A Little Girl Lost

Archive for the ‘memoir. spiritual warfare’ Category

Planting Seeds

Looking back over my life, I see God’s hand in every day, even before I knew Him.

Though I had made a profession of faith in my twenty’s, I was far from Christ. I felt I was drowning in a sea of personal sin I didn’t dare share with my Christian friends.
Fear of their judgement scared me in to my own private hell.

Then I went to a retreat where I heard Christians talk about their sins and God’s forgiving heart. My shell shattered and I cried out to Him and found freedom in the love and forgiveness He held for me. I made a promise then, “I’m going to tell everyone I meet about Jesus.” And I did. Friends turned away and “perceived enemies” became brothers and sisters.

Eight months later an accident severed my spinal cord. I came home weak and weary six months and nine days after my injury. My power wheelchair had one true asset then—it reclined. I withdrew from life, laid back and hid behind veiled eyes. I refused to face my future.

The cost was high in body, mind and spirit, but God’s blessings are phenomenal. In His infinite wisdom, He prepared the way. Earl had served as a hospital chaplain on a reconstructive surgery floor where many of the patients had a spinal cord injury. In rehab, the staff taught us how to take care of me at home. According to them, I would live to within five years of my natural lifespan if I had something to look forward to and got out of the house routinely.

Earl took me on nearly every pastoral visit and preachers meeting he went to, but I just leaned back in my wheelchair with my eyes closed. He encouraged me to keep a journal and try teaching Sunday school. He loved me even when I failed.

As I filled those roles with study and preparation, I learned more than I taught. I read the story about how David sinned but was a man after God’s heart.* Job lost everything yet said, “Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him.”** I began sharing my story of God’s faithfulness again and grew stronger in my faith each time. I wrote my brief story and passed it out as a tract to everyone who spoke to me.

While in a small group studying Steve Harper’s Devotional Life in the Wesleyan Tradition many years later, a friend pointed out my seemingly fearless sharing of my faith. I made light of it, “I just tell what God has done for me, but I’ve never led anyone to accept Christ.”

She said, “You may not have, but you have planted many seeds. You may never know until you get to heaven how many people are there because of your testimony.”

Those words have encouraged me to be bold as I tell my stories of His faithfulness to friends and strangers. Old and young. Churched and un-churched. In stores, in doctors offices or on the telephone with sales associates. Earl says, “Imagine that, Berta’s talking.”

Jesus tells us to make disciples. You too can plant and water to prepare hearts for God’s harvest. Trust Him and tell what He has done for you.

Paul wrote, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:6 NRSV).

In Christian Love,

Berta

*Acts 13:22 KJV
**Job 13:15 KJV
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Healing From the Inside Out

Abuse tainted my childhood and four years in the Navy taught me the ways of a sailor. Later, a failed marriage sent me spinning out of control. As an LPN, I got a job at Methodist Hospital (Memphis) where I worked afternoons and weekends to limit my drinking hours.

I had no self-worth and no hope.

Then I met Earl, the chaplain for the floor I worked on. He invited me to eat supper with him at the hospital cafeteria often and became a friend.  I told him all about my life and he listened. He never preached at me but encouraged me to call him if I needed help. Still, I kept him at a distance—no home telephone number and no address.

One evening at supper, he asked me out. I said “No” and asked him if he was crazy. He didn’t give up, and a year after we met we went on our first date. He proposed just two months later and of course, I said “Yes.”

I went to church with him a few times, and we always sat in the last pew. I never listened to the sermon. I didn’t know Jesus but scheduled my baptism with the pastor because I thought a preacher’s wife should be baptized. I answered the pastors’ questions appropriately, making a profession of faith, and he poured a palm-full of cold water on my head. As it slowly trickled down my scalp, I thought, “Shouldn’t I feel saved?”

Four years into our marriage, and holding the esteemed position of pastor’s wife, my past had devoured my soul. I avoided church and church members for fear they’d see the real me.

Earl and a few of his close friends encouraged me to go on a Walk to Emmaus. I heard testimonies from several of God’s forgiven daughters. I felt like the woman at the well: I met a man who “told me everything I have ever done” (John 4:29 NIV). I accepted God’s forgiveness that weekend and promised I would tell every one of His great love and mercy.

Father, You saw and touched the depths of my soul—my pain, my shame, my past. You brought it all out of the darkness, into the light and under the blood. You healed me and freed me from my chains. May I always boldly proclaim Your Word as you bind up the brokenhearted and set the captives free (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18 NIV).

In Christian Love,
Berta

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His Intent

 
 
“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him Job 13:15 KJV
 
Two weeks on bedrest after I had surgery to close a small pressure sore had passed slowly, and I expected good news from my surgeon.
 
On arrival in the clinic, a nurse looked at, measured and took a picture of the incision. “Well there are six sutures, but it looks like it doesn’t want to stick together.” My heart sank for a few minutes. Then, while talking to God, I knew I’d make it through whatever the doctor deemed necessary.
 
When he came in and looked at the incision, he agreed with the nurse. His solution: add four sutures. Before he spoke again I said, “Doc, do you think it would help if I stay in bed longer?” He said, “It would probably help.”
 
So back on bed rest for two more weeks, I read my devotion from “Joni and Friends.” It began:
 
“His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realm.” Ephesians 3:10
 
The powers and principalities, all the heavenly hosts and the dark rulers of the universe, millions of unseen beings are intensely interested to see just how “able” God is to sustain the weak and the weary.
 
Ephesians 3:10 tells us that God teaches the unseen world all about Himself, and He does it using you and me as His audio-visual aids. We are used of the Lord to show the universe how great, awesome, and wonderful God and His grace are.*
 
There’s more but you can see the power of God that changed my outlook yesterday. Reading this note from Joni opened my eyes again to God’s unchanging faithfulness.
 
Are you where God can use you to teach the unseen (and seen) world about His love, power, and grace?
 
In Christian Love,
Berta
 
*Taken from More Precious Than Silver. Copyright © 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada. www.joniandfriends.org
 
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