God’s Wonderful Plan
Northern Westchester County, rural New York. Can’t get any better than that for a kid. I lived there all of my childhood in a nice home, with lots of friends and 500 acres of woods and farmland in my backyard. I was the youngest of three boys. I was able to enjoy all the things offered someone growing up in this world. Like I said, couldn’t get any better than this…or could it?
I was brought up in the Roman Catholic Church: CCD (catechism classes) every Sunday and mass afterwards (Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton). If I was able to stay awake during class (I am hesitant to use the term "Bible study" because I don’t remember doing that), by the time I went to mass, I was pretty drowsy. My attention span was very short. However, before very long I could recite the mass word for word. I would say I was just going through the motions; I got the feeling that I had to be there, instead of wanting to be there. I was much more well-versed on the church’s missilette than on the Bible. Church became somewhat of a mystery to me. I believe I was being taught a religion, a belief in God, but there always seemed to be something missing. It seemed that things were never crystal clear–the why’s, the how’s, the significance. Was this my lack of interest? The presentation? Both? I don’t know. But for twenty years of going to church, I gained very little spiritually. Once I left home to live life as an adult, I stopped going to church.
A Crisis Gets My Attention
In 1993, my son, Matthew, had become terribly sick and was very close to death. He had contracted a disease known as Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome. Essentially, this is a bug that got down into his gut and broke down blood cells until certain functions of the body shut down. He was literally bleeding from the inside. Matthew was just three years old at the time. To backtrack a little, this all began when we were on our way from New York to Florida on vacation. Matthew felt ill in Atlanta and needed medical help. We found it in the Scottish Rite Children’s Medical Center, possibly one of the best children’s centers in the country. And we found a specialist for Matthew.
Why am I telling you this? This was the first time that I felt that there was something so much greater than anything I could do alone, or the doctors, or the facility. I know with full confidence that we were not directed to one of the best medical centers for children in the country or the best doctors in the country by mere coincidence!! Matthew had lived. At this time my wife Kathy had been saved, and she has since told me that she had left Matthew in God’s hands, and she knew it was a part of His plan. (Note: Joe Laffin, from Kathy’s Bible fellowship back in New York was down in Atlanta on business. He had never been to Atlanta for business before. Hmmmm….)
While we were down in Atlanta, Kathy received a letter from Colette Burger, another person from her fellowship. This letter was not meant for my eyes, so when I got to the part that said, "… well, hopefully this will change Chris"–well, you can imagine how I reacted. I said there was nothing wrong with me and "Who the hell does she think she is?" Well, Kathy told Colette that I had read the letter. Colette wrote another letter, this time to me. To this day there is one phrase that Colette wrote that I remember. Colette wrote, "So again if I believe this is true for me and my life has changed because of it, then of course I want this for all those that I care about." Okay, Colette, What do you have?
Since the time of Matthew’s illness, God was planting more seeds. The most significant came through Kathy. This turned out to be just as important to Kathy. Kathy and my son Matthew went to summer camp in Blowing Rock this past year. I was filled with resentment because I was feeling left out.
This was the key because now I was curious and I knew Kathy was serious. The period before this trip, I just thought Kathy was trying to get out of the house every Sunday going to what I called a Bible-thumping meeting with a couple more weirdos. Well, Kathy decided to fully commit despite my feelings and the possibility of rejection from me. This, in turn, made me start to think. I feel this was where I was turning the doorknob to the door of Eternal Life.
God Closes In
Here the miracle of God’s plan truly unfolds. Kathy invited me to a fellowship conference on November 11, 1995. This was the first time Kathy had invited me to a meeting of the fellow-ship. It’s a good thing–if she had asked me any sooner, I would not have come. I arrived that Saturday morning with my friend Bob, whom I had known for twenty-five years. Once inside, I felt almost immediately at ease. I was drawn to Brett Burrowes, who I found out would be leading the teaching. For the first time in my life I was hearing the Scriptures and under-standing it. I think the people in the room around me felt that I wasn’t getting it or I wasn’t interested, when in fact I was pulling in everything that I could. Thankfully, the focus was on my friend, Bob, because if the focus had been solely on me, I would have curled into a ball. I went home that night with hundreds of thoughts and feelings in my head. I was a little overwhelmed but knew the direction I wanted to go. I was quite clear on what I had been taught. I knew what I wanted. I just didn’t know how to get it.
That week consisted of a lot of thinking. This is what I thought: I had to be well-versed in the Bible, know the Ten Commandments by heart, attend church every Sunday, confess my sins, be baptized, leap tall buildings, jump through hoops–you get the picture. My thoughts kept coming back to how or why would Jesus accept a person who has sinned all his life. I wrestled with this all week. I did not feel worthy; I felt inadequate. I guess I was also waiting for some kind of sign or something. Boy, was Satan at work here. But I began to see from Scripture that we are created vessels–vessels created to contain spirit. Our problem is that we come here containing the wrong spirit. What we need is a change of spirits, the wrong spirit (Satan) replaced by the Holy Spirit.
The following Saturday, November 18, the fellowship gathered at our place. We had a nice dinner and settled down. At this point, Sanda asked me where I stood. What was I thinking? I told her I wanted to have what they have. Sanda told me all I had to do was profess my belief in Jesus Christ our Lord and our Savior and that He died on the cross for me, and by Grace He will forgive my sins. I said, "Oh, is that it? Then I want to do it." I can remember right up to this moment that Satan must have been freaking out because he was really throwing some stuff at me. Doubts were creeping in–things moving a little too fast here. The important thing to remember here is that I felt I was a pretty whole person living a pretty good life. So with the help of Brett, I professed my faith and the feeling I had was immediate. I felt much more than whole. I felt full, and I knew it was Christ’s Spirit in me. Colette wished me a Happy Birthday and everybody hugged me and I had never felt better in my life. I knew this was the most important part of my life. (Note: Colette was supposed to be out of town that weekend, but the trip was cancelled.)
In conclusion, although I am well aware that God led me to Him, I would like to thank the people who He helped lead me to Him:
My wife Kathy, whom I cannot thank enough. I look back at the years that she held her faith despite having no family support. My respect for her is immeasurable.
Brett Burrowes, whose teaching painted a very clear picture of what the truth is and what God’s message is really all about.
Sanda and Fowler Cooper, truly remarkable people who brought things down to a personal level for me.
Colette Burger, who wanted this for me as much as I did–and for being very honest and not afraid.
Joe and Sherryl Laffin, whose hospitality made me feel right at home and at ease.
Pat Mace, Becca Glaser, and Jan Stewart, who also made me feel at home and at ease–and also had some wonderful insight on a personal level.
The Lord Jesus Christ, my Savior, my life, my everything.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 12 No 1
- Editor’s Note
- Moments with Meryl
- Excerpt from The Intercession of Rees Howells
- Weekend in New York 1995
- The Letter to the Romans
- The Mailbox
- God’s Promises
- A Look at a Book
- Questions & Answers
- The Walk Through The Bible
- God’s Wonderful Plan
- New Light on the Twelve Steps
- Excerpt from After C.T. Studd
- Tape Talk
- Words to Live By