A Peace At A Time

A Peace At A Time

Introduction

 

 

The following testimony reveals my “Near God” experiences and my solid “Now God,” experiences which give me an unshakable, secure freedom in a loving relationship with God.

Where have I been all my life? How had life’s meandering path brought me to this place a small, dreary town of four hundred people, at the foot of a mountain range in Southern Wyoming? Not enough people here to fill a small apartment complex in the city where I had lived for fifteen years. Not the “Life in the West” of youthful vision. My heart whispered, “When you spend your life following other people’s expectations your own misguided judgment, lust, and ego, buffeted and tossed like a rudderless boat, you get lost.” In my world, people were constantly thwarting God’s plan, believing all the while that this was life, each one struggling to gain control and direction in their lives.

The “cowboy” of my dreams had cut a deep hole in my heart, and although we were still married, he was not in my life. I had placed him on an ice floe and pushed him out to sea. His departure became a stimulus for my seeking and then finding life God’s way.

I settled into my lodge pole pine chair, cuddling in the green and burgundy afghan Mother had crocheted for me. I had a pencil and legal pad in hand, intending to construct the outline of a book. A book was emerging in my head, not the great historical novel of youthful dreams, but the history of my life and rebirth into a life in Christ.

I could not write anything that night; instead I spent time in prayer, asking God how to witness about my life in Christ. I was too new to Christianity and believing and I could not reference anything I said, felt, or experienced using scripture, in–depth interpretation, or definite knowledge of the Bible. I was just beginning to read the Bible. Yet I had this powerful urge to tell of the peace on the other side of the chasm that separates us from God.

The answer to my prayer was not long in coming. A few nights later, I was awakened at one a.m. with energy and purpose, my head exploding with ideas. I sat down at the computer and began to outline chapters. I wrote a foreword and began the first chapter. The words came almost faster than I could type. Three hours later, exhausted, I stumbled back to bed.

In the morning, approaching the computer with coffee in hand, I hesitantly called up the nights work, reading words I knew were written with a divine direction. Convinced my testimony had value, I knew God would give me the confidence and skill to finish the story. Even though I was a new Christian, I knew my entry level testimony would speak to others. God could work through me if I was willing to make myself available to simultaneously do the work of growing in Christ, exposing my life honestly, and learning while writing.

In June 2002, I had begun to write a book with the working title I Am My Own White Knight. I began reading this earlier effort in a surreal state of mind, as if reading someone else’s work. I was stunned by the sardonic, cynical words and thoughts “she” had written and was saddened to the point of tears. She struggled to move everything forward perfectly in her own world without the benefit of two-thirds of the Holy Trinity. That writer was constantly discontented, angry, frustrated and in plan-and-control mode. Yet she was not without value: I could use the old me to convey to a potential audience how far God had brought me at almost warp speed.

My heart and my body bear a silent testimony to the scars many of us carry; the loss of a child, miscarriage, divorce, automobile accidents, cancer, failed projects, betrayal, unholy alliances and most important, the self-inflicted pain of ego-driven decisions. It is a daily amazement to me I spent over forty years in a self-made wilderness because I refused, missed or ignored the message of salvation at every opportunity. I did not understand who Jesus was and did not see that he, the Holy Spirit, and the word of God were the missing pieces in my life.

Now I have the pieces, and I will never let them go. I can look back on my life, with all its painful effort, and thank God for putting me back into the fire all those times until I learned to praise him for the opportunity of trial. I now have the life that is available only through God’s sacrificial gift to his children, Jesus Christ, the promised messiah. My prayer is God will speak to you through my testimony and send you seeking your own salvation.

A Peace At A Time

Author’s Mission and Purpose

 

Having searched the file drawers for the notes written by that frustrated old self, I sat staring at the content of the aborted book, I Am My Own White Knight. The night rain in the valley was falling in a steady Seattle kind of mist, and the fragrance of wet sage blended with the aroma of fresh-brewed coffee. I poured a cup and settled back into my chair to review that first attempt to write a book. I intended to write about how heavy the burden of “Lord Over All” is, for those of us who believe we are chosen to carry it. I had looked down on born-again Christians as phonies who would not take responsibility for their lives. I denied anyone could really know they had an eternal relationship with God, without working for it. Each time God was calling me to right relationship my ego and pride said no to the invitation.

