THE ULTIMATE GRACE CASE
Hi! My name is "mags." I am 42 years old, a mother of two, a sophomore in college and a sophomore in high school, both girls. Needless to say the gray hair is coming in and I have resorted to the bottle-dye, that is, not booze.
Given my past, booze would have been the option of choice if it were not for Jesus Christ. My mom developed alcoholism and died from it when I was twelve. My dad never recovered from losing her and eventually smoked and drank himself into an early grave as well. While I have had the occasional glass of champagne to toast at a wedding, or sometimes have had a glass of wine with dinner while out on a date with my present husband, the Lord graciously spared me from the addiction that robbed me of my parents and my children of their grandparents. You see, they were not all bad, despite their addictions. My father, who knew the bible as he had grown up Lutheran, actually used to engage in (civilized) debates with me when I was a feminist-humanist-eighteen-year-old-know-it-all-and-then-some in college.
College. Tell me do you believe in miracles? Well, I earned both a baccalaureate degree and a law degree from Liberal Humanist Shangri La, a.k.a.- UW-Madison. Are you sitting down? It was there that I left my anger and disbelief behind and began a journey of discovery-I found out who Jesus Christ was and is.
Flashback. Satan tried to kill me as a kid. Spiritually, emotionally, mentally, even physically. I was molested by a priest at the tender age of eight. As a little kid growing up catholic in the early to middle sixties, I did not even understand what had happened to me. I mean eight year old kids were not as savvy as they are today; even if I had heard the word sex, I would have thought it was the number between five and seven.
Needless to say my parents never knew. I did not even remember it until I was driving along one day in my mid thirties, on my way back from court. I was singing and praising God, the only one who can stand to hear me sing (one of His little known but truly awesome abilities). All of a sudden this memory came back to me. Instead of crying, or veering off the road, I actually laughed. Years of pain, sexual confusion, obsession, and dysfunction from which I no longer suffered at that point in my life, made sense at last. I asked the Lord why He was showing me this now and He actually answered. The Spirit of God spoke to my heart and said, " I wanted you to see what you have been delivered from." Now I get the privilege of sharing this testimony and the healing power of the name of Jesus with teens who have gotten messed up sexually.
I also lost my mom just as I hit puberty. At the funeral the priest said God took my mother and we were not to feel sad about it. He obviously needed her more in heaven than we did on earth according to this guy. This may have been the standard line for funerals at the time but it was cruel and drove me to distrust and even at times feel like I hated God. By the time I was in my teens I had begun to pursue all kinds of avenues, other religions and philosophies, even the occult, searching for knowledge. You know that arrogant attitude some suffer from that the bible is for simpletons who need a crutch; I was the poster child. I was an intellectual.
When I was thirteen I was assaulted by a friend of my brother's. My dad was out of town. My brother thought his friend had left. I was alone in the living room, reading as usual. This guy was huge and about eighteen and I was terrified. I never told. Not anyone. I was also date raped at sixteen. So I guess it is not any wonder I also thought about and attempted suicide in my teens.
Academics were the only area in my life in which I had known any real success. I was a feminist so I aimed high, or so I thought then, and decided I wanted to become an attorney at the oh-so-wise age of fourteen.
How could anyone with my past, my politics, and my predisposition, ever become a follower of Christ?
As a kid growing up catholic, I do remember the stations of the cross being particularly moving to me. I would almost choke up when we would have to sit through it as a class. This is a little ceremony (for the uninitiated) wherein pictures on the wall depict various scenes of the Lord's crucifixion and death. Then they repeat certain prayers.
I also remember that I loved Easter Sunday. I actually thought the idea of the Resurrection was so awesome. I was eight. I believed.
Enter adolescence and all that took place. I even got preggers at seventeen. (We used a condom; Lesson: There is no safe sex but obedience to God's word- Wait For Your Mate). I told nobody but the guy. He told his dad, a shrink no less. They insisted and I gave in and had an abortion. Do not ask how, but I knew then it was a boy. Twenty-one years to the date of his probable conception, I had a dream about a young man who looked something like my boyfriend back then but different. He was so sweet and as we talked I felt sad and just said "That was so long ago," over and over again. He said to me, "Yes, but it is all okay now." I awoke and went for a walk on that beautiful spring morning as I often did then to be alone and pray. I sort of brushed off the dream wondering why I would think of Chris twenty some years later. I asked God, and He said, "That's not Chris, it's your son."
Before you think of me as one of those women portrayed in the pro-life commercials who feels guilty and sees ghosts the rest of her life, let me say this. I had not thought about any of it in years. You see I eventually came to know I had been forgiven. Jesus shed Holy Blood to pay for it. So to indulge my flesh, beating my breast to prove how sorry I was to myself and others, to me, would have been to diminish the great sacrifice of the cross and the great grace I have received, however undeserved. I gave up my son to death out of fear and selfishness. God gave up His Son out of love to pay for what I'd done. I believe the dream. If the innocents who were killed are with Jesus, I may just see my son someday in heaven.
