Finally Opening to Jesus

By Betty B. The telephone rang late one evening. It was our neighbor saying that they had found a house and were putting their house up for sale. They wanted us to know before the "For Sale" sign went up. I felt awful but what could I say. I thanked her for letting us know. The neighborhood was changing. Over the past year or so, one by one the "For Sale" signs had gone up and our neighbors had sold their homes and moved out. With each family leaving, I felt worse and worse. The last call left me feeling bereft and devastated. These were my friends and I knew that we wouldn't have much contact anymore.

The next day, I realized that I was feeling abandoned, without a friend in the world. My self-esteem was zilch and I considered suicide but knew that it was not an option. I yearned for God. But God seemed far away. I knew I had to do something. So I did the only thing I could think of to do. Aloud, alone in our living room, I said, "Okay God. I'm giving my life to you" and called around until I found some volunteer work to do.  Over the next several years I volunteered for Child and Family Services and later for the Homemaker Service which was actually a part of Child and Family Services. Over a number of years I tried to do what I thought God wanted me to do. I also became more active in our church.

Finally, my work with the Homemaker Service came to an end. Soon my church asked me to be on the Hunger Task Force that was being organized to educate our congregation to the realities of hunger in the world and to find ways to help alleviate it. My worldview at that time was "Yes, we need to help feed the world's hungry people, but only after we feed ours first." I went to the first meeting where I expressed these thoughts. One evening, between the first and second meeting, I suddenly was seeing, as through a porthole, a rice field with people in conical hats working in it and I knew with my whole being that I was seeing the world through God's eyes and that everyone was entitled to their fair share. My worldview had changed 180 degrees. I wanted to change the world, starting with my family. I wanted to feed them rice and beans, but of course they rebelled.

Then I had the worst month of my entire life, or so it seemed. I was not one to see the pastor about my troubles, but I kept having to go talk with him.  One day he asked me how come I was so involved in the world. I knew he was right but at the same time, I suddenly realized that that when I had given my life to God, it was just my outside-the-home life.  My home life was in chaos. At that point, I gave God my home life as well, and everything changed. Suddenly, the Bible, which hadn't made sense to me, suddenly opened up and became the most fascinating book in the world. I spent hours reading it and praying. I soon began to hear God loud and clear and I knew that my life had changed forever.

Still, I spent several years seeking people who knew "my language," as I thought of it. I met some wonderful spirit-filled people and enjoyed their friendship. Then I discovered some young people in my church that spoke "my language." They were part of the The Word of God community, and some wonderful friendships and relationships developed with these young people and their friends. One day we were invited to a dinner put on by The Word of God. It resulted in our becoming part of the community.

One Sunday, several years after becoming part of the community, we were at a prayer meeting at Pioneer High School. The group was singing a rousing chorus of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic." Suddenly I found myself crying out to God that I didn't want to be left behind. I was hearing God tell me that my salvation was in danger. I didn't know why. I asked around but nobody seemed to know either. I thought that maybe I should learn more about Jesus.  I tried reading the Gospels with this in mind but nothing happened.

Several months went by. Then my husband and I went to a denominational conference at Messiah College in Grantham, PA.  At one of the seminars, the pastor was telling how he was an illegitimate child, and I found myself sobbing and I couldn't seem to stop. Finally, a couple of people put their hands on me and I knew they were praying and I was finally able to stop sobbing. It was a very embarrassing experience. I talked with the pastor afterwards but he wasn't able to help.

Later, that summer, the Methodists were having their Aldersgate Conference in Kalamazoo, MI. The Rev. Francis McNutt (a former Catholic priest who had a healing ministry) and his wife were to be there and I wanted to hear them. So my daughter and I made arrangements to go on Saturday. We both enjoyed the conference but nothing spectacular happened. That evening, on the way home, I suddenly realized that the Lord was telling me that I was like an illegitimate child. I still didn't know why but decided I had better talk with our pastor. On the following Monday, I went in to see our pastor and told him my story. He listened carefully and then said that John 1:12-13 had come to mind—"But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." RSV

I finally knew that God was saying that I had never received Christ, though I knew I was filled with the Holy Spirit, and heard God speak, sometimes loud and clear. My pastor did not offer to pray with me. I went home knowing that if l was to receive Jesus, He would have to do it Himself because I didn't know how.

That afternoon, the sun was shining so warm and bright, I walked into my living room and suddenly realized that Jesus was coming up my walk. I couldn't see Him but I knew He was there. He came to the door and knocked and I opened the door and invited Him in. That is the story of how I finally received Christ into my heart.