Sunday, March 8, 2009

Journey to the Foot of the Cross

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock."
(Revelation 3:20a)

As early as I can remember, I felt drawn to the supernatural—God, religion, the occult. However, it took a little over half a century before I came to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Along the way I explored several paths—each time convinced that I had found the right one. But I thank God for His persistence in pursuing me and nudging me along until I landed right into the outstretched arms of Jesus.

How grateful I am that His ways are not our ways and that He has infinite mercy and patience. No matter how wayward I must have seemed, He never gave up on me or turned His back on me--even when I vented all my pent up anger and frustration on Him. Instead, He continued to hover over me, to protect me, and to take care of me.

As I think back on my childhood and the years before I was saved, I can remember some very distinct occasions when He actually delivered me from potential danger and harm, either by planting a warning thought in my mind, or through His divine intervention.

I was an only child and because of my father’s involvement with his work and my mother’s involvement with him, I spent a lot of time with nannies, maids and in boarding schools. I wanted so much to feel special and to “belong,” but I never seemed to fit in. I really envied friends who came from large, close-knit families, while I myself, felt as though I had no roots. My parents did love me, but they treated me more as a belonging or an extension of themselves than as a separate entity with emotional needs who needed nurturing and support.

My mother was so motivated by fear that she overprotected me and kept me sheltered from many things that I should not have been sheltered from. Even major family events that should have been shared were not, which increased my feelings of isolation and disconnectedness. For instance, when my grandmother died, and later my father, I was away at school and was not told about their deaths until after their funerals. In the case of my father, it wasn’t even my mother who broke the news to me, but rather, one of her friends who she sent to visit me at school and tell me what had happened.

I struggled with feelings of inadequacy, guilt, shame, condemnation, rejection--never seeming to be able to live up to anyone’s expectations—especially my mother's. And I found myself constantly deferring to the wishes of other people in an attempt to be accepted and loved. Even after I got married, I never knew what it was like to be loved unconditionally or to have someone stand up for me. I made many compromises I didn’t want to make, because of my lack of self-esteem, fear of abandonment, and fear of what other people might think.

Because I was so needy, I settled for very much less than God’s best for me and did many things for the wrong reasons, driven by a constant and overwhelming need to prove myself. As a result, there was a lot of anger and resentment brewing beneath the surface that I wasn’t even aware of.

After my husband’s death, I became involved in the occult. Visiting psychics became a regular activity and I also immersed myself in the study of astrology, numerology, metaphysics and other new age practices. For the first time in my life I felt at peace as I learned that my personality, the way I interacted with people, and the events that happened in my life were all predetermined by the numbers in my given name at birth and by the position of the stars when I was born. Knowing that these things were out of my control made them easier to accept. I wasn’t looking for roots any more—or feeling dissatisfied with my circumstances. I felt that all my questions had been answered in a very rational, clear-cut way that I could deal with.

It was quite a natural progression from here to the Eastern path I later became initiated into. Whereas the occult had offered me plausible explanations, Sant Mat (also known as “The Path of the Masters”) offered me the promise of a savior who would take me out of the cycle of reincarnation and lead me back to God. The teachings of this path were substantiated by numerous Scriptures—especially those found in the Gospel of John (although I later discovered that some had been slightly misquoted—like John 14:6 which they quoted as “ the way, the truth, and the light” rather than “the way, the truth, and the life).

They believed in Jesus and taught that no one could come to God except through a savior, but they claimed that the flock Jesus came to save was the flock that lived 2,000 years ago. They used John 10:3-4 (“…he calleth his own sheep by name… and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice”) to substantiate that fact. They taught that God has never left the world without a savior. He sends one to every generation to gather the sheep living at that time. They quoted the last phrase of 1 John 4:20 (“…how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”) to substantiate the fact that people can only be saved by a living Master who they can see—and not by Jesus or by any of the previous Masters who are no longer inhabiting a physical body.

All this, to say that without divine intervention of the most miraculous kind, I would never have gotten saved. I was perfectly happy with my life and believed in my salvation. I felt reconciled with God and certain that I would be spending eternity with Him. No one could have convinced me otherwise. In fact, I clearly remember a conversation I once had with a Christian acquaintance of mine who was telling me about my need for Jesus. It puzzled me that she couldn’t understand that I already had a savior and considered myself saved. She kept telling me it wasn’t the same thing and I kept insisting that it was.

