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As I look back over the years, I feel that my journey towards the Kingdom of God began the day I made a decision to tithe. I had read a Catholic Bulletin article which featured a witness by a couple who had responded to God's promises on tithing. They spoke of the number of blessings they had received; how they were able to keep their bills paid on time, etc. As I read the article, the idea appealed to me. I thought I could certainly use blessings and it would be nice not to have any bills hanging over my head all of the time. So, I began to tithe and found after a short time that everything in that article was true. I had received a better job with better pay; my bills were paid on time, and I didn't seem to have many; I often found things on sale that I would otherwise have paid full price for. I felt good about contributing money to worthy causes and generally my financial situation was 100% improved. This was my idea of blessings" and all of it was quite exciting to me! It never occurred to me at the time that "blessings" could mean anything but material advantages. Certainly, it never occurred to me that it might involve anything in the spiritual way. In fact, it never occurred to me I needed anything spiritual. I had always thought of myself as a rather good person.
Although at the time, I didn't understand all that began to happen to me, from today's vantage point. I can see a little more clearly what happened in my life. Jesus, in His kindness, let me enjoy outward signs of blessings, but at the same time began convicting me. At the time, I had never heard of "being convicted", but now know that is exactly what happened. Jesus began to deal with me inwardly; with my soul, my mind, and my emotions; all of which, I am aware now, were in great need of healing. He reminded me my soul had a sin on it I had never confessed, had forgotten and long ago shoved to the back of my mind. He showed me my conversation and attitudes were not always charitable; and He showed me that honesty was not one of my virtues. Emotionally, I was immature, irresponsible to a point, held many resentments, and was filled with fears and anxieties.
Facing all of this began to bother me and for the most part made me feel pretty miserable. Sleepless nights, something I had never experienced before, became part of my life. In addition, things began going wrong in some other areas of my life. There was quite a long period of time when I felt quite confused, unhappy, and very much alone. I was unsure of what was happening to me or where to turn for help. I didn't know of any prayer group that might give me help, or of anyone else who might have experienced what I was experiencing. I know now, of course, that the closer Jesus tried to draw me to Himself, the more uncomfortable I became. It was the natural reaction of me, a sinful person, meeting Jesus, who was all goodness, and feeling the pressure of His conviction.
I remember being in this state for some time. One evening, in my deepest depression, I simply surrendered, not consciously to anyone. I remember the feeling of relief. It was the first night I slept the entire night through in a long time. Still, I didn't realize, as I do now, that that night I had experienced the forgiveness of Jesus and that I had met Him on a personal basis. I had never heard anyone talk about meeting Jesus personally, so I didn't know that this was possible, or that that is what happened. But I did know that something different had happened to me that night, and I didn't forget it. Sometime later, I read an article in which was stated, "Only a soul knows what God has done for it." I could identify with that statement as I knew that I was a soul who did!
It was only a short time later that I did realize I had been personally touched by the hand of Jesus. Still feeling a bit confused, I awakened one night and began crying. That night Jesus sat on the bed with me and consoled me. His presence was as real as if I could see Him physically. I knew I was not alone, and I gained tremendous amount of strength from this experience.
About that time, Jesus brought friends into my life who started me reading the Bible. Two readings in the Bible were particularly meaningful to me at the time; Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains a grain of wheat, but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit." (John 12:24) I clung to this verse for a long time as it helped me to understand what I was experiencing. I began to see that I had to die to the person that I was, that I was being changed, and that I was beginning to bear fruit. I began to feel freedom from many fears I had. I began to feel less self-centered and more concerned about others; looking for ways to help them. I began to do volunteer work in a hospital; I started to help with CCD classes at church, and I began attending a Bible study. Even my friends commented on the change in me. The other bible verse was "You know me through and through." (Psalm 139) I was happy that someone understood exactly what I was struggling with.
Today, Psalm 103 has become of particular interest to me because I believe it summarizes exactly what happened in my life. "Bless Yahweh, my soul, and remember all His kindness In forgiving all your offenses; in curing all your diseases; in redeeming your life from the pit; in crowning you with love and tenderness; in filling your years with prosperity; in renewing your youth like an eagle" I picture my past as a deep pit I was in, and that Jesus helped me climb out, however slowly, that for a long time I stood, unsteady, on the rim of the pit amazed at what was happening; that I slowly began to walk away from the pit with the gentle prodding of Jesus; and that today I am walking away from it a little faster and with a great deal more steadiness!
It has been years since I began struggling and suffering. In many ways, I am still struggling. Only recently I complained that Jesus wasn't answering my prayers, at least not as I expected them to be answered. Shortly thereafter, I spoke with Jesus about my present circumstances and received a simple, but encouraging answer, "Keep your eyes upon me!"
Space doesn't allow me to share all that Jesus has done in my life, but I appreciate the opportunity to share how He changed me and worked in my life. It also gives me the opportunity to publicly give thanks and praise to God our Father for sending Jesus into my life; to Jesus for granting me freedom of Spirit; for His continuous gentle prodding to get me to do things I would otherwise never do, and for His tender loving care.
Praise and thanks to both for sharing their Holy Spirit!
New Life Charismatic Renewal Ministry
|6253 Penn Avenue South, Richfield, MN. 55423|
|Phone and Fax: 612-243-9411|
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