40 DAYS - 40 NIGHTS - 40 YEARS
IN A BARREN SPIRITUAL WILDERNESS
(By: Rae Slager)
I was raised in a family where there wasn't much love. I had a mom who didn't like me, and told me things like this on a regular basis: 'I can't stand you! I wish I never had you! Why can't you be like somebody else?! What can't you be like the girl next door?! Why are you so big? Why are you so ugly?'
It was hard. I wanted love, and couldn't get it, at least from Mom.
I had a dad that I think loved me, because I got a lot of slaps on the back, and I was 'Daddy's girl,' or so I was told.
My mom had a baby boy when I was about age three, and I tried to kill him. I put a pillow over his face. I didn't want him coming into the family, because I figured that was where the love was leaving. I didn't want him taking over. I was caught before I could smother him to death, thank goodness. Yet I share it because of just how love starved I was.
There was no affection at all. If I got a toy, my mother would take it away. Holidays: Christmas, birthdays, she made sure that I got something used, and delighted in my reaction when I watched my brothers always get something new.
I could never understand that. Sometimes I would ask her when she did that to me: 'Mom, why do you do that to me? Don't you love me?'
'Why don't you love me? Am I doing something wrong? Why don't you, why don't you love me?' No answer from her.
I think it was the hardest thing growing up, without being loved.
But I know someone reading this right now knows the pain of what I'm sharing. You want to be loved and accepted so bad, and it seems to be impossible to get. I want to tell you ' someone does love you. If I could be with you right now, I would wrap my arms around you and hold you and tell you how much you are loved, over and over, because I know how much you hurt and ache inside, wanting to be loved by someone.
I tried to kill myself three times, I hurt so bad. Thank God I didn't succeed. (You discover later why).
At age 13, I forced myself; I mean literally forced myself on my mother. I boldly walked up to her one day and I said, 'I love you' and I'm going to give you a kiss.'
Well, she pushed me down, and my father picked me up and beat me and yelled, 'Never' ever - touch your mother like that again!'
And she told me, 'Under no circumstances -- girls don't do that! Girls don't kiss. Girls don't touch. And girls don't cry. In this family you don't cry. You're not allowed to cry. You've got to be tough!'
Okay, if that is what I had to do to get my mother's love, then I got tough and hard. I determined not to be scared of anybody. Big or small, it didn't matter. I wasn't afraid of any of them. I whipped every one of them. Boys even!
My father would tell me, 'If you don't beat them and whip them, I'm going to beat you with a razor strap when you get home!' I was quite determined not to lose any fights, and I managed to get into a lot of them.
Age 14 - 16, those were really some hard years. When I needed acceptance, I looked to everyone else for it, because I couldn't get it at home, it seemed.
I went to a parochial school for a couple of years, and it was there that they taught me some about God. I went to church, and I heard about 'God' and 'Jesus' and 'The Holy Spirit', and I was told that 'Jesus loves you.'
And I thought time after time, So where are ya'?! You sure aren't there when I need you! I wanna' know where you are? Why are you making me go through this?! If you're God, and if you love me ... why do I have a mom who hates me, and a dad I get a slap on the back from once in awhile? There's got to be some reason here, God 'I gotta' have some answers.
I didn't hear any answers. I didn't understand any of it. My heart grew cold toward God, the older I got.
Time passed, and it shouldn't surprise anyone that I got into drugs to detach from my pain and feel a little pleasure. With the drugs came all kinds of sex to experience more pleasure, and to try to fill that aching hole in my heart that wanted to be loved and accepted for who am: simply for who I was. What was so wrong with me?
This is so hard, because I know there are so many wanting the very same thing. Can't someone simply accept me for who I am? I'm not that bad of a person! Give me a chance!
Drugs? One toke of a joint. That didn't do it. I've got to have a second toke. One shot of heroin? That didn't do it. I've got to shoot again. Something's not right. You know the cycle, those of you who are using.
At age 18, I got engaged to a man who convinced me he loved me. It was an awesome relationship. I thought I was in love! This is so wonderful, I thought!
I met him at a bar. I had a false ID, and honey, that was where the action was ' and that was where I was! You know, people liked me there. I could dance good; they seemed to love me. They all had some of the same problems I had - looking for love and acceptance and a little excitement to go with it. We'd get together to drink and forget, and party to forget ' and, and ' my boyfriend left me.
And I found out I was pregnant.
Mom found out, and got me up out of bed in the middle of the night, and mom and dad poured a bathtub of hot water, gave me some medication, then they aborted my baby.
Again I went into an intense time where I had this burning question inside me: God, why are you doing this to me again? I don't understand. I had something here to love me, and you took it away from me. Why? You keep doing this to me over and over, and I can't take this pain anymore!
No answer again from God, that I could hear.
So I took a razor blade and slit my wrist
But I didn't die.
