"Your Testimony Will Show Them" Part 1
"YOUR TESTIMONY WILL SHOW THEM"
2009 was a year of darkness;of shocking news,intense emotional pain,of briefness of life. But it's said we grow more spiritually during darkness than we do in sunshine. At least the potential for it is there. And the events throughout 2009 were to be the catalyst which was to propel me onto the pathway toward my present walk with God,into the person I have become in Christ Jesus;a life of depth,of richness, of joy.
I know joy such as I had never imagined. I soar to spiritual heights I never knew existed. Most every day,in fact,though I realise this sounds too good to be true.
Doesn't matter if I'm hit by trauma,pain,tests.What I have now remains constant amongst the upheaval. I have it because Jesus gives it. It's mine because I found out how to claim his promises. Every single one of them.
If I had known then,in 2009, what I do now,the deep sadness would have seemed somehow easier to bear, and yet,If I'd only known-IF,IF,IF! Would I have acted any differently? Would I have suddenly been endowed with heavenly wisdom? Doubtful. The events of 2009 helped lead me to the place where I am now. When we are led, we are given a choice. We respond-either toward God or away. We run TO Him or AWAY from Him. And we become like the one we follow. If we choose to follow Jesus, we slowly become more and more like Him, if we choose to follow the world, we become more and more like it. Either way is a gradual process,like a baby learning to walk, as we take on the nature of the Master we follow,whether the prince of darkness or the Prince of Peace.
Almost from it's conception,2009 brought with it pain,as I found myself drinking deeply from the very dregs of the cup. Dark news came from America. This news was about Chuck,my neice,Melissa's husband. I was told he had been feeling unwell for sometime and had been undergoing tests since December. The tests centered on his digestive tract. In January the doctors,after seeing what appeared to be a shadow or that of a tumour--I'm not sure anymore which one it was--moved to take drastic action. They went in surgically,an exploratory. This they did in all urgency. What they discovered was a huge,inoperable tumour. The doctors gave him 6 months to live. But,Chuck,in his mid-30s,didn't want to die. He wanted to live. He was a brand new Child of God,heading in the right direction: UP,but he didn't want to go straightaway.
Chuck longed for Jesus to touch him;to be healed;to be free from the aggressive,evil disease that was eating away at his system. He so desired to be rid of the endless circle of pain and suffering. Believing that Jesus,his Savoir,is also the Healer,and that it's his will to heal,Chuck made a choice to look to him,the one who saves and frees. He decided to look to Jesus.
But Chuck was a new Christian who knew very little about the faith the Bible teaches. He only knew he needed it. We,his family, should have known more,as we had all known Jesus longer,and even that He is our healer. Yet about faith,we hadn't a clue. We were--especially us from the previous generation,as our Mama had been a nurse--were most familiar with the medical world, that of doctors,medicines and treatments.
But on this gloomy January day,the words of a prayer formed within me,the prayer to God that Chuck would be healed. I prayed for healing, for strength,for victory over a disease which is both evil and in many cases,deadly.
About the young ones who die,we often say,"He was robbed of life",without realising the truth of our words,for Jesus tells us we have a very real enemy,the devil, who does just that. He robs.
"For the thief cometh not but to kill,steal,and destroy,but I am come that you may have life,and have it more abundantly." John 10:10.
A thief does not take what belongs to him. He takes from someone else what belongs to them.
Sometimes it seems we can be enlightened in an area,yet blinded at the same time. Have you ever noticed?
So,I sent myself on a time-wasting quest to discover what real faith is,and how to get it. Unaware I already had it. I had even exercised it countless times,a number of these during 2008 when I,myself,was healed twice, and received exactly the car I had believed for. God even miraculously repaired my washer/dryer. The problem was I did not know exactly what Faith was,or how to get it. Faith seemed somewhat mysterious-- a concept to be pondered on, like the question,"What is the sound of a tree falling in an empty forest?" Yet,this is fruitless,because Faith is not of the mind at all. Faith is of the heart. Romans 10:9-10 unveils this important truth to us. It tells us,"If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus,and believe in thy heart that God hath raised him from the dead,thou shalt be saved. for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness(right-standing with God),and with the mouth,confession is made unto salvation."
So this is faith: Confess with my mouth (SAY) what I believe in my heart(not my head!)
Believe it. Say it. Receive it.
Jesus taught it again and again. Here's how he worded in one instance,"And all things,whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer,believing,ye shall receive."(Mt 21:22) This is the same pattern we are to follow is given, and it has worked for me each and every time.
Believe. Say. Receive. No place in the Bible are we told we have to "feel" it. And always we say it before we see it!