I meant White Knight to be penned in bile, a shining example of my sarcasm, to prove to a literary audience that a tough and proactive stance must be taken at every turn in order to make life work. I would explain how we are forced to spend precious energy designing our own moral code to align with each decision that comes across our desks. Later I learned it takes all one’s pride, arrogance, ego, anger, and energy spent minute by minute to justify our ego driven actions to try to make life work. I was defined and accepted by my perceived strength, take-charge attitude, and ability to handle crisis, anyone’s crisis. I lived my life as the combined holographic perception of other people. I guarded who I deeply desired to be by pushing my dreams into the dark corner where I could visit them. I told myself that someday when I had met all the needs around me I would have time for my dreams. By setting them on a shelf, I could also avoid ridicule, vulnerability, and loss of control, keeping my persona of strength. I believed my purpose in life was to solve every problem brought to me and to be the trauma center for those who laid their brokenness at my feet, saying “What would you do?” I honestly thought I had to answer.

I had never read another person’s testimony. What made me think I could write mine or write anything to reach others? God was moving in a mighty way in my life, clearly saying, “I gave you a gift of communication and called you to witness for me. Your gift was not intended for your destructive attempt to control your existence, or to spew your poison into the minds of others.” God had reached me in his perfect timing, as I was about to use my gift to, once again, run amuck in the world. He promised to be with me as I stepped out to talk about my transforming experience. It was six a.m. when I walked out onto the deck for a few minutes of morning air and sounds and then back to bed hoping to reclaim a few of the missing hours of sleep.

My acceptance of Jesus as the Lord of my life on September 27, 2003 and the birth of my real connection to God were meteoric events. God picked me up and shook me so powerfully and taught me so rapidly who he was, and what he wanted from me that it still staggers me. At the writing of this piece of the book, it is five years since I found the only one to trust without question to be there for me. The peace, unfailing love and completeness are the gifts of relationship that can never be equaled in any human experience. I am writing this book because God is calling me to do so. I do not consider myself an instantaneous theologian. I write under God’s direction, believing my testimony will ignite a spark in one or more hearts to claim relationship with Jesus Christ and secure their own eternal future with God.

Once we know Christ, we must share our testimony; in hope of reaching others who are ready to lay down the burden of self-direction who wrongly believe being a good person and doing good works are all one needs to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Those who believe they have an intellectual and therefore, by their own definition, superior understanding of God and his inspired word; those with no understanding of the Holy Trinity or knowledge of right relationship with God through Jesus Christ; those who know the Bible must be important but cannot understand or read it and are frustrated with their inability to access the information; those who think they must have a human leader standing between them and God; and those who consider Jesus just a good teacher of moral principle who died for his self-appointed cause.

I was there, with all those beliefs and more at varying points in my life, and without God’s merciful forgiveness at the moment of clarity, I would have missed my gift of salvation. Not only did he forgive me and say “This moment is the real beginning of your life”, but he willingly took my pride, arrogance, and all my transgressions, pain, and misguided thoughts and deeds away forever. I was set free of all that baggage, and it was freeing and frightening just like a physical birth, when you are ripped from the dark into light and air, cleaned up, wrapped in a blanket, and delivered to the one who loves and nurtures you and helps you grow.

For those of us who have said, “If I could just start over, be given a second chance”, we are looking for relationship with the living Jesus Christ. We are looking for the true and only path to God. We want to be renewed in spirit, to have that second chance, but we want it on our terms. So we search one philosophy after another looking for the one that will give our interpretation of what God offers but with us structuring the deal.

