Stone cold dead, buried beneath a load of sin. That's what we were when He met our souls and said, "Live!" How can sinful man stand before an Holy God and not be consumed? We stand in God Himself, Who paid the debt we owe for sin, in that Jesus Christ became sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." II Corinthians 5:21
I was 37 years old when the LORD began pressing hard on my soul. It was then that I began to hate the prison cell of sin and death I was stuck in. I was in darkness. I was alone. I was in trouble. I thought about ending my life, but I was too much of a coward.
It was then that I found myself reading God's Word, the Bible. It was then that I heard a small voice within my soul, a voice I had never heard before, calling me to wake out of sleep. The words were spoken to my soul by the Preacher, the LORD Jesus Christ. His words were the key that unlocked that impenetrable iron door. I was a prisoner all my life in that small prison cell, and I didn't even know it. He came to me and stood right outside my cell door. I realized that there was life and light beyond, somewhere out there, when He spoke to me. He called me. He commanded me to come forth, and I willingly arose. His Voice was music to my ears.
I had traveled a long distance to visit my parents on that Thanksgiving Day. I was a wild, self-centered, toxic maniac of a person. I began indulging myself in my latest complaints, telling mom and dad all the terrible things that had happened to me and how I really was in trouble this time. My mother calmly said, "Let's see what the Scriptures have to say about it."
What? Read a book? Read the Bible? How...uncool.
I was mad. Really mad. I said, "What is so great about the Bible? Why is everyone always talking about the Bible?" Mom answered by saying, again, in a very calm tone, "It's the Word of God".
I was weak and too distressed to fight, so I sat down on the sofa and picked up the Bible that was there on the table. The book fell open to Matthew Chapter One.
Silently, the Preacher slid the key into the lock on the prison cell door.
I read strange-sounding names and incomplete sentences, "...Judas begat Phares and Zara of Tamar...Aminadab, Obed, Zorobabel.." This seemed very foreign to me, very weird.
But in that long list of strange names were some names I recognized, like, "David the king begat Solomon..." and "Joseph, the husband of Mary..." I felt a distant familiarity.
"Clunk!" The Preacher turned the key. One deadbolt pin was loosed.
Then I read, "...Abraham to David, David to the carrying away into Babylon and the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ." I began thinking that this is truly amazing. All these men, all these families, all these generations throughout all time somehow fell into three groups of 14 generations each, ending precisely with the birth of Jesus? My heart seemed to stand still at this thought. So, everything in time is somehow planned? This couldn't be mere coincidence, surely. But who had the power to plan such a thing?
"Clunk!" Another deadbolt cylinder released.
Continuing on in Matthew One, I read a beautiful story about another world, a world so different from my world. There were holy things in this other place. There was a young woman, pure and chaste, who would have a child "formed" in her "womb". The Spirit of God was to be the man she would "know". Such gentle, discreet language brought tears to my eyes, for I was only accustomed to saying and hearing coarse, vulgar words in this regard. God's Word was beginning to break my heart of stone.
The child in her body would be placed there, miraculously, by God. This child would be formed by God in a unique, special way. This was how God would come to us here on the earth. He would be"born of a woman". Does that mean that Jesus is GOD?
I was gasping for air. I felt as though I was being choked. I felt intense shame and exhilarating exurberance, all at the same time. You mean, God says that having a baby is good? Then why do people hate it so much? (long pause) It seems as though He designed it. He must approve of it. He even endured being formed as a baby in a woman's body Himself...(long pause)
That means, having a baby must be...a very good thing...Did they lie to me about this?
O my, what have I done?
No...NO! I dare not think such thoughts! No! This betrays my coolness, my culture. There are no children allowed in prison. No husbands, no wanting to be married, no wife, no family. And especially, no love. In my world, there is only tearing apart and being torn apart. This is the only conduct and calling in my elite world.
And yet, my heart was intrigued by Mary. I considered her. She wasn't like me. She was good and free. She talked to an angel sent by God. I knew this, because I had received Christmas cards all my life from estranged relatives, who otherwise, never said a word about Jesus. Their cards had pretty pictures on them of camels and the wise men and the little baby with a halo around his head. And they were dazzling, with silver glitter pasted to the snowy hills behind the manger scene. I always considered all this to be something of a quaint myth, a fairy tale - and so did everyone I had ever met. But here in the Bible, there was something quite different going on. This wasn't anything like those Christmas cards.