I kept thinking of ways that I could kill myself, yet knowing in my heart that wasn't what I truly wanted to do. I wanted to know what life is about. Surely there had to be something better in life than what I knew about.
I went and talked with a minister. I explained to him that I didn't understand why I was doing all the things I was doing, and I angrily exclaimed, 'Where is this power?! Where is this God that I've learned about as a child?! And, I don't feel. There's something missing. What's missing?!'
He told me to see a psychiatrist. In the meantime, my boyfriend broke up with me because of the abortion, or so was his excuse.
Well, I ran into some people at the bar again that accepted me. I didn't know how to touch in a natural way. I couldn't put my hands around someone and express my simple appreciation for them unless it was a possible sexual relationship, and that started running rampart. I was good at giving others sexual pleasure, and that was the only thing I truly believed I could be accepted for, so that is what went through my mind when I touched. Everyone there knew what I was about.
There was a motorcycle gang at the bar that accepted me too. They said, 'Rae, you're okay. We like you.' I was attracted to their acceptance of me. When it came initiation time and they told me what I had to do, and I said, 'I don't think I can do that.'
'Buy you have to, to be part of us. We love you, don't you realize?'
I can look back on that situation, and I look at what a person has to do today to be accepted into a gang, it's a substitute family for them. I watched that motorcycle gang I became a part of set a man on fire at a party. I was loaded with heroin, and I don't know how many other drugs as well. I remember seeing him laying there burning up - and I got up - I wanted to help him. A guy grabbed me and said, 'Sit down!'
I thought: 'This is love?! '
Then I began to get introspective with God again. 'God ' why are you doing this to me? Why aren't you there? I don't understand what I'm going through. It's terrible, I can't keep living like this!'
I would go into the bathroom at times where they couldn't see me and call my mom. In desperation, I would say, 'I need you mom. I've gotta have you love me. I need you to love me, mom.' When she wouldn't show me any, I would then tell her how much I hated her, but inside, I really didn't. I was just crying out for her love.
My father told me when I was 20 years old, 'I love you, and I'm sorry I never told you that.' I couldn't believe it! He put his arm around me and hugged me, because my mother wasn't there to stop it.
It was at that time that I asked him why mom refused to show me any love or acceptance, and he told me, 'That's just the way she is.' I got no answers from him either.
Other times, I would beat my face until it would swell, but even that didn't bother her.
At extremely low moments I would go into the bathroom, take a razor blade and slice up my arms, then show her, as blood dripped off them. It didn't' faze her. Other times, I would take jars from the medicine cabinet and beat my face with them until my face would swell, but even that didn't faze her.
The psychiatrists told me I had a mental disorder. I don't believe they called it: Loved Starved Syndrome.
I didn't know Jesus could heal like He can. I didn't know that Jesus can heal the brokenhearted, or I would have snapped Him up right then and there! I just kept living this lifestyle that I knew best.
I got a bartending job. Doing that, I found such acceptance. Everybody loved me. I had the best jokes, the dirtiest jokes, I had a bubbling personality that people warmed up to. And I went through a fifth of liquor a day to stay "extra happy."
I met another man who said he loved me. I married him. I got pregnant. I thought: Wow! I've finally found life, God. I felt like I had to get back into church at that point. But my husband refused to have a part of any of it. He told me he had 'done church before,' and he was done with it.
I started going to church by myself. I was happy. I was pregnant. I called my father and said, 'I have some exciting news for you.' We went roller skating that night; I was on such an emotional high. Then I told Dad I was pregnant. My father was genuinely excited. My father began skating with glee, showing how happy he was for me. At one point he was skating ahead of me and I was following him, waving my arms, so happy, so thrilled to share my excitement with him, and seeing him share it with me. Then all of a sudden, he dropped over dead.
I looked down at him, and I said through a torrent of tears: Here I go again, God. Why?! Why are you doing this to me?! This has been the most special moment in my life with my father, and now you've taken him away. Why?'
I got no answer again. Yet I had a baby on the way and a husband, which helped my loss.
Two weeks later my husband got drunk, came home and beat me, and the baby died.
I was taken to the hospital to recover, and on this same day my sister-in-law gave birth to a daughter. I said 'God: This isn't funny! I lost my daughter, and she just had hers!
I remember the nurse coming into the room with her baby, saying, 'Mrs so-in-so, here's your precious little daughter.' I looked at that baby, then looked at my niece, and with sobs, said, 'Mine is the one that died.'
The nurses felt so bad, and I started screaming hysterically. They shut the door while I banged my head against the wall, and I remember saying, 'This is it! I can't take it anymore! I don't know why you keep doing this to me, God! What are you doing to me?!
Somehow I managed to keep living. But something inside snapped and I decided from then on I was going to do things my way (as if I hadn't been already!) I left my husband; I wanted nothing to do with him after that. The alcohol ran rampant after that. Cocaine came into my life. I married an old boyfriend on the rebound.
