Excellent testimony - Victory over flesh yields much fruit for eternal life
Cheryl sat next to me in biology class, 10th grade. I was a sad, embittered young
person in contrast to Cheryl's contented, serene personality. She was
tall and lanky, with the look that many models had in the Fall of 1968.
I noticed at one point that Cheryl had been missing from school for a
while. Rumor had it that they had discovered a lump in her knee during
the routine school physical. Biopsy had concluded it was malignant. Her
leg was amputated just above the knee. I remember the horror I felt at
such news. Such a sweet person-what a toll I was sure it would take on
I couldn't have been more wrong. When Cheryl had healed sufficiently,
she was back in school, on crutches, her stump swinging-and a smile on
her face! Her unruffled demeanor baffled me. What was UP with this
girl, anyway? Throughout her months of cancer therapy, her
determination to stay upbeat was obvious-and puzzling.
Our sophomore year came to a close. Over the summer, Cheryl was fitted
with an artificial limb. But soon another malignancy was discovered. By
the Fall of 1969, she succumbed to cancer and died. Her funeral was
held at her home Church, and it was packed with students, myself
included. If I was baffled by Cheryl's contentment in the face of such
trials, I was totally confused by the apparent "rejoicing" at Cheryl's
death. Yes, there were tears; yes, I heard weeping. But Cheryl's Pastor
wore the hint of a smile on his face, as he spoke of Cheryl's
"victory" in Jesus. What?? Was this man nuts? Were all these people
nuts? Where was the victory in such a horrid death, at such a young
age, of someone so fine in character? I left Cheryl's funeral service
angry and confused.
By the Spring of 1971, I was more morose and self-pitying than ever
before. I still do not know who told me about it, but I heard of a
"revival meeting" being held at...Cherly's Church! I decided
once and for all I was going to figure out what made these people
"tick" and unravel their beliefs. Little did I know that God had "set
me up" and was ready to "ambush" my heart for Him.
The preacher said, "Do you feel as though nothing in your life is
working? That there is no meaning? All your hopes and dreams have
failed?" What kind of preaching is THIS! I thought to myself. Has
someone told him I would be there? I soon realized I needed to escape
that church as soon as the doors opened! As it happened, the Pastor
and the guest evangelist formed a 2-man gauntlet at the doors-you
didn't get out without a personal handshake. The Pastor grabbed my
hand in both of his, that penetrating smile searching my face. "Thank
you for coming tonight-did you enjoy the service?" Not one to back down
at any question, I stared at my feet and mumbled something lame like,
"Well, I have a lot of unanswered questions...." Looking back these
many years later, I laugh to my lack of knowledge regarding
evangelicals! "I have a lot of unanswered questions..."??? My goodness,
that kind of talk is music to an evangelist's ears! "Well, let's just
go in the back room and discuss some of these questions," said the
spider (aka, Guest Evangelist) to the fly (aka, Me).
This was 1971 and I was very anti-Vietnam. One of my "toughest"
questions was "If God is so good, how could something as awful as this
war occur?" The evangelist turned to James chapter 4: From whence come
wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts
that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to
have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye
ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may
consume it upon your lusts. I was nonplussed. What's this? An ANSWER?
From the BIBLE? Worse still-it made SENSE! Embarrassed that such an
"illiterate" could match what I felt was my mental prowess, I took a
deep breath and began firing questions. To my dismay, they were able to
effectively answer most straight from their Bibles. Finally, the
evangelist said, "Jan, if there really is a God, and He's as good as
we've told you He is, do you honestly believe He could do a worse job
of running your life than you have?"
Once again-I had no comeback. Fearful, I decided to give this God of
theirs a try. My prayer was something fairly non-committal. "God, IF
You are Who this people say You are, and IF You truly can forgive me
and give me a new start on life-THEN I ask You to come into my heart,
forgive me, and run my life from now on." Wham! The instant I prayed
that prayer, I knew-He DID exist, He DID love me, He DID forgive!
I would like to tell you I have walked faithfully with the Lord since
that day. It isn't true. Less than 10 months later, I threw in the
towel on God. So many things had gone wrong, I figured God must not
really love me. I purposefully set out to break all 10 commandments,
and for nearly 3 years I lived in raunchy sin and willful disobedience.
By the Fall of 1974, I had gone so far down even I was scared, so I
joined the Air Force in a weak attempt to straighten myself up. I was
due to ship out February 24, 1975. Over the Christmas holidays, some
former schoolmates invited me over to a small gathering. It had been
over 3 years since I had seen any of these classmates. I went. To my
complete disbelief, they had all become Christians in that time! And
would you believe, many of them also came to Christ because of Cheryl's
life testimony! While I tried to avoid the subject, the last time these
girls had seen me it had been ME talking to THEM about Jesus. Naturally
they assumed I was doing fine. When they asked, I broke down in tears,
and they gently led me back to Jesus in a recommitment of faith.
Cheryl's death led me TO Jesus and indirectly through others she
touched, she also led me BACK TO Jesus. Because of my faith, my two
children know Jesus...and one is safely Home with Him now.