A personal relationship with Jesus Christ with all its wondrous blessings and secured future is ours for the asking, but on God’s terms. God created us, and we are his. When we humbly surrender ourselves to have a relationship with him, it can only be on his terms: he owns the deal. True Christianity requires complete surrender. There are many false teachers and idols ready to serve up their style of “path” to God, but there is only one God and one way to eternal life. God is the Father who truly knows what is best for his children. We cannot make a better plan for our lives than God has planned for us. There is even a plan for those of us who have wandered around in the wilderness of pride until we are due for an appointment with the Office of Social Security.

This book is not offered as a guide, a structure, or a series of tests you can take that will map out a conclusion about your life. Some chapters are a reflection on how close God was all through my life, how many times I missed the call to real relationship with God, until in his second-or-third-best but perfect timing the scales fell from my eyes. Other chapters recount my salvation experience and my new life in Christ.

This is not a book containing a compilation of case studies charting people’s lives. That type of book tends to send us speed-reading with purposeful effort to find a box with a solution into which we can fit our own life. And when we don’t find an exact match with ready solutions attached, we are disappointed and probably miss any real message the author had to offer.

I offer no tables, comparative charts, or statistics from which to define yourself. This is fallout from one life. I have no educational degrees with which to dazzle and amaze you. I am no self-proclaimed expert, religious leader or guru: just a woman who believed for fifty-nine years that building personal power and using it to control and direct people and circumstances would bring accomplishment and success. In the end, I finally discovered that personal power is a lie from hell. Thank you God, for not allowing me to be highly successful at anything I took on, because that would only have reinforced my “self-made person” theories. I cannot quote scripture or preach the paint off the walls, but with God’s leading I can convey the message of how the power of transformation feels when it happens and as it grows. My hope is that these pages will connect the dots for some others who may suddenly see, hear and believe how critically important it is to choose and follow Christ.

Coming home to God through his precious Son, Jesus is not an event with a beginning and end. It is not something we do in an emotional moment swept along with crowds of people trying to suddenly assuage a guilty past. It is not a stopping point but a deeply personal passage through an invisible framework with no turning back and no hesitation. It is personal commitment and surrender on a scale that permanently teaches us what those words mean. You will not want to go back; instead, you will change so drastically from the inside out it will both terrify you and make you completely secure. When we slip up or backslide and scramble in fear of defeat to get back on track we know we are safe because we have God’s promise that he will never forsake or leave us.

Our first priority becomes our relationship with our Father, his Son and the Holy Spirit who comes to live in us and become the compass in our lives. It is relationship we need, intimate, personal, one on one, lost in love, right relationship with the one who knows everything about us and loves us in spite of ourselves. To surrender our lives to God through Jesus Christ causes us to walk past what pathetic little we have managed to scrape into a pile and call our accomplishments and possessions, to step into a world of a continuing supply of all our needs (not necessarily wants) to fulfill God’s plan for our lives. A life committed to Christ, gives us incredible freedom to become the persons we were meant to be, and in our deepest recesses, the persons we always wanted to be.

We now have real “Choice”, choice between living in the truth of intelligent sovereign design or dying by swimming in the juice of our limited intelligence. If we want to “use our own brains”, we must use them and our hearts to connect to the real power source, the God who created us, in a deep personal relationship through his son Jesus Christ. It does not matter what man made “church structure” you now belong to, you are still in need of personal relationship with God through Christ, as God defined it in his word. Christ defined the “Church” as, who so ever will follow me. Christians are believers in Christ as savior and Lord of their lives, who live by God’s word.

The energy it takes to constantly be in charge of designing, guarding and maintaining the ever changing schematic of our own lives, will leave us exhausted, bitter, and frustrated with ourselves and others. This secular world and our own human nature are designed to destroy us. And until we understand, and in humble surrender seek the gift of salvation by asking forgiveness and turning to Christ, we will struggle in pain, fear, frustration, bitterness and self-centeredness, until the end of our physical lives when we are judged by God, only then realize to what end our stubborn, baseless rebellion against our creator has brought us. It will then be too late to receive his Grace and mercy.

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