Yet so often, I thought, this is life? Now I find out I can't have children. Seven major operations. I find out I have cancer and they give me three months to live. This is life?
I start talking to God again: I try taking my life by suicide and it doesn't work?! Now you're taking me like this?! I don't want to die this way. Why, God, why? I don't want to die now.'
My mother sent for a preacher to pray for me. I was anointed with oil; I didn't know what that meant, and was given communion.
I thought, well, I guess this is it. I have three months to live.
A lady down the street began talking to my brother and his wife about the Lord during that time, and I became very negative about it. 'This woman hangs out at your house all day long, and she's Pentecostal to boot. She's got this weird hairdo, and way too out their on the fringe for me. These people are weird people, I'm telling you. I just don't want to be around when she's there at your house.'
I would be high when I was there, so I couldn't relate to any of this, and when I was over there, she would just sit there and tell of the love of Jesus, and I would think: Yeah, right! Let me tell you about my life, and I'll tell you what I think of 'the love of Jesus!' What he let me go through! You want me to tell you about the times I tried to commit suicide and couldn't?! You want me to tell you about times I've come close to death; the times I've been beaten; raped at the age of 19 and my mother said I deserved it. Yeah lady, you want to hear about all these things God did to me? I don't think so!
But this lady from down the street kept ministering to my sister-in-law, and then my sister-in-law started going to church. As I watched her, I couldn't believe the difference I began to see in her. Her children began talking about the devil and God and Jesus.
I began thinking: I believe she's in a cult. I told her, 'You know, your kids are talking about the devil. Churches don't talk about that. They just tell you stories about God. You know, they tell you Jesus died for you, Jesus loves you.'
I remember this lady's husband dropped in one time, and I looked him up and down and thought: Not bad. And I let him and his wife know it! She was so embarrassed. I was stoned. I looked at a man for one reason: To be held and have sex. That's all I knew.
Yet while I kept him 'in my sights', he would share the love of the Lord with me. And I would think: This dude has lost it!'
He would start telling about things he used to do in his past, and Jesus delivered him from them all. To that I thought: Oh yeah, Jesus can just bring you out of it in a magic moment, right?!
"I know about God. I went to a parochial school and church. don't understand what you are talking about!"
'I know about God. I went to a parochial school and church. I don't understand what you are talking about!'
Well, my sister-in-law kept going to church and my brother stopped drinking with me, and I knew something wasn't right now! I said, 'You don't drink a beer with me any more. You don't smoke a joint with me anymore. I mean, one cold brew on a Saturday afternoon: is that going to be hard?'
'I dunno, Sis. We went to this church, and, and I've been going. I wish you'd go with me.'
I snapped back angrily, 'Look - I tried to get you to go to church with me when mom and dad passed away, and you wouldn't go.'
'Well, Sis. But that's not the kind of church I go to now. This church, I mean, they clap their hands.'
I quickly shot back before he could even finish: 'Oh gawwwd! How nice! Clapping? I suppose they dance too! Mike, let me tell you about this 'church.' They're a cult! I've heard about them.'
He said, 'But Sis, I can't explain to you.'
Time went by, and one day he told me he was 'born again.' When I heard that, I rolled my eyes and said, 'Oh gawwwwd. Get my brother out of this ' 'devil,' 'born again' 'Jesus' 'bigGGG change' HAAAAAAAAAAAA!'
'Why don't you come to church with me, Sis?' He wouldn't back off.
'Look Mike, those people down the street have lost it. Talking about all this stuff like 'the devil,' and being "born again,' 'and filled with the Holy Spirit,' look, the Holy Spirit is only part of God. He doesn't swoop down and suck into your body and make you change!'
He answered, 'Well, He did with me.'
I said, 'Well is that why you aren't drinking anymore? Whose decision was this? You won't even have a beer with me anymore. You won't even get high with me anymore This church that you're going to, have you even checked it out?!
He said, 'Well, I've looked in the Bible ''
'And what does it tell you?!'
'Have you ever read the Bible, Sis?'
I said, 'Well in school I knew the catechism and the 10 commandments, and the stuff you're hearing is not true.'
He answered, 'Yes it is true. I'm going to show you John 3:5.' He whipped the pages open and I looked down at where he was pointing, and I read:
'You must be born again to enter the Kingdom of heaven.'
He asked, 'Are you going to heaven, Sis?'
A bit taken back, I replied, 'Well,I thought I was yesterday. I don't know about today, now. To be honest, it scares the hell out of me to think about it!'
He said, 'Well that's what we are supposed to scare out of you, Sis.'
I thought, I don't know where he's getting all this, but when I come down off this high, I've got to look into this further. (You have to understand that I had burned my nose out from taking so much cocaine in the past, having to have sinus surgery to try to patch it up a little. I had just snorted moments before, and drinking a fifth of vodka a day along with it, I didn't trust my judgment.) But something inside me wanted to know more.
