Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My Testimony - Part Two - Called Out

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." ~ 1 John 1:9  

Later that week I called home. Mothers have a sixth sense when it comes to their children. Mine knew that there was something deeper than simple dehydration when I had spoken to her from the hospital a couple of weeks before. 

When I finished explaining to her what I'd been through and decided to do, she sympathized. She also told me that she wished I had told her before I had the abortion. She would have told me to have the baby. If only we had foresight...

I made arrangements to travel home for a week. It was the first time in years that I had ever desired home. I found out upon returning there was a new church in town and my parents had finally found a "fit". My siblings were raving about it, so I knew I would probably enjoy attending.

Photo Courtesy of Paolo Gadler
The first experience that I had of this new place was a barbecue at the Pastor's house late in the week. I immediately recognized people that I had gone to high school with. That amazed me. They weren't classmates of mine; most had graduated a couple to a few years ahead of me. But, I knew who they were, nonetheless. If this place was good for them, it would probably be good for me.

I trusted one enough, and I knew I needed an answer to my burning question, so I asked Dean if he could save me. Looking back, we laugh, and his answer is obvious, "I can't save you, but Jesus can." It was at this moment that I said a prayer of salvation. It was at this moment that I confessed my sins before God and asked for His forgiveness. I learned in that moment that Jesus did die on the cross for me. God did love me enough to provide healing and love and comfort to my broken heart.

I was very surprised when the Pastor asked me to repeat my prayer in front of the congregation on Sunday. He felt that it would be a testimony to others in the congregation. If it meant that someone else could feel the excitement and joy and life that Jesus had just granted me, then I was all for it. I repeated my prayer on Sunday morning, and when Pastor Engelhardt announced that I was going to be baptized that afternoon, two others joined me.

Photo Courtesy of Mee Lin Woon
It was a fairly cool day for early August, and Dry Brook Creek was chilly, as well. I didn't notice. What I noticed was I felt new on the inside but dirty on the outside going into the river. Pastor spoke to me about the significance of being submerged in baptism and how it represents Jesus' death, time in the tomb, and resurrection to new life. It represents how we are dying to our self, our flesh, putting it in a grave, and being born again to a new life in Christ. We become a new person.

Then, with the help of another, he submerged me. I don't like swimming in the river, because it smells like fish. It feels slimy. Well, not that day. I came back up feeling the cleanest I'd ever felt in my entire life. It was like I had just taken a bath in purity. I was definitely a new person.

I went back to college, found a local church to attend and started to read the Bible again. Words were fresh and new to me, and they came to life. It was no longer just a book. It was full of life. I understood things I never could before.

The most difficult thing for me was forgiving myself. I knew and understood that Jesus had forgiven me. It was easy for me to forgive others who were involved in my sin, as well. I had seen changes in my father while I was home, and I was glad that he had found a new love. I ran into my ex-boyfriend on campus, and he was apologetic and had decided a little too late that we should not have gone through the abortion procedure. I explained to him the forgiveness that I had found through Jesus, and I told him that I was alright and had forgiven him for everything. I hoped that it made a difference in his life. I still had to forgive myself.

That night, I had a dream. I had been reading the Bible before falling asleep. I then prayed for God to help me to forgive myself for all that I had done in my past. As I slept, I saw a playground sandbox. I was standing outside of the sandbox, watching in the first person. I saw the green grass, perfect, all around me and the sandbox. The sun was shining; the sky was clear and the perfect shade of blue for a sunny day. In the sandbox was a little girl, no more than 3 years old. She had tight, curly brown hair (my ex was African American) tied up in marble pig tail holders, huge brown eyes with long, beautiful lashes, and a smile that delighted my soul. She was wearing pink corduroy OshKosh bibs, with a white, short-sleeved polo shirt with a ribbon-trimmed collar. She was perfect. I watched her play for a bit, and then she looked up at me, stood up, and reached out for me to pick her up. She wrapped her little arms tight around my neck and proclaimed her love for me. It was in this moment that I knew that not only God forgave me, but she forgave me as well. She was in heaven with her Daddy, and I would see her again one day. God promised me that all was okay, through that dream. It was now a whole lot easier to forgive myself.

I continued to read the word and go to church for a couple of months, but one day I started to slip, and I knew it. After fighting with my flesh for a few weeks, I decided that I needed to move back home and be close to people who could help me in my new life as a born-again believer.

However, even that wasn't enough. After being home a short time, I met another guy and decided that the path I'd found toward God was not the one for me. I started hanging out with him and my parents eventually set up an appointment for them and me to meet with Pastor Engelhardt and his wife, Nancy.