What do you do when you believe anything? You say it. So,we again have: Believe.Confess. Receive.
Notice that "Believe" is first. Believe God. Trust Him.
But,there's still one vital ingredient missing from this,which leaves us with a bit of a puzzle, that is all put together,except for that one missing piece. How do we get Faith into our hearts in the first place so we can then use it?
In Romans 10:17 we make the discovery,
"So then faith comes by hearing,and hearing by the word of God."
When we hear and hear God's Word,faith is born. Ah! Here's the missing piece which completes that puzzle. Ah, here's the piece I was searching for. Hear it.
Believe it.Say it. Receive it.
How much more simple can God make it for us? Faith is not a philosophy,but something right at our fingertips. Yours and mine. Right there in the Word of God.
But here I was thinking I had to search and search to find faith. So,in order to help Chuck,I began to search,not in the Bible itself,but on the Net. Not as often as I had hoped,however. My search was hampered by more darkness invading our lives.
It was February,and our beloved little dog,Gracie,who was to turn 14 in May,was on a downward turn, failing before our eyes. God had intervened 3 time in the past,and snatched her from certain death,yet he had said that the next time would be it. Next time, he said, he would be taking her "Home"(to our heavenly home). This was " the next time".
The Vet confirmed that Gracie's system was in total failure. Filled with despair,feeling as if our hearts would break,Chris,Gracie and I entered the last two weeks of her life on earth. Now again, God was with us. My friends, He never leaves us alone! The darker it feels, the closer He is. And there He was during these dark two weeks, showing His unfailing love for us,the love He has for each person born on this earth. During this time, He answered our prayers,He comforted us,and caused the last days of Gracie's life to be sweet along with bitterness.
This is a story in itself,and a testament of God and his constant,abiding love and compassion-that he would loves us so much he would even be moved to great compassion by the death of the little dog we loved so much. But,I will tell this story at a later time,God willing.
Gracie entered our heavenly home on Valentine's Day,and our joy turned into weeping. We entered into a peroid of mourning. It felt as if we had lost our own child. Blackness hung over me,chilling my soul,as day after day, every thing I did and each thing I touched triggered memories,causing pain. My throat became raw from crying,my eyes swollen. Yet,eventually came a time when I cried less often and with less intensity than at the beginning, as I busied myself with a new puppy,Alli Bongo. The Lord even helped train her.
Soon the air was filled with the singing of birds,the happy flutter of their wings,while the sleeping earth burst forth with the richness of blossoming flowers and leafy green trees. We had made it to summer,the end of which would bring us more dark surprises. This was when Chris and I renewed our time of Bible reading and prayer together.
Chuck was still with us. He had made it into summer. I emailed him and Melissa,my precious neice, when I could. My emails were mostly about faith, what it was said to be and how to get it. He was testifying that he was healed,and yet,I heard that the horrible symptoms continued. Still,I continued researching Bible faith according to others,passing on all the info I gleaned. I finally sent a couple of small books to him about faith by ones I considered to be more "in the know" than I was on how to operate in faith, and better able to explain it.
Meanwhile,my frequent calls to my Mama in Tulsa continued. It was my habit to call her at least two,if not three times each week. On average we would chat 15-20 minutes each time,not usually more, as more was too tiring for her. But,at the end of August,when I made a standard call to her,it was different. Even the mood was different,and she talked and talked and talked,almost non-stop. It was as if she did not want us to ever hang up. I found this a little strange,but I never dreamed it was significant. This was the last time I would really talk to her. It was our last real talk. Much later,it dawned on me that she must have known this.
I was not left to wonder long about this oddity. Only a day or two after my lengthy chat with Mama, Chris and I read the Word together, then I led in prayer. But that day,as soon as I opened my eyes,I had a "knowing",which some call,"intuition",in my spirit that something was wrong,but I didn't know what it was,or who it involved. Along with this "knowing" came a great sense of urgency to pray and intercede. Never having experienced this kind of thing before,I was surprised.
I looked at Chris and blurted out,"Is everything okay with you? Is there anything you want me to pray for?"
"No",he replied,"I'm fine."
I pressed a second time,"Are you sue you're okay?"
"Yes,I'm fine",he replied.
So I pressed further, the third time," Are you sure you don't need something?"
That time he cut me short,as he was losing patience with me, so I explained,"All I know is that my spirit tells me that someone somewhere is in need,but I don't know who it is or what the problem is. I thought perhaps it was you."
"Well,it's not.",he said.
I postponed working out this burden in prayer. Then I did something I lived to regret: I didn't pray at all.