I said, 'Mike, maybe - maybe, I'll go to church with you. Just to see what this 'devil stuff' and this 'Spirited filled stuff is, just to make you feel good.'
After that, I had an all-night party one Saturday evening, and that Sunday morning it was close to 'going to church time.' I looked in the mirror and thought,I'm going to go to this church. I put on a little make-up, put a dress on, and called Mike up and told him I was going.
He exclaimed, 'Oh glory to God!'
I rolled my eyes, wagged my head a little, and responded sarcastically back, 'Ohhh glory to God! I'm going to church! Aren't you happy?! You don't drink beer with me anymore, so I'm going to check this church out.'
I was close to age 40 then. I had already planned suicide. There was no more drugs to take that I wasn't already taking. No more alcohol to drink than what I was already drinking. No one else to sleep with that I could think of. There was nothing else I knew of to turn to, and I thought 'there has got to be something else.'
I walked into the church, and my brother excitedly said, 'Oh good! Pastor Bill Trim is speaking today!'
Sarcastically, I responded back, 'Ohhhh glory to gawwwdddd.' You know, how they go 'Hallelujah!' and all that.
I sat there looking, and this guy was a cop. He was a detective on the Grand Rapids, Michigan police force. He started preaching, and ohhhhh, good night, they were up there on stage jumping and clapping their hands, and I thought I was at a Detroit Pistons' basketball game. You know, no hoop on the wall, but these people were jumping, and I thought cynically, well, they've got something going; I'm just not sure what?
Naturally, when you don't know about Jesus Christ like I didn't ' you check things out. mean, I knew about 'God' in church, and we checked that out, but when we left church, we left God there.
So I keenly watched these people. They were talking different: Ha! They called it 'prayer language.' And they had their hands in the air, just whopping it up, jumping on stage, and they were like doing, rock-n'-roll, baby. I had never sung out of anything but a hymnal, and they weren't using any hymnals!
I asked Mike, 'Why are these people acting like this?'
"Because they are praising God, Sis. They've got a reason to act like this."
Again, sarcastically, I said, 'Oh yeah! Sure, here we Go, 'Praissssseeeeee the Lorrrrrddddd!' I couldn't pass up the opportunity to mock the whole thing.
Well, the following Sunday, something just came over me, and I knew I was supposed to go back to church. (I know now it was the Holy Spirit, but I didn't know that at the time). But another part of me thought, 'Sure, right!' I mean, I had gotten stoned the night before, this was every day;every night. Everyday was get-stoned day. Sunday was my day to start out with Bloody Mary's around 8 a.m. Have people over later, toke up and snort up, and just finish out the rest of the day staying stoned because no one had to work.
So for me to go back to church that morning - there was a battle raging in my mind. I listened to this cop telling his story about when he was laying in bed, drunk, and all the things he would go through and all the people he was dealing with, laying their drunk, and this fan is spinning around, and he's looking up, and he puts one foot on the floor to try to keep his composure, and trying to get up but he can't, because he's so loaded, and I thought, Wow. Hmmm - I just did that last night! This guy has to know. I mean, I just did this last night! Why is he talking about this?
He continued to share about many of the people he dealt with on his job, on the street, that he would have to take to jail. People who were overdosed. People he would find dead. He was talking about the very world I lived in; the people who were my friends.
When he got done sharing ' he looked around the crowd, and said, 'The Holy Spirit is talking to me', (and immediately I think, Ohhh gawddddd, the Holy Spirit is talking again, here goes) - He's telling me that there's someone here who needs the Lord.'
I looked at my brother and I said both perplexed but with sarcasm, 'Does this guy know? Does this guy know that I'm not 'bornnnnNNN again?'
He said, 'I didn't say anything to him, Sis.'
'Oh yeah you did because he's looking right at me!'
'He is not.'
'He is too! And he's going to want me to go up front of all these people, and they're all going to start throwing their hands on me and, and I'm not going through that, I'm telling you!'
So I just stood there. And he said, 'Then you don't have to.'
I asked, 'Did you?'
He said, 'Well, I cried.'
I exclaimed, 'You cried?! We're not allowed to cry, Mike! When did you cry?'
He answered back, 'Well - when I got born again.'
'You did? I mean, like tears? Get outta' here!'
'Did that guy pray for you?' I asked, referring to Pastor Trim.
Then something, like a bolt of electricity or something, I can't explain it really - went through me at that moment, and my legs started shaking uncontrollably and then the rest of my body began to tremble as well. As I'm standing their totally dumbfounded as to what was happening to me, I'm thinking, Oh no, he's going to come over here and say something -- these people are going to whoop down and me and say, 'You're not born again; don't you want to be?' I just know it. I just know it! Oh God, don't let them do this to me; don't let them do this to me.'
The service was almost over, and Pastor Trim looked at me, and said, 'If you want me to pray for you, raise your hand.'
