The past few weeks I’ve thought a lot about the question chosen as the title of this post. It began after I found myself following a series of messages written by David Reagan, posted at his Lion and Lamb blog. His series is titled; “Israel as Proof of God’s Existence.” (There at at least 5-parts-all which can be found in the side-bar at the site).
While I understood prior to reading them, Reagan being a well known, established and respected, dispensationalist, I likely wasn’t going to agree with much or little of his messages, but I still found myself deeply offended, or maybe a better term would be deeply ‘taken-aback’ by the title he chose for his series. If you ask me to explain why I had/have this reaction the likelihood of my being able to adequately explain it to everyone’s satisfaction probably isn’t going to happen; the only thing I can do is try to explain how it made me feel and what it caused me to think about.
This year, 2014, I will have been saved 34 years. That means, being now 66, I was 32 years old before Jesus wonderfully saved me. That’s 32 years of living a selfish life of sin. And believe me folks, those years were filled with sinful living. There were many periods of drug use, many alcoholic ‘binges, much partying, and all you can imagine, which goes hand-in-hand with this kind of life. In the years directly prior to coming to Christ, I even became involved in what I know now, was witchcraft.
But one morning, after returning home from dropping my youngest off at school, God ‘called’ my name and after literally…LITERALLY, being drawn to my knees, showed me Jesus at Calvary. Yes, I saw Him folks. Hanging on that wood, His face almost unrecognizable as being that of a man, so covered in blood that it was. I’ll say no more, but this: He saw me. He looked at me my friends. And in my ‘mind’ or heart, or whatever you want to call it, I heard Him say, “I did this for you”. And I knew it was true…that He hung there for me AND, He did it knowing beforehand, all I would do in the 32 years prior to that moment.
…. it still rends my heart into tiny pieces recalling that moment. All these years later. The shame, the love…the mixture of both felt, it’s too difficult to explain.
But this my friends; This, being aware (and I was aware) that Jesus knew everything–everything I had done, every horrible word which ever came out of this mouth, every evil act and deed I had ever committed against others and against Him, and still, He loved me; still called me that morning unto Himself–THIS, is what convinced me!
This and the truth of rising to my feet that morning a new person…a new creature in Christ with a second chance at life. That the old person, which was filthy with the sins of 32 years of living, ‘died’ while on her knees that morning, and the slate was wiped clean. Israel? Knew little about it, only what I could recall from the limited occasions, when as a child, I had attended sunday school.
The love and saving power of Jesus, and the changes which were brought about within because of both, is what convinced me folks. Can you understand this? Can you see, even a little, why Reagan’s title for his series bothers me so? If not, forgive me for I’m not the best at explaining how I deeply feel.
Anyway, this evening a letter arrived from Christ is Victor.
I’d like to end this, which is mostly personal musing, by sharing one of the items included in the letter. It tells of another young woman and her own experience of coming to salvation through Jesus Christ. It’s beautiful…different then mine, and I’m sure from your own story as well: each of us have a story, a testimony if you will, which is unique.
But all are the same in that they end with a new life! The absolute proof of God’s existence.
From Helen E. Bingham’s, An Irish Saint: The Life Story of Ann Preston
“But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:6). After hearing this Bible verse one Sunday, young Ann Preston—an untaught, unlettered Irish girl—knelt down voluntarily for the first time in her life and began to cry out.
While crying out, Ann had a powerful revelation of her distress. “I see all the sins that ever I did from the time I was five years old all written on the chair in front of me, every one,” she told the mistress for whom she worked. Looking down, Ann cried out: “Oh, ma’am, worse than all, I see hell open ready to swallow me.” She began to smite her breast, and cried out, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” Desperation gripped her as she repeatedly cried for mercy.
At midnight, Ann jumped up: “No mercy, Lord, for me?” But as the question passed her lips, assurance filled her heart. Ann always said that as she looked up she saw the Saviour as He was on Calvary, and knew there and then that His blood atoned for her sins. “I felt then something burning in my heart,” she would later say, “I just longed for the morning, that I could go home and tell my father and mother what the Lord had done for me.”
Ann picked up a Testament, and then prayed her first simple request as a child of God. “O Lord,” she said, “You that have taken away this awful burden, intolerable to bear, couldn’t You enable me to read one of these little things?” putting her finger on a verse. She read: “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst” (John 4:13-14).
There is, however, a class of Christian life which God makes possible and Ann did not immediately possess. It is where the human will is surrendered to its Maker, the whole life is consecrated, and the Holy Spirit of God fills the soul. The years proved that Ann had a great battle: an ungovernable temper. She wept over it, confessed it, fought with it—but would fall again.
One evening, Ann heard Psalm 34 read out. Verse 16 impressed itself strongly upon her: “The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.” She asked the reader to mark the verse for her, went to her room, knelt down, and prayed for light. She opened the Bible at the place where the leaf had been turned down. “You can’t read it,” the devil said. “Well, the Lord will give it to me,” Ann replied. Wonderfully, Ann was enabled to read the verse repeatedly. (From thence, unlettered Ann could read the Bible although no other book.)
While still upon her knees, Ann said: “Lord, what is evil?” The answer came: “Anger, wrath, malice,” and so on. Ann wept and prayed all night long as her inward sinfulness was revealed. Toward morning, she cried out: “O Lord, how shall I know when I get deliverance?” The answer came: “Well, Jacob wrestled until he prevailed.” In her simplicity, Ann asked: “What does ‘prevailed’ mean?” The reply came: “Getting just what you came for and all you want.” Again she queried: “And what will it do for me when I get it?” The reply came back: “It will enable you to rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, and in everything to give thanks. You will live above the troubles of this world and the things that now upset you.” Ann fervently desired to be sanctified [made holy] throughout—body, soul, and spirit (see 1 Thessalonians 5:23).
The following day, Ann persisted, pleading Jesus’ promise: “Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you”. She cried: “Lord, I have been knocking all night. Open unto me! Open unto me!” The answer came.
For two hours it seemed as if Ann had entered into heaven. The house was filled with her shouts of praise! The trees appeared to clap their hands and praise God! For eight days, Ann ate nothing for joy. The following years felt as though lived in the heavenly places. When one morning Ann found her lips dumb instead of the usual praise, it was revealed to her that “the just shall live by faith” and that she should simply trust God. Ann applied these principles and obtained perfect peace.
Ann’s life became a witness to the power of faith, holiness, and ‘prevailing’ in prayer; she went to be with Jesus in 1906.
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:23-24).