workers, customers or even strangers. But I never thought of it as ‘witnessing’, it was as natural as talking about anything else in my life that was important.
My journey did not end that June Friday in 1979, it was just beginning and it is still continuing today – and my heart’s cry that God be big enough to fill my every day has more than been answered.

Every child of God has a ‘journey’ story and every story is unique. God is a personal God and knows exactly how to reach each one of us. He knows what experiences, what circumstances will guide us to Him, and He uses them all.
I often hear Christians express their regret that they don’t have ‘a story’, but I truly believe that the stories that will have the greatest honour in heaven will be the ones that say “I loved God all my life”.
The rest of us will glorify God because He kept searching for us, when we stopped looking for Him.


Demara said...

Oh Julie! What an excellent story you have told me here...I love hearing of your personal experiences and the way God made himself real to you!! I have felt him so close to me such as that experience in the car you felt that day too...but not for a very long time!!! Can you join me prayer, to pray that I too would feel His presence so real in my life again??? I mean really real not just "ya I know He's Here!"

Julie said...

I know what you mean.. and of course I will pray with you ..God wants so much to be 'real' to all His children... all we have to do is ask!! If we take one step toward Him, He will take a hundred toward us!

Demara said...

Oh no! I wouldn't want him to trample over me...haha JK :) I'm sure if it looked as though he was about to trample me he'd pick me up at the last minute and hold me tight...hey?

Lovella ♥ said...

Oh Julie, the story of your walk is just amazing. I never knew any of that. What an amazing God we have. Such love. Such amazing grace.

Carolanne said...

God's amazing love and His grace that kept at you until you yielded which now keeps you going.
Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

How true that the 'flow' out of us about our friend Jesus should be just as natural as talking about our earthly friends. It is so refreshing to be with someone whos conversation about Jesus is so natural and they don't have to be forcing a sharing time, but it just flows through them because it is their life. You are incredably gifted in your writing. Keep encouraging us all. Kathy

Lavinia said...

Just found (and read this) tonight. It's incredible. Your path to faith was fraught with such peril, such obstacles....I really enjoyed reading this, and I learned from it. Praise be to our Lord.

Jill said...

loved - your testimony - praise the Lord!!

Anneliese said...

Julie, although I've known you now for about a year,I just came across your tetimony now. I found it interesting that you "wanted a God that would consume your life – that would be big enough to keep you ever learning and growing." God answered that desire ...that is what I now see in you and that is how big He really is. I've often ben amazed to see how you see God in everything and am challenged by your ever willingness to learn more. God's love shines through you in all you do.

John Daily said...

A wonderful story of searching and finding. I have been down that road more than once.

Again, I am so glad that I found this Blog. The Lord led me here in a time of need and I am sure that he has led many this way.