I'm thinking: What's up with that?! If I lift my hand, he's going to come running down and do something, and the rest of these people will come at me too. I know how these people are!'
I continue thinking, with a mind battle for my very soul (though of course I didn't realize it at the time): I know how these people are. I mean, they are talking about Jesus and the devil, how more obvious can it be?! I was never taught this in church before when I was younger. I know they are weird! I am not going through with this!
"C'mon - let's get out of here!"
I quickly said to my brother, 'C'mon, let's get out of here!'
Mike replied, 'Well now - just wait a minute ''
Pastor Trim came walking down, and asked, 'Did you want me to pray for you?'
I said, 'Well I guess it's done, isn't it? I raised my hand. So I'm likeeee 'bornnnnn againnnn' right?'
He just kind of smiled at me, and asked, 'Well, did you want to be?'
He then reached over to touch me, I'm assuming to pray for me. I quickly pulled my hand back and said, 'Don't touch me!' I was so scared.
He then reached out with open arms, not to touch me, but in a gesture of love and acceptance, if I wanted it.
When he did that, you know what I did? I lunged forward and wrapped my arms around him and I began sobbing uncontrollably.
That is not the me I am, I'm thinking, while this is happening! This was showing a moment of weakness in me. Others can see me weak. I've got to be strong! What's wrong with you, anyway Rae?!
He then softly and kindly said, 'Just repeat after me a simple prayer.'
I said, 'But I'm born again. I raised my hand, right?'
He replied, ', if you want to be truly born again, it means asking Jesus to be the Lord of your life.'
I said, 'But I know God. I'm, I'm a Christian. I mean, I went to church. I'm going to heaven.'
Very matter-of-factly he responded, 'Do you know that you are?'
I said, 'Well YEAH, until I read that scripture that says you gotta' be born again ...'
To that he replied, 'Do you want to get born again?'
I said, 'Well, yeah, I'm here, aren't I?!' I might as well go through with it, now that you've got hold of me' sort of nervously laughing. Even as I said that, I was thinking: Lord, just don't let them zap anything on me. I was so scared, I mean, I was scared of the unknown, not realizing that demon forces in the spirit realm were using my fear of the unknown to try to keep me from fully giving my all to God at that moment.
Pastor Bill prayed, and I repeated after him. When I prayed that prayer with him, it is so hard to describe what went on inside me. Bu,' it was like an old part of me died, and was replaced by something new. It was both scary at the beginning, yet so exhilarating as the moments unfolded!
And once I finished praying the prayer with him, I'm thinking: Wow! This is so wonderful! How could I have been so scared of this?! I was so alive. For the first time in my life, I felt alive in a way I had never known, ever before.
Not here is the most hilarious thing. I was a bartender at the time this happened. So after becoming spiritually born again, I continued going back to my job tending bar. It was at a high-class bar. There was a lot of elite, wealthy people who frequented it. I was telling everyone, 'Hey, I'm born again!' And they would tell each other, laughingly: 'Hey ' check it out! Rae says she's born again!'
When I would put a drink in front of them, many would ask: 'Rae ' where have you been? What in the world has happened to you? Are you okay?'
I told them, 'I went to this church,you're not going to believe this, but, something wonderful happened! I just can't explain it, but something so wonderful happened. Like, I got a major cleansing inside. It's like I feel so, so clean, so fresh, it's just so awesome!'
Of course, they tried to spare my feelings, but you could see how perplexed they were about it. 'Oh, well that's nice, Rae. That's nice for you.' One customer gave me $500, saying: 'I'm so happy for you Rae. You know, I go to church too Rae, but I don't get radical about it.'
I asked boldly, "But are you born again?"
With a sober scowl on his face, he asked, 'Well now Rae, what church are you going to?'
Excitedly, I replied, 'Ohh, it's one of those, mmmm'. You know, Assembly of God, ummmm, you know, Assembly of God churches.'
He said, 'Aren't they 'uh' Charismatic?'
I replied, 'I don't know, but - you know ... I'm serious man. You guys got to learn about becoming born again. You have to be to get into heaven. It says so right in the Bible, in John 3:5. It's so wonderful once it happens!'
I look back at it, and I was unaware at the time of just how much the Holy Spirit was using me to plant and water seeds of truth to those people in that setting. I simply was so happy to be born again, I couldn't keep it inside. These were my 'friends,' and I wanted to share my joy with them. I wanted them to see that they had believed some wrong things about what it fully means to be a 'Christian.' Being born again is not optional to God. You can't find that option in the Bible. Becoming fully born again is 'normal' Christianity: not something to be afraid of, or to be dismissed, let alone never to be talked about in so many churches today. For goodness sake, you would think it must be the ultra-secret unforgivable sin, or something.
After about a week of sharing with people there at the bar, I went home one night and cried, 'God ' they don't understand.' Then I thought to myself, Well Rae, you went 40 years without knowing or caring either. You mocked it as some cultic fanaticism. What can you expect?
