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One Woman's Testimony: Learning Love from the Source

Learning Love     I believed what I was taught as a child in school, that George Washington was our first president, that Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves and that Jesus Christ died for my sins and I was to love Him because of that.  Even though I learned all about them, I didn’t know them personally, and I certainly didn’t love any of them.   I respected them and believed what I was taught was the truth.

     I was told that I had better love God or I would go straight to hell.  That really scared me because I had also learned about hell.  I would confess my love for God, but wondered, “What kind of love is this that I feel absolutely nothing?”  If truth be known, I didn’t love God, I feared Him.

     Even as a child, what I was being taught seemed impossible to accomplish.  I was always doing something that I knew was wrong.  I had thought, said, or done something that was considered a sin.  I would call out to God, “Surely, You have not created me just to send me to hell.  I can’t do this alone.”  I felt so defeated in my efforts to be good.

     I struggled throughout my life to live by what I was taught, but was an utter failure.  I based all of life’s serious decisions on what my religion dictated to me, yet my life was a mess.   I would pray, but praying to a God I did not know personally left me feeling isolated.

     It wasn’t until I turned thirty-eight that I finally met this Jesus I had been taught about.  It was through the most horrendous experience of my life that He became real to me.  I found as I faced disaster, my church and religious beliefs could not see me though the situation.  I finally realized I could not face life’s problems with only a set of rules to go by; that it was impossible to do it on will power alone.

     My problem began because I married at the age of sixteen; much too young to know what life was all about. It didn’t take but three months to realize what a terrible mistake I had made.  My husband and I had absolutely nothing in common. However, due to my religious beliefs, I would not even consider divorce.  I felt I had given my life away on a whim. 

     My husband and I worked at our marriage, but I was not a happy person.  I turned into a party girl to give a little interest to my life.  My dear husband tried to keep up with me, but was an utter failure at the party scene. 

     God had a plan for our lives and began to orchestrate circumstances to bring that plan into fruition.  My husband was a Reservist and was sent to Korea for a year.  During that time all our friends deserted me.  I was looking forward to his return so we could resume our old life.

     Since I had made no efforts to change, I had to walk around the same mountain again.  Six years later my husband’s unit was called to serve in Germany for another full year.  I knew from the past what would happen, so I took up with all my unmarried and divorced friends.  We partied hearty and I decided I wanted my freedom to pursue my fun-life unhindered. 

     My religion was forgotten.  When my husband returned from Germany, I asked him for a divorce.  He was devastated and turned to drink.  He became mean and surly.  I was told he had a gun and I was terrified that he would use it against me and the children.  I lived in torment for over three years never knowing what I was coming home to at night or if he would come to my work place and try to kill me.

     In spite of the turmoil in our lives at that time, we continued attending church for the sake of the children.  One Sunday, a situation arose that caused us to be in a church not of our faith.  When I entered the sanctuary of that church, the power of the Holy Spirit hit me and went through my entire being.  I ran to the front pew and cried through the entire service.  Afterwards, I went to the alter and prayed the sinner’s prayer. 

     Nothing seemed to change, however when I went to work the next day, I began to hear voices.  One told me the prayer I prayed meant nothing and get the divorce.  Immediately, another voice spoke and said he was calling me for the last time; he would not call again.  This continued, without ceasing, all day Monday.   Tuesday morning as I sat at my desk, the power of the Holy Spirit once again went through my body like a lightning bolt.  Then Jesus spoke.  He said, “I have fought Satan for you for three days, and I have won.  You will never live as you did in the past.   Your husband will forgive you, for if he doesn’t, his sin will be greater than yours, because I have forgiven you.”

     I had a Damascus Road experience.  I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had had an encounter with Jesus and I would never be the same.  My old life was gone.  Old things had passed and all things became new.  I walked away from my past, my former church, my siblings and my friends.  I never looked back. 

     My husband did indeed forgive me and he, himself, gave his heart to Jesus that following Wednesday. We still have little in common but Jesus, and that is more than enough.  We have learned to accept and respect each other’s differences, and because of that, our love for each other continues to grow. We have now been married sixty-two years.  No one thought the marriage would last, but with God, all things are possible.

Copyright © 2008-2015 Sylvia Hensel

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