At 15 years of age, while attending a Youth For Christ Bible Camp I dodged hay bales and cow puckies to answer an Altar Call during “Barn” Prayer Meeting. Throughout my early childhood I attended Sunday school under the tutelage of either Mrs. Langman or Mrs. Hannah
In my little village, outside of Belleville, Ontario, Canada, I was Christened, then later “Confirmed” in a “good” High Anglican Church, under the auspices of the local Deacon! As a 6 year old, I listened intently and hung on every Scriptural word; often questioning my teachers. In fact, I am certain they often cringed when my little hand shot up to question a commentary lecturer during an all too boring story! I believe the Lord places people in our lives to be inspirational or to have an impact on our life. Sunday school teachers are used as bricks to build our faith and to lay a foundation rooted in old Bible stories (Luke 6:48 NKJV) entrenched in impressionable young minds for the rest of our life. Even the most alien of creatures know the song: “Yes, Jesus Loves Me.” (Romans 8:39 NKJV)
Those foundational people that walk through our life often impact even the faintest of shadows on a fundamental imbedded Christianity. That is absorbed and then reflected back later in life. Impressionable young minds absorb ancient stories, only to be spilled out later. My Aunt Gertie was my foundational inspiration! My father’s sister, she was a beautiful woman, the epitome of Christianity. Aunt Gertie suffered through trials and tribulations many times (John 16:33 NKJV) in silence with stoic grace–losing children to tragic, unexpected death, an unexpected pregnancy, military shadows and sadness. There are even those who said she was married to an abusive husband. By 2007 standard, I suppose that would be true. However, my Aunt Gertie rarely complained about her lot in life.
She did not lecture to those that turned a deaf ear (Isaiah 42:20) about the love of God nor did she “Bible Thump”. She lived and walked daily with the love of the Lord in her heart and it showed in all aspects of her life. My Aunt Gertie told me once, that one does not have to shove God down the throat, but put out crumbs for people to pick up and chew on for a while. Tributes for her, when she left this earth to be with the Lord, spoke volumes to her gentle and kind nature. Gertrude Palmer was an inspiration to me and I miss her every day.
Walking with the Lord, however, proved to be a little more challenging for teen Sharon. When one accepts Christ you belong to Him and whether or not you sway from the First Love you have for the Lord or not, the Lord has a grip on your soul and then He waits patiently for your Spirit to connect with His in an Everlasting Love. No matter how I tried to ignore the Lord as a teen, He always pulled me back to Him. Either through people like my Aunt or by events like my dad getting his by a train while on the job. When my father was having surgery for his back injury he claimed he had a vision. I believe the Lord gives us dreams and visions for His glory and that is exactly what kind of dream my father had when he was sleeping soundly while the surgeons performed their own kind of miracle, helping my father walk again. Dad talked about his dream. He saw the Lord, sitting with his disciples at the Last Supper. Beside the Lord was an empty chair and one of the disciples pointed to the empty chair, then looked at my father. The Lord Jesus just shook his head in a negative way while the disciple argued with the Lord. Dad said when he woke from the surgery, he knew he would walk again. And he did, two years later. Many years have passed since Dad went to be with the Lord, but just before he died he told me he had the same dream he dreamt so many years ago. But this time, the Lord was agreeing with the disciple. Dad knew he would take that chair and within the week, he was seated next to the Lord in Heaven. So many stories heard over the years, drew me closer to God. Births, deaths, testimonies, we have all had those in our lives. Building blocks toward salvation.