I began to read the Bible from cover to cover as the days went by. I could hardly believe what I began to discover was in there! In feasting on the spiritual food in the Bible, it began to dawn on me, a fuller reality that Jesus died on the cross for me. It took my punishment on the cross so I wouldn't be punished for eternity. That simply became so amazing ' so stunning to me. How had I missed that when I was younger? Or had I heard it, but my hardened, angry heart kept me from receiving it?
As the days passed, the Holy Spirit began to convict me of my need to give up sinful habits, sinful addictions, sinful relationships. They obviously weren't good for my spiritual growth. I won't go into all the things it involved here, because already I realize how long this is. But suffice to say, God worked with me at a level I was able to receive, and in due time I was set free from my addictions, which included sex out of marriage. I began to realize that my body was the temple of the Holy Spirit, and I needed to start living like it was, completely.
Before sharing any further, I need to say this: I lived 40 years being dead, spiritually, and most of that time, emotionally in pain. Oh yeah, I had a touch of religion all right, but not spiritual life that brought any joy or peace with God. There is a HUGE gulf between having 'religion,' and 'spiritual life.' Having real spiritual life is being excited about what is in the Bible. It's being excited about one's relationship with God. It's being excited about looking for opportunities God gives a person to share the importance of becoming spiritually born again with others, because it's the difference between going to heaven or hell. It's nothing to stay silent about at all! It's being excited about so many things that are important to God ' yet was not important to me at all those first 40 years. When I truly allowed God to have all of me, all of my life, to have absolute assurance that I was truly and fully born again, wanting all of the Holy Spirit that was available to me - to anyone - as well, I began to experience life unlike ever before. I had joy and peace I didn't know was possible, without trying to induce it with drugs and sex. This new life was so wonderful!
Let me say one other thing about 'religion' verses 'spiritual life with Jesus Christ.' Religious people 'go' to church. Truly born again Christians have 'church,' wherever they are! There's a huge difference. (I'm not speaking against 'going' to church. Any place the whole Bible is being taught that lines up with the main-line Protestant teachings of Christianity, and people are encouraged by the church leadership to be studying the Bible themselves as well, frequently, that is so beneficial. But if there is no personal excitement about walking with the Holy Spirit when a person leaves 'church services,' especially the other six days of the week, there may very well be a lot more 'religion' in it than true 'spiritual life.' 'Religion' is the devil's counterfeit to 'spiritual life in one's personal relationship with Jesus Christ.' If this is foreign to you, seek God with all your being, trusting Him to reveal to you the difference. It is so important that you understand the difference.
One more thing. No one had been lying to me about a person can know where they will go once they die. A confidence, an assurance inside me came with becoming born again. I absolutely knew where I would go once I died. I knew heaven would be my home, with God forever. No one had to try to convince me of it; no one had to try to make me believe it, there just came a peaceful knowing that heaven would be my home upon dying.
Oh yeah, I came to the realization there is a devil also. That there are real demons that serve him, trying to hinder any of us to tap into the spiritual life that Jesus has available to those who desire it. Oh yeah, the devil is as real as God is real, and I discovered that behind the scenes, in the spiritual dimension, a battle is raging for the lost souls of mankind. A battle is raging to keep 'Christians' deceived, blinded. A battle is raging to steal peace and joy and power from 'Christians,' so they live in misery more than they experience joy and peace they first experienced when they first turned their lives over to Jesus Christ. Oh yeah, the devil and demons are real, alright. You can't see them, but once you get your nose into the Bible and you purpose to start trying to please God by obeying what the scriptures say, you'll find out just how intense this battle is! It's the same battle the first Christians experienced after Jesus resurrected. Most were severally persecuted by the "religious people" for their faith in Jesus Christ. It isn't going to stop until Jesus returns and deals with demonic powers fully and locks them up in hell where they can't influence us any more.
God did so much after I became born again. Here is just one of many miracles that God did in me. Prior to being born again, I had grown to have a secret hatred for children. I wanted nothing to do with them. I knew I had to get a different job than tending bar though, because it just wasn't a place I found enjoyable to work at any longer. Part of the reason was because my boss didn't want me talking about Jesus so much to his customers, and their need to be born again. I refused to stay silent about it.
Of all the jobs God could open up for me, can you imagine: Being a bus driver of kids!? Go ahead and laugh. Oh yeah, I had a hard time believing going into it this is what God truly had for me, but after a lot of squirming and fussing on my part, a job opened up driving a bus. Yet part of my concern for taking the job was that I had a bad temperament for kids. I didn't want to hurt anyone. I mean, I was used to grabbing hold of someone and trying to rip their head off and walking away without any remorse. I didn't know if I could trust myself by flying off the handle with some kid misbehaving, so I turned it over to the Lord to take care of.
I got on that bus. I was freaking out.
