God was calling me and the next Sunday morning, with legs shaking and tears flowing, I marched to the front of the church to tell my pastor that I wanted to get saved.
I don't remember when my mother made the same decision but I know that a while later we were baptized together.
However, at the age of seventeen, drawn away by my own lusts and rebelliousness, I turned away from the God I had committed myself to and went in my own direction. I read a lot too and was always searching for another way. What about reincarnation? What about Transcendental Meditation? What about Edgar Cayce and séances, tarot cards, Buddha and all the gods other people worshiped?
So, in an attempt to find a way to my creator that pleased ME, I looked into many other things.
During this time in my life, I made a huge spiral downward. I had lost what I should have trusted--to look for what I already had. It was during this time in my life I made choices that have followed me ever since and affected my life and that of my children also.
When I was twenty-eight, I went to a Christmas banquet my family had at my uncle's home in Lexington. Another one of my uncles (Anthony) had brought his guitar and I asked him if I could sing a song for him that I wrote. It was a pretty song, I thought--one of those sad, broken-hearted songs written in a minor key that young girls might cry to as they listened.
After I finished, he told me it was pretty and then he asked if he could sing one for me. He sang a song about Jesus. And it was a song that bothered me very deeply.
I have written songs from a young age and I could not get over the fact that his song meant something and mine meant nothing in comparison. I came under conviction so strong that one day, while I was at my desk at work, a girl who I knew was a Christian just walked by me and I began to cry.
Finally, one day, I gave up my rebelliousness. I was driving home from work when I began to beat my right fist on my steering wheel and say, "Okay, God, Okay! I was so sick of my sin. I did not have to say any prescribed prayer or promise perfection or even make any vows about giving up certain things I did that were not good for me. I just recognized Jesus as Who He said He was. I knew what He did for me and I believed it. I don't think I ever really stopped believing it. But what I did do was give up my rebellious heart to Him. I gave Him the okay to do with it what He wanted. I admitted I couldn't do it on my own. I knew I needed the blood He shed for me to cover my sins. I knew I needed the power of a risen Savior, the One who conquered death, to conquer death in me.
The change in my heart was immediate--just like when I was seven years old.
I walked in my home and announced to my husband and kids that things were going to change. They did. I immediately went under extreme spiritual attack. I found out about things that had been going on under my own roof that I would never have guessed. As a new Christian, with the help of my pastor, his wife and a secular psychologist, I tried to put my family back together--not understanding that the problem was deep spiritual wickedness. I did not know about those things. Frankly, I thought the person in my family who needed help had mental issues because what they had been involved in was incomprehensible to me. I was twenty-eight years old with the spiritual understanding of a teenager raised in a Baptist church. (I don't mean to put anyone down by that last statement but I do think it is a significant fact.)
But I was in a Pentecostal church now and a preacher from New York (a young man who was close friends with our pastor) visited our church. After the service when we were all shaking his hand, a funny look came over his face and he asked if he could talk to me for a minute after everyone left. That's when he told me that God had given him a message for me. I felt honored that this man of God was telling me that God had something to say to me! I clung to that message for so long that I will never forget his exact words. "Stay sweet in the Lord and your husband will be saved." (My pastor told me later that he had never heard of his friend having a message for anyone before which even increased the validity of what happened to my mind.) I believed the message to be from God. I honestly thought I was doing the right thing for my family. So, for nine years, I gave myself to "fixing" something not in my power to fix. The psychologist bragged on me for being able to keep my family together. She said that now that secrets were out in the open, we could all heal. She said the best thing for a certain member of my family to see was that they did not cause the break up of a marriage and that we were getting help.
So for those nine years, I worked to protect, heal and save my whole family and I tried so hard to "stay sweet in the Lord."
It was as close to hell on earth as I have ever been.
One of the reasons I wanted to talk about this is because I know there are others out there who have listened to psychologists and had messages given to them from people claiming to be prophets.
Be very careful.
I believe in having faith and I do believe God gives messages through others and I even believe that message given to me so many years ago could really have been from God. However, I let the message mean more to me--say more to me than it was meant to. I let it mean to me what I thought it meant instead of studying the Bible to find my answers. I listened to a psychologist who I would not ask the time of day now. (Well, maybe the time of day is the only thing I would ask from her now.) I know now that there are things in this world that no amount of psychological therapy can help--no amount of medication can help and no amount of effort on my part can help if the person I'm trying to help does turn their life over to God.
There are things only God can help.
Because of my ignorance, I placed an innocent life in the proximity of someone they should never have to be close to again. And you know where my ignorance came from?
The day I began making choices when I was seventeen that would lead me away from God is the day I chose ignorance. It was when I chose to put myself and my future family through horrible things. The day that I began making choices that would lead me away from God is the day that I began to plant terrible seeds in my life.
Those seeds eventually turned into a garden that poisoned many I loved.
I am so glad that God has let me plant new seed and enabled me to harvest better crops. But oh, how I wish I could un-grow some of the seed I planted. Now, it is to a magnificent God I give the glory for healing, for restoration and for the life He has blessed many times over.
And I end this with a prayer: May this speak to someone who is wavering or close to giving up. May these words help them hang on to a God who is better than any psychologist or medication--who knows more about them than the wisest of men. And may this help keep someone else keep from growing a garden they will live to regret.