Then one day the Lord truly bent my knees and I have never been the same….thanks to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! When you are 15 years old and want to be “cool” and “in” you smoked! It was the ’60’s–I never “did” drugs; nope, never touched dope, ever; but I did start to smoke. Now, I thought I could do it and never have to worry about the consequences. Years later, I learned a valuable lesson. What you think you can do with consequences, you can’t. I taught high school. A requirement in teaching was to get x-rays done on a regular basis (every 10 years) for TB. My turn! Then a call came from the doctor’s office. I had “scarring” on my chest wall and it had shown up in the x-ray. OK…..”scarring” from what? Well, my doctor explained it looked like I had tumors in my right lung. I was smoking at the time he told me this information. I asked for “worse case scenerio”….he said–tumors in the lung can mean lung cancer, or not. Once the word “cancer” is said, it is out there hanging heavy in the air. Then nothing else is heard after that word! When I hung up the phone, I immediately went on the web and researched, starting with the Mayo Clinic. Tumors in the lung is not a good diagnosis! Sometimes the web can be a blessing; sometimes a curse; giving too much information.
I gathered up my ashtrays, my lighters and my cigarettes and marched to the garbage can and promptly deposited all the paraphenalia in the bottom of the can. Feeling quite satisfied I went back to my den and since I was all alone at home that day, I decided to organize my life. After all, I was in control of this situation. I could handle everything just fine. I thought–well, I have to tell Max; I have to tell my girls–Tamara and Tara; I have to tell my 80 year old mother, then I have to tell my sisters; then my friends. Ok! So I might as well start writing my will. I might as well get organized. I was in control of the situation! I, I, I, I, I, I—I was NOT in control of my situation—I did not have control over the tumors growing in my lung; I could not control my next breath; I was not the one in control at all. That is when I dropped my head to my hands instead of my hands to the keyboard. I started to shake, all over. I wasn’t crying–I was scared. Scared of dying! Scared of the unknown! Scared of what the future was going to hold for me! Scared I may not have a future! So many feelings rushed over me: I would not have another trip with Max; I would not see my daughter get married; I would not see a grandchild; I would not………my feelings overwhelmed me; then I went to my knees and called out to God. I felt so humbled and I knew it was by HIS Grace that I took my next breath! Through HIS Grace he controlled my life. Through HIS love I was forgiven! By HIS power HIS Will be done! I submitted all my control and all MY authority to God. I asked HIS Will be done in my life.
That was when I felt God’s Love. All of His peace filled my soul. I felt warm. I felt forgiven. I felt pure. I felt understanding. I felt the Grace of God fill my body and warm me with such a peace, it was behind all my understanding to this day. I opened my eyes and the room was filled with warm light, soft and comforting. I closed my eyes to feel the warmth again. I was full of a calmness that could only be described as serene. I was so happy. I knew I was loved and I knew I was forgiven. I understood why Christ gave His precious life on the cross. It was to save me from an eternal, pain filled existence. I went from darkness to light in that small den beside my computer and I will never go into darkness again. God, through His Beloved Son, reached out and touched me that day, healing my body, healing my spirit and preparing a place for my soul.
Many years later I learned what had happened to me physically: I had received an annointing from the Holy Spirit. But at that moment in my confusion, I only knew I had to submit my will to God’s Will. I learned in an instant God’s Will is Perfection; my will is fallible. God’s Will is Balance; my will is uneven and confused, blowing with the wind in this direction and in that direction. What Grace and What Perfection!
I had surgery–the tumors were still there. When I went into the Operating Room, my family was there, so supportive. I remember just as I slipped under to a deep sleep I felt a hand encompass mine and I knew in my heart it was Jesus. He was with me every minute, comforting me. My surgeon had to remove a section of my lung, the upper lobe, and apparently he found the tumors to be very unusual, so he dissected the tissue. He explained to my family as they waited to hear the results of the operation, when he cut into the tumors, a grain of sand fell out. I received that accounting of my surgery from my family as soon as I awoke and I knew my Lord had reached out to me, for His Divine purpose and it was my desire to serve Him. It has taken a long time for me to heal. I have 90 staples in my lung from the surgery, but I am here to serve my Lord and Savior, by His Grace and by His Will. I dedicate my life to Jesus and to God through the working of the Holy Spirit in my life. Every day I grow in the Lord, and every day I thank Him for the opportunity to share what He was done for me. I pray my story touches others; that there is a Power and a Glory that can give Peace that surpasses all understanding!
Sharon — From Defeat to Victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ!
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