I mean, the first thing I do when I drive off the lot was smacked something and knocked a mirror off the bus! I was so fearful, and I continued to intensely pray for the Lord's help. He did help.
Part of my bus route was in the very, very poor part of town, the ghetto, in other words. One kid pulled a knife out on me. I had kids in the back of the bus having sex. I had young kids threatening to kill one another. Everything imaginable happened, you could just about say, transporting those kids. Yet one thing I knew for certain: every one of these children needed Jesus. Most of the kids hadn't even heard of Him, at least about the relationship with Jesus I had come to know, and He wants others to know about.
At different times I would ask certain kids, 'Hey ' do you go to church? I'm born again. Do you know what that means?' Most of the kids could care less, and would refer to me as one of those 'Jesus freaks.' I got called into the office more than once for witnessing the truth about the need to be born again. 'Uh - Rae ' you can't be singing religious songs on the bus either.'
'Why? Why can't I sing what I want to sing? I'm not singing about having illicit sex, and hating and killing cops and all that violence crap.'
They told me about, separation of church and state issues, of course. I'd lose it and say, 'Yeah, well there's not separation between God and me.' My boss would say, 'Rae, we know what you're like. We all know you around here, but you've got to be careful.'
I said, 'Well, then I'm going to check with every one of the parents.'
I prayed: 'Father, I ask you to grant me favor with this whole ordeal.'
He did. Every parent gave me their approval to share the love of Jesus with their children.
Every three year old kid up on that bus knew every song on the Christian praise tape I played on the bus. Kid songs like, 'I like the Bible; I like the Bible -- it's made a change in me, praise the Lord!'
They would have their little hands up; they would watch me praise God, and join right in many times.
Why be so 'fanatical' about my relationship with Jesus Christ, someone might be wondering as they read this? The years and years of rejection, especially growing u,' I found out God Himself loves me and accepts me unconditionally. He proved it by dying on the Cross in my place. He took My punishment for my sins when He didn't have to. He gave His life for me that I might have eternal life with Him forevermore. I'm to stay silent about that?! I don't think so! Oh sure, the devil wants me staying silent about it. And people who aren't born again want me staying silent about, but I don't care what they think about it. I care what God thinks about it. He's the one who proved His love by giving His life for me. I never had to have sex with Him to get that love and acceptance. I didn't have to pay Him to try to get it. I didn't have to NOTHING to get it, other than accept the free gift of eternal salvation that the Bible promises is available for anyone who desires to have it. The free gift of having all of one's sins forgiven, so nothing stands in the way between them and God. I'm to stay silent about that?! I think NOT!
These kids that rode on my bus, some of them didn't have breakfast before going to school, they were so poor. I started buying breakfast for them at times, just because it gripped my heart to see kids with empty tummies. I would bring lunches for them. Other drivers would say, 'Rae, you can't do that. They don't want you doing that.'
But these weren't just 'unfortunate kids.' I saw myself in so many of those kids. This was me growing up. I saw me in them. I saw the rejection in them; the lack of love and acceptance; the home environments they were in that was only preparing them to be emotionally handicapped, many of them becoming violent and placing no value on life as they got older, more vulnerable to every kind of evil the devil and this world has to offer.
There was a little four year old girl who rode my bus: She confided in me about having to sleep with her father every night and let him have sex with her. Thank God I never had to experience anything like that, but it nearly broke my heart when I heard about it.
I was going through a great deal of emotional pain about all this, and I remember one time I cried out to God: 'God, I've got to see your compassion, somehow, for these children. I simply have to.' It was beginning to nearly break my heart.
In the dead of winter, this same little four year old girl got on the bus. She was wearing a little cotton skirt, and just a light, spring jacket, and I prayed. I mean, I prayed, and I cried, for that child, for weeks. I said one time, 'Lord, do you want me to adopt her? Do you want her to move in with me? Do you want me to do something for her? I don't know what to do? Now Lord, I'm not sure how to pray right about this, but this little girl needs some boots. She needs a hat. She needs a scarf. I'll go buy it for her if you want me to. She needs that father to quit sleeping with her, God, and I don't have control of that. I just want to beat him, but I know that's not what you want me to do either.'
When we got to school one day, I knew of this teacher that was filled with the Holy Spirit, who loved Jesus with everything in her being and was very bold about her relationship with the Lord. I asked her if she would come on my bus and we could pray for that child together. She agreed.
"God ... I ask to see a miracle today."
We prayed. I said, 'God, I ask to see a miracle today.
Well, I started to pull away with my bus and two teachers came running out of the school, waving at me to stop. They yelled, 'Come here, here! Come see this!' I went inside the school with them, and this little girl was kneeling down at a table.
That morning, about half an hour before my bus came in, a woman who knits and crochets, who was a Christian, the Holy Spirit told her that somebody needed something at the school.
And I walked up to this little girl, she was sitting there, looking up at me, and she said with this beaming smile on her face: 'Miss Rae, look! I got a new scarf and I have new boots, and I have mittens to keep my hands warm!'