At about this time, I started experiencing some financial setbacks that led me deeper and deeper into debt. Bills were piling up as I tried to juggle Peter so I could pay Paul, and my judgment must have really been clouded, because the more effort I put into trying to redeem my situation, the worse things got. Instead of making more money (which is what I was attempting to do), I was just losing it and creating more debt. It got to the point where I didn’t even know how (short of a miracle) I would be able to come up with my next month’s rent. That was when, I got a call from my married daughter who was living in another state. She wanted to know if she, hubby, and the two little ones could come up for Thanksgiving.

Now how does a mother tell her child no, you can’t come because right now I don’t even have money to pay the rent, let alone buy food to feed all of you--especially when there is a pride issue involved. So I told her that of course they could come. And that’s how the real God, Jehovah Jireh, got His foot in the door, came to my rescue, and got my full attention. I hadn’t been planning on having Thanksgiving that year, but now I was going to need to come up with a way. What a pickle I found myself in!

As I was pondering what to do, a friend of mine told me about a program she had watched on TV. This televangelist had talked about planting seeds for your needs and she had tried it and it really worked. She was so excited that I decided to see what it was all about for myself.

Under normal circumstances I would have immediately switched channels or turned off the TV at the sight of this loud and hyper man. However, because of the urgency of my situation I forced myself to watch and keep an open mind. He was talking about planting seeds of faith and about tithing and, in the process, he quoted a whole bunch of scripture verses which I later looked up. It seemed kind of hokey, but I figured I had nothing to lose at this point.

So I decided to call up his prayer line and plant a seed of faith, believing God to provide the money I needed for the rent and other bills, and also for Thanksgiving. I also decided to start tithing (though not into his ministry), and donated a tenth of whatever money came in, no matter how puny the amount, to some local charitable organizations that were reaching out to the poor and needy.

Well, my harvest started coming in and by the time Thanksgiving rolled around my bills were paid and I was even able to cater the meal from a kosher deli to accommodate my sister-in-law and brother-in-law who are Jewish and who I had invited to join us.

It would all have ended there, if the path I was on had any bans on its members investigating other belief systems or religions, but they didn’t. In fact we were taught that following the teachings of the path would just make us better Christians or Jews or Catholics or whatever it was we had been before we came to the master. In their eyes it was all compatible. So I started studying my Bible and testing the Scriptures. I figured that if some promises were true, then the others were probably true also.

Up until then I had always thought of the Bible as a historical book, but now I was beginning to see it as a very detailed roadmap God had provided me with to show me the path to follow, as well as the pitfalls to avoid, if I wanted to experience the very best He had for me.

Those were the days when I couldn't get enough of reading my Bible. I also found some other Christian programs with more substance to them, and started watching them on a regular basis. Finally the day came when I felt ready to turn my life over to Jesus, and as the invitation was given on the program I was listening to, I put my hand on the TV screen, repeated the sinner’s prayer, and asked Jesus to come into my heart and be my Lord and Savior. But that was just the very beginning. There's a whole lot more to follow.

Stay tuned for Part II.
PART II Exploring the Word


Anonymous said...

Wow what a powerful, powerful testimony! And there is more to come? I have to read on as you have gotten my full attention. It is amazing how God allows us to travel down the wrong paths, yet He is right there beside us the whole way. When He is ready to make His move in our lives, He shows up right on time. Wow this was one powerful and amazing testimony my friend.

Well, off I go to part 2!

Love you!

Lori said...

Hi Great Granny, I came here from Valerie's blog. I love hearing how people came to Jesus. It's getting late, but I bookmarked your blog. I will definitely come back to read more. God bless!

Grammy Staffy said...

What a beautiful testimony. I also have a testimony of the power of paying tithing. When I pay my 10% to the Lord I know He will bless me and help my 90% stretch to meet my needs. It has happened in my life over and over. I learned this lesson from my mom. We had very little income but we always got by because she paid an honest tithing.

Thank you for sharing your testimony with us.

Butterfly Works said...

What a testimony...I can relate to you on so many levels. Thank you for having the courage to tell others of your journey to find the Savior.....I too love Jesus and so thankful for all He has done for us.
Blessings to you,

Personalized Sketches and Sentiments said...

Praise the Lord! What a blessing it is to read the testimonies such as yours. God is good!

Blessings & Aloha!
I am coming over from "Of Mice and Ramen".
Will be reading more...

amix76 said...

So much like my testimony! I was late in coming to the Lord and more than dabbled in occult teachings.But God protects and is patient with those that seek truth. Thank you for sharing. You are an inspiration. :)