Guest Article by my Mom
There I memorized some scripture, learned where the books of the Bible were located, was baptized at the age of accountability (according to the Baptist church).
The beginning of my 7th grade in school the family moved from Lompoc to the Orcutt area. My church then became the little Presbyterian Community Church, on the corner of Union and Pacific. I loved it, loved the young pastor, loved the sweet people there. My faith in God deepened.
I married a non-Christian at a very young age. Husband, Jack 6'2", 200 lbs was also very young. I was older than my mother when she married, older than both of my sisters when they married. I was 17 and I was pregnant and very embarrassed about being so. This dedicated Christian girl, pregnant!
In case you didn't know...I'm telling you this in case you don't know that God is truly a forgiving God and can still work through you for His good even if you have made a major mistake.
I was too embarrassed to continue going to my small church that I loved. But II Peter 3:9b says "The Lord is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but all to come to repentance". I thank God for His patience and His forgiveness.
I worked at being a good mother to two sons, born 16 months apart and became the wife my husband wanted me to be. That didn't include church.
I was 40 years old before I realized that, most definitely, life is just too hard without God. I am sure you know what I mean! I was invited, at about age 40, to a women's Bible study group. (Don't give up on inviting friends to church functions) This gathering was surprising to me in many ways. The group of women were so nice! I had worked with women who weren't so nice! The Bible I was loaned opened right to the many verses we were studying. I hadn't opened a Bible in many years. I felt as if God was saying to me "Jeanette, this is where I want you". This started my walk back to my Lord. The best decision of my life.
Praying for my husband...I started praying for my husband. I knew what a huge influence he had on our two sons. One Sunday in church my pastor (in Arroyo Grande at this time) asked "Is there anyone who will stand up and say, sincerely from the heart, 'I release you, Lord, to do whatever it takes to bring your specific loved one to God'" Knowing how dangerous this could be, I stood with just a few others and we were prayed for. Of course my specific loved one was my husband, Jack.
I didn't expect God to work...I didn't expect God to work quite like He did. Isn't that the way He is! Within weeks my husband's father got extremely sick, gangrene, in fact. In Arroyo Grande hospital he had surgery after surgery, skin graft after skin graft. He was on a ventilator at one point. A very sick man. My daily life turned into a constant "pick up mother-in-law in Nipomo, drive to Arroyo Grande hospital". We lived out in the country in the Santa Maria area at the time. This happened daily, for weeks and weeks. My Father-in-law was released finally, from Arroyo Grande Hospital but to Santa Barbara for rehabilitation for awhile. Then finally released to come home to Nipomo in a hospital bed with a permanent catheter and colostomy bag. Now my life was "try to help my mother-in-law learn to care for him" at the same time I was learning, learning things I would rather not have learned, like how to change a colostomy bag on my father-in-law.
Whatever it takes...I remember saying to my pastor as we walked down the hallway of Arroyo Grande Hospital together "When I said I release You, God, to do whatever it takes to bring my loved one to You, I didn't know it would be so hard. I knew my husband was watching me, watching how I cared for his father and step-mother. Between the two of them (mother-in-law and father-in law) we had lots and lots of doc appts. Some of you know how that is. But I knew God was working. What I didn't know was how long I would be praying for my husband to come to the Lord.
My older son actually came to the Lord before my husband.
(note: yes, that's me : )
Now to get back to my husband. Jack worked for the local telephone company as a cable splicer. One day, a few years later, when he was 53 years old, he was in an under ground manhole by himself. He told me that he heard a voice so powerful it would have knocked him to his knees if he hadn't been hanging onto something. That voice said "the Lord and Jeanette may have something planned that doesn't include you". Jack knew 'this something' was heaven. God, must have revealed that to him.
When Jack came home from work that night he was totally shaken, totally excited. He said he asked God 'what do you want me to do?' This voice replied "I want you to read about what Jesus did while here on earth and how He did it". Jack accepted the Lord then and started reading the Bible that very night. Jack said this 'God presence' came and stayed at his right shoulder (not in his heart because he had been an ag student and that didn't make sense to him). That presence stayed there for months, talking with Jack. But that is another story...
This voice talking to Jack was totally amazing to me. Totally different than anything I had heard about, read about. You see, God met Jack right where Jack was in a powerful way that he could understand.
When Jack accepted the Lord it was the happiest day of my life. For weeks we stayed up late into the nights, Jack asking 'God questions, Bible questions'. And I, surprising myself, with answers he could understand. That must have been from God.
This took 13 years of praying. You may have been praying longer than that for a loved one. This took influence from more people than me, that's for sure. It didn't happen at all like I expected. Don't give up praying for your unsaved loved ones. It could happen any day, in lots of different and unusual ways. Why did God speak to Jack and not your loved one? I don't know. I have prayed for God to speak this way to other loved ones. But that hasn't happened.
Right away I had thoughts of our Christian service together as a team. We would visit the sick, maybe join a group Bible study together? Well, that didn't happen either.
About three years later...But about three years later, Jack was diagnosed with pancreas cancer. In fact he was diagnosed on February 8th, our 38th wedding anniversary.
When Jack went to church the first time as one very happy Christian, God gave Jack a vision of heaven. Jack told me about the beauty he saw, the colors so bright they would seem to hurt your eyes, but they didn't, This totally surprised me, once again. Jack hung on to that glimpse of heaven as he got sicker. Jack died 4 months later, a miserable death but, knowing he was going to heaven.
What about healing? Yes, I prayed for healing. I prayed Luke 11:9a "Ask and it shall be given". I prayed, finally, Luke 22:42 "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me: yet not my will but Yours be done".
Why did God so powerfully speak to Jack, but not heal him? I don't know. But I do know that I am a stronger Christian, for having experienced this miracle with Jack. I am a stronger Christian for experiencing God's help thru my grieving process. Now wouldn't you think that after what I saw God do, I would have walked a perfect life? I am still making mistakes. But I thank God for His patience with me. I thank God for many answers to my prayers.
My younger son came to the Lord after my husband died. I'm reminded of II Samuel 7:18 "Who am I, Lord God, and what is my house that Thou hast brought me this far?"
I want to encourage you, don't give up praying for you unsaved loved ones. It could happen any day in surprising ways! I am so thankful that God saved my husband and my sons. Thankful that God loves me and He loves you, too. He loves us more than we can imagine. Keep hoping, keep trusting, never give up praying for those loved ones. Proverbs 3:5 says "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path." Keep praying for those you love.
God bless you.
Our greatest desire is...
for people to come to know God personally. The simple truth is that there is a God who created you and loves you very much. (Genesis 1:1) He gave us life and deserves our gratitude and love.