The next day,the phone rang. It was my youngest daughter,Christa. I could feel the fear and worry that was in her voice.
"Aunt Becky called me requesting your number,Mom. Grandma is in the hospital. She had to be rushed to ER during the night. Doctors did an emergency surgery on her,and she's in ICU. Her condition is gravely critical. You need to call Aunt Becky right away."
I made that phone call.
Mama had a trach, tubes were running from every conceivable part of her body, machines everywhere.
She lay there in complete silence,eyes open and staring, semi-comotose. There was concern that she may have been starved of oxygen for a few minutes during surgery,but this was not certain. I went straight to praying.
"First I repented before the Lord for not heeding to the warning to pray. I promised I would never ignore a prompting like this again. Ever. Then, I prayed in all earnest,"Lord,please don't allow my actions,or lack of action to affect the outcome of this situation. Please raise up Mama from that bed;heal her and restore her to us."
And Mama did come round,although being misdiagnosed, she was rushed back to ICU once more. Rallying a second time,she was placed back in a private room. Yet,she was never to be herself again,not her old self,though it was Mama,and she had most of the same sassiness and cuteness about her that always made us laugh. But,even her voice was different:higher in pitch and more childlike.
When she was more stable and could speak,I called her daily. It was for her,and because I loved her. She was my mother. She was the best mother in the world to me. Yet,there was an empty space inside because the Mama I had known,the Mama who was my best friend,was no longer there.
My oldest sister,Elaine, who spoke to Becky each morning, would then email each of us with a progress report. I was seated at the PC reading report on the day God spoke to me. I heard Him say,"I want to take your Mama home now."
I didn't have to question who had said that. I knew. I simply reacted.
Out of the depths of my heart came, "No,God!, Please,please don't take Mama. Not yet. Not now."
I felt Chris's arms as he made an attempt to console me,but all I could think of was getting alone with God,and changing His mind. So,wriggling free, I headed out to the backgarden to be alone with God.
When I reached the quietness of the garden,God was already there waiting for me. As I've said,I met with Him, determined to reverse His present plan of action. That this didn't happen is not because I didn't try. I gave the best argument I could,but His was better. Mine was completely emotional. His was based on Fact: His unchanging Word.
Isaiah 43:26 tells us,"Put me in rememberance,let us plead together:declare thou,that thou mayest be justified."
I pleaded "More time please more time",so that we,her family,could enjoy having her here on earth with us a bit longer,and especially so that I would see her once more before she went home ,as I had not seen her since 2007,two years earlier.
God,ever patient,gently turned my mind back to a day in the mid-80s when I came before Him. he took me back to the exact prayer I whispered as Mama lay dying between back-to-back heart surgeries.
He said to me,"Do you remember what you said to me that day? You said,'Father,you've promised us at least 70 years,but Mama's not even close to 70. She's only in her 50s. I asked that you give her the full 70 years and any years past that is a bonus.' I've given her the 70 and the bonus years besides. Now,I'd like to bring her home."
He had put me in rememberance,and suddenly I knew that His argument was the strongest.
So,as I stood there with tears streaming from my eyes, I released my hold on Mama, giving her over to His care, submitting to His will.
The moment I did this, the moment I submitted, peace such as I've never known, filled my heart,putting my mind at rest. I was filled to overflowing.
This peace was to remain for months to come,and I never once grieved over her death. I only rejoiced.
It was time,time for her to be pain-free,to not only see Jesus,whom she had seen on two different occasions,but to be with Him,and to be with Daddy.
When the Lord had told me Daddy was to come home,it was different. I was told through my own spirit's voice(intuition as some call it) that Daddy would come home after I had enjoyed one last visit with Him. But, God never does things the same way twice.It's easier to forget sometimes that we are finite,while He is infinite.
We can easily make the mistake of looking to Him as if He is also boxed into a limited physical world, boxed into this world in which we react to what our 5 senses tell us. We forget He is God not man.
Unlike man, He does not react, He acts,and He does so in versatile,creative ways. He is God Almighty--Elohim. He is God, our Creator. He is El,"the mighty One,the Strong One". His ways are above our ways;His thoughts are above our thoughts. To Him we are but dust,as we were made from the earth. Yet,He loves us,and His love is constant, as unchanging as He is,"I am the Lord,and I change not."
Not wasting a moment,I went straight to the phone,and dialed Christa first then Elaine with the news that the Father would be taking Mama home soon.
Both of my daughters and my sister were on planes to Tulsa as soon as possible,in order to be with Mama. This proved to be a wise move,as two weeks later,Mama's heart Specialist spoke with Becky about Mama. He told her what some of us already knew: Mama was dying, soon.