I was seething with rebellion, and I was infuriated that my parents would force me to go to an appointment with them, because I knew that my rebellion was the focus. I was obstinent. I wasn't about to let someone else tell me how to live my life. Nancy got in my face that day. I hated it. My parents gave me the option to choose to live as I should and follow God's way or I had to leave home. They would not let me continue to live according to my flesh under their roof. It was the hardest thing my mother had ever had to do. And, I never dreamed my parents would actually kick me out.

My boyfriend and I moved to Binghamton, two hours from home, and life was about to take another turn for me. It was about six months into the relationship that I realized I was trying once again to be the Savior to someone. It was in this relationship that I realized that I could never change another human by loving them out of their issues. Sin is generational, and my boyfriend's father was an angry, bitter man. Multiply that, and you would have my boyfriend, twice as angry and turning abusive.

He was emotionally abusive at first, saying things that were spiteful and meant to sting.

However, one morning I would come to find out that he was also physically abusive.

We received a phone call at around 7AM from his employer. They were trying to find out something about his time card. I took a message, but I was half asleep and did not write down the contact's name or the phone number (we had to have the phone number was his employer). I had just come off of my night shift at our local diner, and the call had awoken me from that depth of sleep one experiences just after finally dozing off.

Well, he didn't appreciate my lack of detail in the message, so he decided to pick up his steel toed work boot and hit me in the middle of my lower back with it while I was laying on my side in bed, unaware of the oncoming pain.

This unnerved me just a bit, so I took off from the apartment shortly after and went to a fellow worker's to call the incident in to the local authorities, who said they couldn't do anything because he didn't leave a visible mark. He had left the apartment and was driving around in his car when he heard it over the scanner. Upon my return to the apartment, he was even angrier than before and decided to threaten me. After being thrown up against the wall by my neck, I decided this wasn't the best situation to be in. I didn't exactly know how to handle it, though, because now I was being physically attacked.

I continued life like normal, and one morning shortly thereafter I returned from work and went to bed as usual. Only this morning, I couldn't seem to fall asleep, and tired as I was, I couldn't understand why I wasn't able to drift off. I tossed and turned for awhile, until I heard Him. God spoke to me that morning in a very audible voice. His words were few and simple and extremely clear. "IF YOU DON'T GO HOME NOW, YOU'LL NEVER SEE YOUR ETERNAL HOME."

That was it. His voice was clear. His voice was loud. His voice resonated with His authority. His voice was that of a Father who loves His child desperately and wants immediate obedience to His word. My mission was clear. My life was suddenly very clear.

I made the excuse that I couldn't sleep and was craving coffee, so I was going to the diner to write. It was just down the street. It was a rainy fall day, drizzly and grey. I grabbed my umbrella and journal, my pencil and my Bible (which I hadn't read in months). I almost ran down the street to the payphone, where I called my mom from.

I explained what was going on in our relationship and what God had just told me. She told me that she and my dad would come to get me, but she put a condition on it. She knew my love for music, and she knew about some of the music that I had in my collection (like, Pantera, Nine Inch Nails, Pearl Jam, Two Live Crew, and more...). I had over 500 cassettes at the time, and it would continue to grow if it weren't for her condition to get rid of it before they got there. Easy enough. Fair enough. Not a big deal considering the life I'd been leading. I didn't want to risk my life trying to leave the relationship, so she and I planned with wisdom that I would call home when he left for work again. He worked for the railroad, so he was out on the "road" for at least 48 hours when he was called in. It was an opportune time for me to pack up and leave without him even knowing I was going.

Photo Courtesy of Marcos Santos
I spent the rest of that day reading my Bible, refreshing my spirit man with strength and comfort from God's word, and praying that he would get called out then. He had no clue that I was planning to return home while he was gone. I played the role very well.

God hears His children when they cry out to Him, and He made good on His word that I needed to return home. My boyfriend got called to work that evening. I drove him to the train station in his car, dropped him off and kissed him goodbye like all was well, drove back to the apartment and made the call to Mom and Dad.

By 11PM, I was packed and they were there to pick me up and drive me home. The prodigal daughter had returned home. Not only to her earthly home, but to her Father in heaven as well. My life would never be the same again. It was on that day in November of 1996 that I fully dedicated my life to God and Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. It was that day that I knew that God loved me and cared for me like no one else ever had, would, or could. It was that day that I knew that He was REALLY REAL. It was that day that I fully gave everything within me and around me to Him. I was truly saved.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for sharing your thoughts here at My Thoughtful Spot! I love hearing them!