I formally met my husband at the Winter Park Youth Center on October 23, 1971. I did not know the Lord yet, but God was definitely working in my heart.
During this evening, after I had cancelled a babysitting job, I was walking around and there were some big round wooden tables. A guy was at one of them, and I passed him a couple of times. Of course, my method of meeting guys during this time was to *smile* at them. It didn't take long for them to notice me usually, and respond.
Even though I was not a Christian yet, I had an impression to meet this guy, so I did. I didn't know that there were rules to follow so I gave this guy my phone number. He called the next day and set up a date to go to a homecoming dance, to which I automatically responded in that I would go. I also invited him over to the house because I knew my parents were not going to let me date anyone they did not yet meet.
My parents liked this boy, and I would be allowed to date him. But he asked me out for a strange kind of date. He would not tell me what it was, but he told me that I would like it because it has music. I was puzzled and unsure of whether I wanted to go on this date or not, and I have to give some background information as to why I was apprehensive about this date that would occur on a Monday night coming up.
About six months before this all happened, God began to deal with my heart. There was something He wanted me to know. This all happened when I was 14, at the time when my grandmother passed away. I was continually experiencing an awareness that God wanted me to know something. Never could figure out what it was though. At this point, my heart was hardened to the Gospel. I did fear God up to a point, but now it was my turn in life to call the shots, so I thought.
For my early school years, I didn't really know how to talk, so kids would pick on me and take advantage of that. Kids would bully me around and get me into trouble for things I should not have done, and by the time I was 13, I got really tired of this. I decided to turn the tables around and use my looks as a weapon against people bullying me around. I started bullying people around. I even beat people up now and started fights with people. But now, God was working in my heart, and I wasn't willing to respond, for if I did respond, I wouldn't be able to have power over people anymore.
During the summer right after my grandmother died, we went up north to visit. I was thinking that this would be good for me, because this impression concerning God would probably go away while I was on vacation. But it didn't. In fact, it continued. I was constantly wondering what it was God was trying to communicate with me, but at the same time, I wanted to be ignorant of this awareness, because I wasn't willing to give up my desire for control.
One time we were in the car, and a religious program came on (which was very rare). I plugged my ears because I wanted to play like I was ignorant of whatever God wanted me to know. I developed a phobia of being in a place where I would happen to hear about God and whatever it was He wanted me to know. I was learning to protect myself from this ever happening when all of the sudden my new boyfriend wants to take me to a place that he won't tell me what it is, except that I will like it because there will be music there. What if this place has to do with God? What will I do? Should I bring earplugs just in case?
Monday night came, and my new date arrived to pick me up to bring me to this mysterious place that would have music. Oh no, we arrived at a church building! What is this? He explained to me that it was called, 'Young Life'.
I sat at my very first ever 'Young Life' meeting as scared as could be. But I did sit and listen. I saw a lot of people there that I knew were not Christians. Some of them were smoking right there. Should I get out my cigarettes and light one up too? It was very strange indeed, and I did not understand the message that was given, but, I did stay there through the whole thing.
We had gone to a couple more 'Young Life' meetings during that year, and it got easier for me to go to them. Whatever it was that God wanted me to know still eluded me, but the awareness was still there. My husband to be would ask me questions like 'Are you a Christian?' to which I would respond back 'yes'. He was really troubled by my baptism experience, and I was troubled by his continually bringing this up. I called the reverend at our church and asked him about baptism. Eventually, my boyfriend took me to talk with his pastor, at his church building about baptism. The pastor was very kind and realized that I didn't have a clue of what he was talking about. So, the pastor read a little booklet to me called, 'The Four Spiritual Laws' and asked me at the end, if I had ever prayed a prayer like the one written on the back. At that moment, it became clear to me that I didn't have a relationship with God. I was now beginning to see something about this awareness of God, and what God was trying to communicate to me.
I took the booklet home and read it over and over again. I still didn't get it, but it was beginning to make some sense to me. I did pray the prayer in the back of the book, but not sure how much of the Gospel I grasped at that time.
