From Farm Girl to God’s Family
My Growing Years
I grew up on a 500-acre farm with my parents and four brothers. At an early age, I enjoyed the heavens and the earth with its many living creatures. Farm life was a testimony to me of God’s power and wisdom. These experiences convinced me that God was real.
Although, I had no doubt of God’s existence and very much appreciated and enjoyed His creation, I did not personally know God. As a family, we irregularly attended a Methodist congregation, but it was more of a social gathering rather than a spiritual guiding force. Our family was somewhat broken and among the seven of us there was quite a bit of fighting. Yet I sensed God’s stabilizing influence during these years through His creation, His Word and certain persons placed in my life.
At age 9, my brothers and I were taken to watch a gospel movie. Afterward, we were counseled and led to pray to receive the Lord Jesus. This event affected each of us in different ways. My brother, Kirk (age 11), seemed to have the most earnest response. He began to go out into the fields to pray for our family, but generally, we were like lone lambs without a flock or shepherd.
At age 14, my father died in a tractor accident. He was only 46 years old. The next few years were a whirlwind of events. My three older brothers enlisted in the military during the Vietnam war, my mother remarried, we moved off the farm into the city, and I started my first year of high school in a new school, knowing only one person.
By age 19, I was a mess. I was disillusioned with the world. The good, religious world did not meet my need, so I gave it up. And the not-so-good world was trying to destroy me. Inwardly, I sensed that God had something special planned for me, but I was looking for it in all the wrong places.
A Turn Toward God
That summer before my sophomore year in college, I started hanging out with a motorcycle gang. I decided to join one of their outings at a nearby lake. As I rode behind the leader of the gang on his homemade 3-wheel motorcycle, the combined weight of our bodies proved to be too much for the cycle. One of the struts broke and we went flying through the air at 70 mph. My first impact was to my head and neck area in the opposing lane of traffic. I felt something break. When I finally landed face down in a ditch, the first thing I did was recite the few verses I knew in the Bible, Matt. 6:9-13: “Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.” Then I prayed that the man I was riding behind would be healthy. When I lifted my head to find him, my prayer was immediately answered as I saw him jump off the ground and run toward me. Miraculously, he had only received minor abrasions and I had only broken my collarbone, plus some abrasions.
A few weeks later, I was back in class at Indiana University. I was still in awe that I had been spared from death. I repeatedly asked God, “Why did You keep me alive? Why?” There was no reason that my friend and I should have survived this accident considering our speed, the oncoming traffic, our lack of protective clothing, etc. This realization caused me to have an abrupt turn toward God.
Meeting God’s Family
Soon my brother, Kirk, came to pay me a visit. I don’t remember much about his visit, except that he was shining and talking about Jesus. This motivated me to visit him a few months later and to meet with his Christian friends. At this gathering, we ate dinner and sang songs. I was magnetized by everyone’s expression of light and melted by their outflow of love. I wanted what they had. They told me that it was “the Lord Jesus” and all I had to do was call on Him. That sounded too simple to me, but I did it. I called, “Oh Lord Jesus! Oh Lord Jesus! Oh Lord Jesus!” I felt like I had finally come home and I was at rest.
I went back to college, but I was NOT the same. I was never going to be the same. I had met God in a group of seemingly, ordinary people. They were normal people living and working on earth, but they expressed God. I had experienced the same God and now I was communing with Him. Over the next two months I would visit the church in Indianapolis every weekend. I gradually learned that I could enjoy the Lord Jesus everywhere, call on Him at any time, love Him by singing to Him, receive more of Him through praying and reading His Word and be filled to overflowing when I met with His family, the church.
Later at a large church gathering in Chicago, I listened to a small group of women pray and I realized that God was moving and carrying out His plan in people on earth. He was not building a physical building of bricks or even gathering a group of good, righteous people. What He was doing was filling people with His very life and nature, so that they would express and represent Him here on earth now and for eternity! What He was doing was so simple that anyone could receive it, but so extensively grand that only “Christ in us” could live and carry it out. The words in Galatians 2:20 became visibly real to me, “it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live in faith, the faith of the Son of God…”
Never the Same
It is now over 43 years since my first encounter with Christ and His church. I am still NOT the same. The more I contact Him, the more He grows in me. I am enjoying meeting with other Christians who also are growing in Him. If we continue to allow Christ to grow in us and to be the Head of His Body, Ephesians 4:13-16 will become a reality on this earth. “Until we all arrive at the oneness of the faith and of the full knowledge of the Son of God, at a full-grown man… we may grow up into Him in all things, who is the Head, Christ, out from whom all the Body, being joined together and being knit together… causes the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love.”