After the abortion, I struggled even more with depression. The academics, and commitments to all the "isms" seemed to help at times, but the misery always came back. When Chris (my boyfriend), was in my life, it felt great; when he was not, I was the walking dead.
Enter Darcy, my roomie from Boston. She to came to Mad-town a budding feminist, but something changed toward the end of the first semester. She was going to the local campus catholic church. Her family made her promise to go once a month as a concession to her Bostonian catholic upbringing, her politics notwithstanding. The priest turned out to be a bonafide Jesus freak in a cassock (a dress catholic priests wear). He was pastoring this little congregation on a campus in a radical state college town, so far from the Vatican, and so insignificant to all the politics associated with it, that I think he just did what he felt led to do.
I started attending services, and guess what? No lightning bolts. I survived and during his sermons as he referred to the bible?!?, I actually began to find some peace.
[A little parenthetical: the Apostle Paul always uses these- Just so you know my best friend from high school- Debbie, was a Lutheran kid who actually carried her bible to school some days(in the '70's- no way! yes, well, that was "Big Red" for you, called this for her long legs and vivid red hair.) She was always telling me about God, always praying and concerned. See the seeds?]
Back to the future - in college. Soon Darcy was going to a bible study. She had purchased an actual bible. She told me to help myself anytime.
Weeellll. As sophisticated as I was intellectually, I was still afraid of lightning bolts.
One day when she was out, I was studying for finals. I was quite ill which was not unusual for me during finals. I pushed myself physically because all that drove me were grades and the goal of law school. After all I had killed my kid; I had to make something count, right? (see the feminist/catholic conflict here)
So I picked up the bible. No lightning. I opened it. Still no lightning. (The truth is that priest had lied about my mom's death, so he must have been wrong about the lightning too; but I did not know that then.)
I turned to the beginning the way one would with any other book and began to read:
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Gen 1:1
This has since become a favorite verse of mine. It is filled with all the glory, the wonder, and the comfort of knowing My Father God, my Savior King, and my Teacher and Companion, the Holy Spirit.
Back then however I was just overwhelmed. I had an evolution polluted brain. Yes, I believe in creation now. I am a highly educated person and a practicing attorney of 17 years experience, trained as a trial lawyer. I have examined the evidence, pro and con, and have found the evidence that supports the biblical account far too compelling to reach any other conclusion. Before you scoff, have the intellectual honesty to check it out. You owe it to yourself.
The origins of the cosmos were left behind as I turned to the middle of the book. I did not know then that therein lay the treasures of the heart of a man after God's own heart. I did not know then that this was even who David came to be known as. I only saw the words of Psalm 32. As I read, those words began to swim before my eyes as tears of recognition and then gratitude began to fall.
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
There was such a peace to be found in these words. I longed for that peaceful assurance.
When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. for day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer, Selah.
Was this not describing me during those dark nights of the soul when I was face to face with myself, and my sorry little life. At those moments the grand dreams were gone like smoke in the wind. I was left with only tears and fears.
Then came the lightning bolt. Only it did not strike me down. It lit up the night sky of my heart:
I acknowledged my sin unto Thee. And mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgression unto the Lord; and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.
I did not know how to address God, stunted as I was by the rituals of my upbringing. I only knew with all my heart that I wanted to know what the writer of these words knew: God's forgiveness. That day He heard the silent cry of my heart and counted the value of each bitter tear.
Other words led me on:
I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way that thou shalt go.
I then felt led to look onward and turned to the New Testament. It opened to John 8:1. Here was the story of the woman whose poor, pathetic life dangled on the brink of destruction as religious folk plotted her death as a way to try to trap a King. His wisdom in dispersing them was astounding enough. His compassionate refusal to condemn her, His triumphant declaration that she was free to go her way and sin no more won my heart. I have loved Him ever since.
Since that time I have read of His death, His resurrection, His second coming. Every "ism" I had once held dear has fallen like the old pagan idols before the living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I have found him to also be the Lord God of Deborah, Ruth, and Esther as well. I have even gone through a season of backsliding when the enemy of my soul threw things at me to hurt me and I wavered. But my Jesus, my King, He has never wavered. He has never condemned. Though He has chastened, He has sheltered, protected and empowered.
I invite any who read this who do not know Him to give Christ a try:
Time doesn't heal the heart that is torn apart;
it's time to make a change.
God's word will mend the heart that's torn apart;
things will rearrange.
True love is what you'll find and peace of mind
when you look to God's son,
Leave all your cares behind, make up your mind,
forget the things you've done, and just
Open your heart up and give Christ a try,
He's in love with you, He arose to set you on high
You'll never know until you know that you've tried,
His warm and tender love; always thinking of God's Son inside.
I used to sing that song to my kids (they had no choice - they had to listen).
Seriously, no matter where you've been or what your life has been up until now, Jesus loves each and every one of you. He proved it with His life, His death and His resurrection. Go for it. All you have to lose is sin, death, and the grave. And you'll gain the truest love you'll ever know, now or ever - and so much more. Do not take my word for it only. Take God at His word like I did. Pick up a bible and read. Let it speak to you. Those are God's very words, conceived in eternity, spoken forth into human time.
I'll be praying for you all.