There is no subject as precious to me as the story of how the God of the universe chose to entwine His life in mine. That truth is doubly amazing to me when I think of just how ordinary a person I am. My name is known by only a few hundred people. I was never a movie queen, and I didn’t make any scientific discoveries. I was not the first to do anything, or the best, or the fastest or smartest or prettiest. My testimony is of a Saviour Who chose to shower me with His love despite my having absolutely nothing to offer Him in return.
I met Jesus as Healer before I met Him as Saviour. When I was five years old I had an allergic condition that caused me to break out in hives all over my skin and mucous membranes. The doctor in our little Mississippi town couldn’t identify the allergen, but the medication he instructed my mother to give me made the itching and burning go away for a few hours at a time. My father was an Air Force Sergeant, and he travelled over the state doing military recruitment. My mother couldn’t drive a car, we had no telephone, and we lived in the country. One night when he was away from home, my problem attacked me with a vengeance, and it was then that my mother discovered that we had run out of medicine. In desperation Mother said, “Why don’t we ask Jesus to make you well?” I had heard of Jesus when I went to my grandmother’s church, and the Sunday School teacher said He loved children, so I knelt down next to Mother and repeated her words in the simplest of prayers: “Jesus, please make me well.” My skin stopped itching and burning, and I fell asleep. The condition never returned.
My family moved to Montgomery, Alabama, when I was ten years old. I was very shy, and I found it painful to be the “new kid” each time we moved. My younger sister Lyn was pretty and outgoing and always had lots of friends, and by comparison I felt lonely, ugly, and friendless. I kept a diary and wrote poetry and long, secret letters that I hid under my bed. Our parents gave us lots of love and involved themselves in our lives, but I don’t think they ever knew how sad I was inside. However, they made an important decision – one that would change my life. They began attending a little non-denominational church where the Bible was preached.
Mr and Mrs Brown taught the Sunday School class for my age group. They invited the class to a wiener roast at their house one night. Although I dreaded social occasions, my mother persuaded me to go. Mrs. Brown saw me standing apart from the other children, and she approached me and began to tell me about Jesus. I remembered that He was the One I had asked to make me well. In very simple words, she told me how He had come to earth and died on a cross and risen from the dead. I had known about Him, but I had not realized that He died for ME. She said, “He wants to be your friend,” and she told me how to accept Him as my Saviour. At that point I ran away from her and went to eat a hot dog. I pushed her words from my mind. No one could really want to be my friend!
When I was in bed that night, it seemed that a tape recorder was playing back the conversation with Mrs. Brown, word for word. Suddenly I understood! I realized that I was a sinner and that Jesus had died to take the punishment for my sins. I began to cry uncontrollably. To this day I can remember the feel of the hot tears rolling down the sides of my face and into the pillow as I was lying on my back in the bed. What a horrible thought that this perfect God-Man died for ME on that cross! But she had told me more. I did what she said and asked God to forgive me and to send Jesus to live in my heart. The experience of salvation takes many different forms, because God is so creative and personal with all His children. Some feel a quiet peace, some feel nothing at all. Some have a very emotional response. The apostle Paul saw a blinding light and fell to the ground. What really matters is the truth that God will “save to the uttermost” those who come to Him. (Hebrews 7:25) When Jesus came to live in me, He brought several buckets of tears – this time happy tears – and the cleanest, most heavenly sensation I have ever known. Here was a Friend Who would be with me forever! The next day I wrote it down in the papers under my bed, and that is how I can be precise about the date it happened. I became a Christian on March 20, 1955, and that day is still very special to me now, fifty-five years later.
In the years that followed, the Lord taught me how to walk with Him. My mother and sister gave their hearts to Him soon after I did, and we worshiped together at home and in church. Daddy didn’t come to Jesus until much later, after I was grown, but he was very supportive of his Christian family and never tried to hinder us. I developed a thirst for the Word of God that propelled me to study the Bible from cover to cover. I talked to Jesus and listened for His voice in my heart. In focusing on the Lord, I was able to overcome much of the crippling shyness that had marked my early childhood. I even won two speech awards in school, and I shared my faith when opportunities arose. I did continue to write poetry, and later wrote songs, always about Him. My mother was very musical, and she taught my sister and me to sing in harmony while she played the piano. Throughout our teen years Lyn and I sang regularly in church.
My high school years were spent in Tachikawa, Japan, where my father was stationed with the Air Force. A teenage girl named Yoko often came to my house to practice English, and I learned a little of her language too. I also told her about Jesus, and she asked Him into her heart. I will see her in Heaven one day. Many of the missionaries spent time at the little American church we attended. It was a real joy to work with them in the field as often as possible.
From earliest memory, I knew I would be a nurse when I grew up. I took care of my dolls and frogs and turtles and cats and played “hospital” when I was little, and at age eighteen I cemented the decision by enrolling in a baccalaureate nursing program. Caring for the sick is a very practical way to demonstrate the love of the Great Physician, and I really believe I was called to this type of service. It has been a privilege to nurture sick bodies and minds back to a healthy state.
During my college years, I’m sad to say, I was unfaithful to the Friend Who had given me so much. I had thought perhaps I was missing some fun by walking with the Lord. In actuality I substituted the artificial for the real. The Lord asked the question in Isaiah 55:2, “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?” The Holy Spirit called to me constantly, urging me to come back ‘home.’ When I finally returned to fellowship with Jesus, He welcomed me back with open arms. He blessed me with a loving husband and three beautiful children. He allowed me to care for the sick, lead Bible studies, and write a little music. I will always regret the years I wasted, but God has forgiven all my foolishness. Praise His name!
There is so much more I could write about God’s blessings in my life. Not everything has been easy, and I have made many, many mistakes. But God has been faithful, and I love Him more every day. He is absolutely dependable and is still the best Friend I have ever known. Although I remember the past and thank Him for salvation, I do not live in the past. God is faithful TODAY. He speaks to me daily through His Word and in my spirit, and He is as real and personal to me as my human family. One day I will see Him face to face, and that truth makes every problem seem so small. I have learned that God has very big arms. No one is too young, too old, too rich, too poor, too wise, too sinful or hopeless or imprisoned to come to Him and be made whole. There is NOTHING impossible for my God. If you have not met Him, He is waiting eagerly to hear from you. If you once were close to Him but have wandered away, He is calling you back home. Won’t you answer Him?