The principal of the school just stood there looking at me, in unbelief. And I said, through tears, 'I want you to know that you tease me about being born again, and about knowing Jesus Christ. Well, I want you to know that half an hour ago I prayed that this child would have boots and mittens, gloves and a hat, and praise God, she got a scarf too and I didn't even ask for it!'
She came over and put her arms around me and said, 'Miss Rae, it's new stuff!'
And I said, 'Jesus is good, because that's what Miss Rae prayed for you.'
She replied, with big eyes, 'ReallllllY?!'
I said, 'Really! Jesus loves you so much, sweetheart.'
She said, 'Oh Miss Rae, this is the happiest day of my life!'
Teachers who were not even Christians stood around that child and began crying. I said, 'I want you to know, this is the love of God. I don't care how much you tease me, I know that love. I was 40 years without it, and I'm going to give as much of it away as possible my next 40 years. I'm going to take all God has got for me, because He's a Father and a Mother, I never had. He's a giver. He gave me the gift of life - to pass on to others like this little girl.'
The kids, they wanted hugs from me. 'Miss Rae ' give me a hug! I need someone to love and hug me.' Can you imagine? Me giving kids hugs! I hated kids, remember? I couldn't stand to be touched, remember, unless it was sexual? I was rejected by my parents, so I'm going to reject others! I even believed God had rejected me all those many years, but He hadn't. He kept me from taking my life over and over. Had He allowed me to, I know I would have ended up in hell. But He wasn't going to force me to accept truth either in the Bible. He wasn't going to force me to become born again. He knew it was going to take 40 years before I would get desperate enough to want it -- more like surrender my selfish will to it!
How many years will it take for you to get desperate enough - maybe courageous enough - uhhh ... humble enough ... to be born again, if you're not yet? How much pain is God going to have to allow in your life before you are willing to surrender completely to the Lordship of Jesus Christ? It took me 40 years. I'm so glad it didn't take 80 years, but I was a hard nut to crack, I realize! Stubborn and self-willed with a chip on my shoulder, heart hardened because of my bitterness and accusations toward God, starving for love and acceptance but grew to believe Satan's lie that it was not attainable, and I didn't even deserve it anyway - if somehow it was attainable.
Maybe you feel the same way. Maybe you've been lied to your whole life as well. No one loves me; everyone ends up using me and rejecting me. I'm just worthless, so I might as well go kill myself. Take more drugs to deaden the pain. Go have crazy sex. Eat some more. Starve myself. Anything, to stop the pain. Well I'm here to tell you, someone does love you; someone does accept you, just the way you are. Someone proved how much He loves and accepts you, by dying on the Cross in your place. But God knows all of that is only comforting if you allow His Spirit to come and live inside you. To bring your dead spirit to life, a life your spirit has never known. It all STARTS by first becoming spiritually born again. It starts by desiring a personal relationship with the living God more than you want anything else on this planet. I would just be lying to you if I said anything differently.
The kids asked me to pray for all kinds of things for them after that. One way or the other, He answered them. It wasn't in my time, of course, but His time is always the perfect time.
We have to learn that about God. His time incorporates the lives of so many people around us; it involves circumstances and events we aren't able to see. All we can see is what we think we need and God has the power to make it happen, so 'Let's get to it, God!' Not quite always that simple. God loves us too much to give us every thing we want, when we want it. Many times He withholds from granting our requests, because He has something much more important in mind that He usually doesn't reveal to us at the time. Much about this life is character building in our lives. God is more interested in our 'character growth' than He is granting us our every prayer request. Trials and hardships are allowed in each of our lives, some much more painful than others I realize for different people, but we always have a choice in the matter to do one of two things: Stay angry to different degrees at God, or trust that He knows what He's doing.
I was angry at God for my first 40 years, for the most part. What did it get me? I can't afford to be angry at God if He gives me another 40 years. There are too many people out there who are crying out for love and acceptance just like I was, and now that I've discovered God loves and accepts me because I accepted fully what Jesus Christ offers humanity, I have to pass along this life and truth to others. It will set you free to be used of the Holy Spirit to keep on giving the gift this world so desperately needs, the gift of eternal life Jesus died for it, so you and I could have it. It's free on His part: Incredibly costly when you try to measure just how resistant we are because of our pride and self-will.
How bad you want everything God has available to you? You'll never be in a position to fully know until you become born again. That is where it starts ...
You won't even make it to heaven ... unless you're born again. Don't fool yourself. Being born again is not optional, if you want to stay out of hell for eternity.
Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. You can even have that assurance RIGHT NOW! Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you...please don't make such a tragic mistake.
To get to know God, to be at peace with God, to have your sins forgiven, to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity, to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help you understand the importance of being reconciled to God. What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one. Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life, because in Christ, it is impossible to put a value on the worth of your soul in light of eternity.