God used the relationship I was developing with my boyfriend to position me to respond to the Gospel. The following year was a struggle, for this boy I was dating and I were growing close together. But there were things he didn't know about me that probably would have made him end the relationship. The way I wanted to run my life and control my relationships with others would have interfered with my relationship with him. So, one day, very clearly it came to me, that I could either continue on with this relationship with this young man, or, I could go the other direction (which I was going anyway, but not in front of my boyfriend). I couldn't have both at the same time. I really loved my boyfriend though. What will I choose?
If I continued in my rebellion, I would not be able to respond to God. I could give all that up and turn to God, and keep my boyfriend, or, I could just continue to try to impress my friends/enemies and bully people around and manipulate with my looks. I had to think hard on this. Either choice, I would have to give up something precious to me. I would either have to give up my boyfriend and my opportunity to know God, or, I would have to give up my control and manipulation, which I seemed to be very successful at during that season.
God arranged for me to meet other people who were Christians, and they encouraged me as I responded to God. By God's grace, I let go of my ego and the other world that I was in, that would have bitten me in the end, anyway. It wasn't easy, but it was for the best. Honestly, I don't know where I would be today if God hadn't intervened. I have a feeling that I might now even be alive today. I am so grateful that God was putting things in my awareness about Him, and for the friends who I met because He put them in my life.
I would not trade my life for anyone else's or any other option, no matter how grand it could have been. Even though life has been difficult, God has always been there and provided grace and help during the seasons of difficulty. Now it is my turn to help others to learn to hear from God. God gives us the ministry of reconciliation, which reconciles people back to God.
Everyone needs to be reconciled to God because of sin. Sin is like a disease which everyone has. The only cure for it is the Gospel message. We sin because we are sinners, and we enjoy our sin. God can give us new hearts that are greater than our love and hold on sin. The power of God is so great that we can be free from sin, and the desire to live in sin.
The essence of sin is simply loving ourselves instead of God. We all do this in many ways. Some of us are openly evil and end up in prison. Others are quietly evil, just basically self-centered. But God can help us all because He sent His Son around 2,000 years ago to die for our sins. He committed no sin, so He could die in our place.
During that time, God the Father put all our sin upon His Son, Jesus. For three hours, the sun didn't shine and darkness was upon the earth. Jesus uttered these word, 'It is finished', which meant that everything necessary for us to be free from sin and to be cleansed from sin was accomplished. Another amazing thing happened though; the curtain that separated the Holy of Holies was torn in half. You might ask, what does this mean?
The Holy of Holies was a special room that only a sanctified priest could enter during certain times of the year, and with a specific type of required sacrifice that was directed by God. If anything were wrong with anything in this event, the priest would die. In fact, I believe that there was a rope attached to him so he could be pulled out if necessary. No one could just enter this room where God's presence was in, or they would die. But when Jesus died, the curtain that separated this room and kept it secluded was torn in half. This simply meant that God and man could now be reconciled again. Now people can go free! We don't have to be slaves of sin anymore.
Jesus provided the Ultimate Sacrifice for our sins. Up to that point, people who wanted their sins covered would have to slaughter lambs and offer them to God. Now we don't have to do that because Jesus died as the Lamb of God. He only had to die one time. Another spectacular thing happened though; Jesus rose from the dead! This has never happened before. Jesus was the first to rise from the dead! He stayed for a while and continued to teach the disciples. Then He ascended back to heaven. One Day, He will return to earth and will take with Him those who trust in Him. Only those who turn from sin and trust in Him will go with Him back to heaven. The others will go to a place of torment that will last forever. My mom used to call it 'the devil's fire' but the Bible calls it 'hell'. It is also referred to as the Lake of Fire. The devil will be in this Lake of Fire along with all his angels (demons, demonic realm). But sadly, all of us will be there too, unless we repent and turn to God by trusting in Jesus as Lord/Savior.
For more information on the Gospel, please go to http://thegospelconversation.blogspot.com