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Lost and Found


Dear Randy,

I wanted to share here on your site, some of my own spiritual journey.

I was born in Texas and have lived here most of my life. (I lived a short time with my maternal grandmother in Oklahoma when, at age six, my parents divorced). But before that, I remember my mother taking me to church. I still have fond memories of those times that laid dormant in the recesses of my soul. When I was six, my mom had my youngest brother, but the brother just younger than me was in the hospital in Galveston dying from complications related to Downs Syndrome. My dad decided he wanted another woman (and incidentally had already found her). So he exited my life and never looked back. My mother then became mom AND dad. This was in the early 60's, and it wasn't easy for an uneducated woman to provide for three children on her own. Then she eventually met and married my stepfather.

There was a small Baptist Church a couple of blocks from where we lived. Although my mom didn't go, at the age of nine or ten I knew I wanted to know Jesus, so I'd walk to this little church by myself. I remember hearing how much God loved us and that He had sent His Son to die for us. One Sunday, while they were making an altar call, I went forward and accepted Jesus as my Savior. After all these years and as I look back, I realize that the innocence of that acceptance "took." Jesus took me seriously and from that moment, I've belonged to Him.

But we have our own ideas and make decisions to walk our own path. And our Savior is so patient and gentle to let us do our thing. What's wonderful about Him is that He'll use our waywardness to His benefit and I wholeheartedly believe that to be what He did with me.

When I was 15, I quit school and married a guy (I'm still married to him these 25 years later!) whose family were Jehovah's Witnesses. Being young and a new bride made my relationships with my former friends difficult. My husband didn't want me running around with my teen friends and I grew lonely and bored and desperate for friendship. And Johnny (my husband) had been talking to me about the religion of his family. So we both decided to "study," he with his brother and me with his brother's wife.

I didn't have a clue as to what orthodox Christianity taught. So I swallowed what my "teacher" taught me, hook, line and sinker. We studied in the "Truth" book. Do you remember that little blue book that made the claim of "The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life"? I know what the current JWs say about 1975, but I was there and was told in no uncertain terms that Armageddon WAS coming by October of that year. I remember thinking..."Oh God, I'm just going to get to spend less than three years with Johnny before God's going to destroy this system." It broke my heart. So I had to do what the WTS said, so we could spend a lifetime together. When 1975 came, I had started being inactive, and I distinctly remember we were driving down the road on the last day of October of that year. We were listening to the radio and the DJ said something about it being the last day of October and a fear came over me that was unreal. I remember reaching over and slapping my husband on the shoulder, thinking that it was HIS fault I wasn't going to the meetings! Lord, I was scared!

I thought...WOW, I must be special for God to give me the "truth," and all these other people in the world are so lost. Little did I know how lost I was. My husband and I were baptized at the International Assembly held in Houston, TX in the summer of 1973.

It wasn't long before Johnny realized the demands made were more than he could live up to. So he stopped the meetings very early in our marriage and just recently told me that he had mentally prepared himself to die at Armageddon, because he didn't have it in himself to perform to the Watchtower's satisfaction. But after a few years we started our family, and becoming a mother has the tendency of making you get serious about life. So to the meetings I went. I was determined to raise my kids in the "truth," whether Johnny went or not.

I had reached an age where comprehension was a must. But my comprehension of WT teachings wasn't in line with what I was perceiving the Bible to teach. And of course, I berated myself, because "without the WTS we couldn't understand the Bible.....right?" But things just kept coming up. No matter how much I tried ignoring them, the glaring inconsistencies came to the fore. I stopped teaching my young children because I certainly wasn't going to teach the loves of my life, things that I didn't believe absolutely. So I started just reading the Bible to them. I also quit going in door-to-door "service" for exactly the same reason. An unbelieving salesman doesn't make a very good witness of the product he's trying to sell. I just couldn't do it anymore.

Then came many years of spiritual poverty. Hopelessness, fear and dread the likes of which I'd never known. I can't even describe adequately the misery knew for many years. And what's really strange, is that in all the years I didn't go to the meetings (about eight at that time), not one "shepherd" came to find the lost "sheep." (I now thank God!) What's really strange, is that in the course of all this, I had called and requested to be disfellowshipped and they had refused and one elder, whom I admired and considered a good and trusted friend, called and ask if he could come talk to me. Of course, I said yes....but he never came. I'm not the superstitious type, but I'm of the opinion that the Lord intervened, knowing how fragile my mental and emotional state was.

During this time I finally came to the decision to read and study ONLY the Bible. I was sick and tired of what everybody in the world was declaring you had to believe to be satisfying to God. So I made a vow to God. I told Him, it had to be Him and me. So over a period of time, I would just read the Bible in the mornings and at night, praying for divine guidance, because that's the only guidance that I was going to be able to fully trust.

And to make a long story short, God blessed me with the baptism in the Holy Spirit and all the unanswered doubts and questions were like scales falling from my eyes. And it was made crystal clear to me, in no uncertain terms, that Jesus Christ is the answer. He's all we need for salvation. He is sufficient. Lifting up the Name of the Son of God is what brings glory and honor to the Father.

There is much more to this story. The Lord moved in my husbands life also, but I'll save that for another time.

What's truly wonderful is this: When I was nine years old and I gave my life to Jesus. He took me seriously. And He IS the Shepherd that comes looking for the one lost sheep. Praise God Almighty, He's still in business.

Sincerely with Christian love,

Linda


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