Testimony, Part One
Summer, 1972: It was a sunny summer day, the day I finally gave up to the nagging voice in my soul. A little voice kept calling my name. “Bette.” Whispering to me, reminding me, persuading me, cajoling me. Tch-tching me. Umm umm-ing me. Uhh uhh-ing me, too. Soothing me, urging me, pricking me, always nagging me.
For years the voice had waxed and waned, but it had never really gone away, ever since the day as a teenager in church I had told God I understood how to be saved, and yes, I wanted to be saved, and okay, okay, I’ll accept Jesus as my “saver.” Not really enthusiastic about it, I just said it and promptly forgot it.
I went to church weekly in those days, a Bible-teaching church, but one that taught that the miracle life of the apostles and New Testament Christians had died out and would only come back to reality in heaven. Dispensational theology, they called it. I wasn’t attracted by it, and soon after my father died in 1960, I dropped out of church.
I also dropped out of college in my first semester, to get married. Really, to get away from home, where my widowed mother seldom was present, and when she was, seldom was pleasant. So I got married, got a job, had two children, bought a home, had lots of responsibilities and no extra time to spend in church.
Weekends were full of housework and yard work and garden work. I had plenty to do and not nearly enough hours to do it in. Some years went by, responsibilities grew, the children grew, and I grew too. More and more miserable, that is.
So, as I washed dishes one sunny afternoon, looking out of the kitchen window and crying into the dish water, I finally gave up. The little voice of the Holy Spirit called my name again, as he had dozens of times before, and this time I said, “Lord, I’ve tried to manage my life my way for so long, and I’ve made a mess out of it. If you can help me, please come and manage my life for me. Jesus, be my Lord.”
The earth didn’t shake, but the strangest things happened in an instant. As I continued looking out of the window, I saw the grass get greener. The tall Eisenhower cannas, in full bloom beside my kitchen window, were brighter orange. The brown trunk of the pine tree in the middle of the back yard got browner. Nothing outside looked the same as it had a minute ago.
I dropped my dishrag into the sink and walked out into the back yard. I couldn’t get over it! The garden dirt was “dirt-ier,” the house bricks were “brick-ier,” the fruit trees were “tree-ier,” everything was new! The grass, the bushes, the flowers, the leaves, the weeds, the sky, the clouds, everything!
I had trouble walking, I felt so weird. I wanted to run, and jump, and twirl, and kneel, and fall flat on my face. I knew in that moment what the verse meant that said if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature — I knew that the trees and bushes weren’t new, I was new.
Was I saved before that? I don’t know. I had not been changed in any fundamental way earlier. I had mentally agreed that the Bible was true, Jesus was real, and that he could save me from my sins. But I hadn’t given him any real place in my existence otherwise.
Now I was changed from the inside out, and he had a decided place in my life. Jesus was now taking up a management position — Lordship — in my soul. I had just made Jesus both Savior AND Lord. Whew!