It was so hard for me to have Mama thousands of miles away,with a huge ocean and a mass of land in between,and remain here.
It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. But,I was simply undone,as we say,or rather unwell.The symptoms had hit quite suddenly. It felt like a kidney infection Thinking it was only this,and of the standard type,I decided on self-treatment. I'd drink cranberry juice,an old cure,and lots of it.As it went,this not the best choice for me. In fact,in this case,it proved to be an almost fatal move.
That my kidneys were not medically considered "normal" should be pointed out. For unknown reasons,my kidneys had ceased functioning properly in Spring 2007,and I suddenly began swelling up--my feet and my legs,mainly. When I complained to the doctor,he said,"That must be because your functioning level dropped to 80%". He couldn't say why.
Tests were done. I even saw a renal Specialist. Though they searched, no underlying medical cause for the drop in functioning levels could be found,so there was no treatment. If there was no known cause,there is no available treatment. It's as simple as this. All that could be done was taking a functioning test every 6 months,and treating the symptoms as they developed. Every function test showed a drop. By mid-2008,functioning was at 50%. After that,doctors refused to tell me what it was. Dialysis is not available until 30%,but here in Britain there is a huge waiting list, and I was not a good candidate for it.
Despite this,I opted for cranberry juice when I felt the kidney symptoms begin,putting off seeing my doctor for 5 days. By then, I was desperately ill,hit with some of the worst symptoms I'd ever known.
No Siree. This was definitely nothing standard. Wracked with continual pain,and not able to keep down food or water,by then,I could hardly even raise my head off my pillow. But,somehow,Chris managed to get me to my doctor. And once the doctor got the test results back,he was more than a little concerned. T
he tests had shown E coli in the kidneys which could prove deadly,and had to so many people,even ones with kidneys considered to be healthy. Tragically even to small children.
E. coli is bacterial not viral, and only treatable (medically) with one of two powerful antibiotics,either of which will cause symptoms as horrible as the E coli itself. My doctor warned me of this,but I didn't care.
I didn't see how I could possibly feel sicker than I was. I was wrong. I didn't know what sick was. I was to come face-to-face with the fullest reality of sick,as sick was soon to hit me squarely in the face.Yet it wasn't the medication that caused it afterall.
I made the decision to not tell any of the family in Tulsa that I was even ill. The important thing to me was that Mama wouldn't find out. I'd begun calling her in her hospital room each day,speaking with first my daughters then Mama. But,I'd never been able to hide anything from her. She'd always seen right through me. Thought I might have been able to in this case,since she was,as I've said,not her old self.
Each day, I would struggle into a sitting position, dial her number,and try to sound healthy and cheerful as I could. But how does that old saying go? "We may fool some people some of the time,but we don't fool all of the people all of the time." And,Mama was no fool. She was way beyond fooling. At least not by me. She was sharp as a tack,and intuitive besides.
Sometimes she would cry when she heard it was me on the phone. Other days I talked and she listened. Still others,she talked and I listened.
Mama never once asked why I wasn't there,but I knew that she was hurting because I wasn't. The girls said she would sometimes cry after I hung up.
I had been given a 5-day supply of one of the two antibiotics. The doctor ordered me to take them faithfully. As I did,there was steady improvement during the first 4 days. But, on the 5th day, a Friday,and beginning of the weekend,not long after swallowing the last tablet,there was again a change,and I had that sinking feeling the E coli was not gone. It was very much alive.
My body was soon to know what "sicker" really was. On Friday,I alerted the doctors,and a quick urine test was done. Yet, there was a problem,the test said,"negative." the antibiotic in my system masked the bug. And the doctor's verdict? No infection,no medication.
On Saturday,as symptoms increased,a trip was made to ER,but still the negative persisted.
By late Sunday morning,full-blown E coli struck,and if I thought I was sick the first time,it was wellness compared to this one.
Monday's test was positive,and the other antibiotic was given,but though the E coli left, I was not the same. I felt a different kind of unwellness,that of progressive kidney failure. In my heart,I knew this was so, and yet,I told no one. Not early on. I simply got on with life, no matter how temporary that life may be.
My thoughts were still with Mama as she entered the last days of her life. She had begun to move further away from this world and closer to the next. She was now seeing into the Spiritual realm. She was seeing Angels,and members of family who had went before her, even beloved pets would come to visit. She would often describe them. But,she was worried about one thing.
She said,"Heaven is so big. I'm afraid I won't be able to find Roy(my Daddy)."
Each one of us assured Mama she would easily find him. And,we prayed to the Lord that Daddy be allowed to visit Mama,and he was. Twice.