I read that Mary had a man, her "betrothed". This incredible man actually believed that child "conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost". Wouldn't he beat her up and send her to an abortion clinic, like every man I had ever "known"?
I thought in my heart, "No! This child could never be destroyed! That could never happen! This child is a Special Person, Who cannot be destroyed by any man. He was formed and protected by God. He IS God and could never be aborted. No man formed Him and no man could destroy Him." Could it be, that God placed the faithful, believing Joseph there to protect Mary and her baby? I never knew a man like Joseph. He was gentle and kind. He actually...believed God!
Oh, what a story! Read on!
It was then, in the midst of all these thoughts and questions, that I read the words that would change my life forever. It was Matthew 1:21 " thou shalt call His Name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins."
In my soul (a part of me I never believed was real) I thought, "HIS people? Who are His people? Jesus has people that are His? Could I be...His?"
"Clunk, clunk, clunk!"
The Preacher turned the key again and the cylinders dropped into perfect alignment. The bolt was loosed. The door swung open. My soul arose and stepped into the Light of Day. I didn't know it at the time, but I was being born again by the Spirit of God. The LORD placed an Holy Seed in the womb of my soul and Christ began to be formed in me! I have learned that He will protect His Own Spirit in my soul forever. I kept on saying to my mom, "It's true about God. There is a God and His Name is Jesus! They have been lying to me all these years!"
They? Who are they? Well, everybody. Everything. The whole world lied and I lied to myself in believing the liars. It's as though I had a basket full of useless things. I gathered all this stuff in my big basket all my life. I was holding on to all that stuff. I fought to get it and I would kill to keep it. Suddenly, it was too heavy and it started to stink. The smell was so bad, I finally just let go and that old, stinky basket toppled down the hill and over the cliff, just like those pigs in Mark 5. All the things I valued, collected, esteemed - all of it was useless and vile. It all kept me in my prison cell. The power of God alone, through the blood atonement of the LORD Jesus Christ, could break the enchantment of all the evil that I loved.
The thing that amazes me most is, I was happy, even overjoyed, to see that foul basket fly away. For the first time in my life, I saw Jesus as a glorious Person. He wasn't like those silly paintings and those awful statues. He wasn't anything like the guy in all those movies and Broadway plays. And the Bible isn't a dull, dusty relic to be studied by calculating scholars and eggheads. No! The Bible is the Living Word of the Living God! Suddenly, I understood that the Bible is the ONLY Book in the whole world that has real meaning.
Since that day, the LORD has taught me so many wonderful things about Himself. His Name is the Word of God! All His power and goodness and glory, grace, comfort and love are to be found in His Word. The Bible is a mighty weapon in the Hand of the Spirit of Christ. God's Word, made comprehensible in my soul by the Spirit of God, was a sharp sword that cut that foul basket out of my hands. Only then, could I lift up my empty hands and shout, "Great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of Thee!"
And so you see, the LORD came to me. In one day, in one hour, He was pleased to come to me to give me the gift of faith. That appointment was made long, long ago, before the world began. He was faithful to come to me at the appointed hour, thousands of years after the Father chose me. I know that I have been washed in His blood, because I believe everything He has said to me. Yes, my sin was enormous, but He knew the depth of it and removed it from me at the cross. Everything that could ever separate me from my Saviour was nailed to the tree.
LISTEN to the excellent sermon from Jim Byrd, "Why Christ Died At Calvary" (the link is above), and hear more about the great salvation Jesus has wrought for His Own people.
My soul is not alone anymore. I am now a married woman. The LORD is my husband and He has taken me away to live with Him forever. We live together in the city of Zion. I am secure in His love to me, for He told me that He will never leave me, and God cannot lie. Rejoice, O my soul, for "thy Maker is thine Husband". Isaiah 54:5
Finally, I pray that everyone who reads my testimony, with a heart's desire to know the LORD Jesus Christ, will receive the same blessing that was poured out upon me. Please hear me. Read God's Word for yourself. The LORD clearly tells us that "...faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God..." Romans 10:17
May the LORD richly bless you.
Mom's SongIn memory of Geraldine Holt Shea 1928-2008. I was with my beautiful mother when she went to be with...