On his second visit, just a few days before her death, he said,"You're coming to a beautiful place."
Jesus visited too. A couple of times. I've heard it said in regards to seeking healing for the terminally ill,"If they see Jesus,that's it. There is no chance of healing for them. When the person sees Jesus,they don't want to remain in this world;they want to go." That was it for Mama too. She had seen Jesus,and she was ready to go.
Others may not ever see Jesus here on earth,yet,as puzzling as this may sound:we don't have to. He is revealed to us each of us through the Bible.We meet Him there.
There is no other way to find Him. If we look elsewhere we will not find Him. He is not in the writings of Confucius. We can study the Koran until the pages fall to pieces,and come up emptier than before,as He is not there.
No religion reveals Him. We cannot know Him through the religion of man
. Only by getting into the Bible,the Word of God, can we know Jesus. Within it's pages,we meet Him. Within it's pages,the Person of Jesus unfolds before us like that of a beautiful garment,priceless beyond words. The tenderness of love by which He loved us, giving His own life so ours may be saved is revealed there in the pages of His Word.
The cross He died on and the victory He gained for us over sin,over sickness,over the devil is there. The details of this amazing victory spills forth within these two short scriptures. Colossians 2:15 ,
"And having spoiled principalities and powers,he(Jesus) made a shew of them openly,triumphing over them in it."
Then 1 John 3:8 tells us what Jesus did a bit differently,"...For this purpose the Son of God was manifested (made visible), so that he might destroy[annul;reduce to nothing] the works of the devil."
What are the works of the devil? Well,we are,or have been, the receivers of these works: sin,sickness,disease,lack,poverty,fear,hopelessness,separation from God eternally. Does any of this fit you? It sure did me. But God has more for us. Much more.
He will only give it through Jesus. Jesus is the only Savoir. Jesus is the only way.
God in His grace wants to lift us out of satan's dominion,and transfer us into the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus died to give you life eternal,which begins now. Jesus died to give you victory in every area of your life. Jesus died to make you fresh and new inside and out.
Atheists say they don't believe,but how can we say we choose not to believe in someone or something that's unfamiliar to us? And how can we say, "I don't believe" in a book which we aren't even vaguely familiar? Don't even lawyers research the evidence on both sides before they present a case? I don't know about you,but I always take a look at what I'm choosing not to believe. How do we make a wise choice,if we don't even know what we're choosing against--if it's only something vague and shapeless in our mind? Even in battles of war,or in sports there is this saying,"Know your enemy." And it is a wise choice to look at Jesus closely before choosing against Him,as He unlocks the gates of heaven for each one of us. He is the only way.
The Bible tells us,"I(Jesus) am the Way,the Truth and the Life;no man cometh unto the Father but through Me."
All is available to us through Him. Nothing is available without Him. Here and now God is making His appeal to you. It is not His will that anyone perish. It is not His will that you should remain sick,or broken or without.
It's His will to save you,to free you, to delive you. And He wants to do this for you today. He wants you to know that time is almost up. The Acceptable Year--the time allowed for salvation has almost run out.
The Most High God wants you to know that now is the day of Salvation. Not tomorrow or the next day. None of us,not even you,knows what tomorrow brings. And the Jesus you meet will be as real as if he walked into the room where you're seated and straight up to you. In fact,he will be more real than that of a vision. A vision is an experience which becomes a memory,fading in time. But, when he reveals himself to your spirit through His Word, and you continue in His Word,he becomes steadily and increasingly real,more so than any vision. I have seen him,and do see him from time to time,but I would still be as spiritually strong if I didn't. Get to know Jesus in the pages of His Word for it is the Word that gives us life.
Get to know Him today, in the day of grace. Salvation waits for no man.
But you may be asking,"Hey! what happened to Chuck?" So I'll tell you.(I really wasn't going to end this without doing so).
Chuck was one who, unlike my mama and many others, did not see Jesus here on earth in a vision. But Chuck knew Him through the pages of the Bible and Chuck is with Him now.
If I knew then what I know now. If I knew Jesus like I know Him now,this story may have a different twist to it. But,as it was,we lost Chuck at the end of a dark year,in December,just days before Christmas. Along with the great sense of loss,I felt the pain of defeat,as if I had failed him.
If only I had known more about faith! If only I had known how to pray and get answers each time! If only...If only...If only.
I went before the Lord,broken and humble,and I poured out my heart to Him. I remember my exact words. I said,"Well Lord,Chuck's gone,but You know that because he's there with you." Then I added,"What now?"
And He answered me with one short sentence,"Your testimony will show them."
TO BE CONTINUED...