Commit Your Way to the Lord
As I struggled with how to begin writing my testimony, I realized that if I were sitting across the kitchen table from you, sipping tea and eating shortbread cookies, I would have no trouble at all. So I decided to put my imagination to use and pretend just that. So, how about a cup of Earl Grey?
For starters, let me sum up my childhood very briefly. I was a really strange kid! I was partly the product of strange genes, partly a strange upbringing in an alcoholic family, and of course put that together with the misuse by Satan, and what do you get? A recipe for S-T-R-A-N-G-E. In short, I was extremely shy and awkward, self absorbed and introspectivea real joy to be around! I would make people feel extra comfortable as I stared at them in silence with huge fear-stricken eyes. Unpopular in school (I never put forth one ounce of effort to be anything but) and uninvolved in anything extracurricular if I had my way, I was nonetheless not miserable enough to pursue anything different for my life for a very long time. Strange and self-centered as I was, for as long as I can remember, I had a knowledge and fear of GodI knew that He was the boss, and that I wasnt. I had grown up in a churchgoing family, so I was well acquainted with the stories about Jesus. I was very serious about my religion growing up, and was always very concerned about whether God was happy with me. I understood that sin had consequences, and was not thrilled at the prospect of having any. So much of my understanding of being a person of God had nothing to do with a personal relationship with the Saviorit was about staying out of trouble, and following the rules.
I became a Christian in my first year of college. I had been pressured for nearly a year by my older sister to consider accepting Christ as my personal savior. What she was telling me was foreign to meafter all, I already believed in Jesus, what more was there to do? She was like a dog with a bone, and I finally agreed to accompany her to an Intervarsity Christian Fellowship meeting at the college. Once there, it was apparent that the joke was on me, and I was drawn to the Life that others there were experiencing in a way that I had not. I decided to give it a try, and thus began a journey that has changed my life.
When I first became a Christian, I experienced a joy in my life that I had never hadI suppose it was a honeymoon of sorts. It was during this time that I discovered the Bible and wanted nothing more than to talk about my new-found relationship with Christ. I attended a charismatic church and was full of hope for my life. That lasted about a year and a half. Then, bad (sinful) choices and inadequate spiritual guidance led me down a very difficult and painful road. When I was 18, I met a boy that I dated on and off for a very tumultuous 5 years. I must say, I met my match where strange was concerned! Moreover, he also was the product of an alcoholic family, and was a very angry person, locked up in a world of pain and self-consciousness. Our relationship was fraught with immoral behavior, frustration, promises to God to do better, failure, despairet cetera. I broke it off many times, only to find myself unwilling to maintain a boundary. I felt unable to stay apart from him for any length of time; then, we got married when I was 23. In a year and a half, we were two of the most miserable people you ever came acrossboth of us trapped in a marriage that was far from what I knew God intended marriage to be. I knew that I was to blame for much of my own painso I did just thatblamed myself. But I also bitterly blamed my husband, and was eaten up with resentment and self-pity. I didnt know what to do, and was very well aware that my faith in God and the doctrines I believed were not cutting the mustard. I knew that the problem was really inside of me, and it was not Gods fault.
It was at this time that I got to know Sanda Cooper. I had attended a few conferences where our local New York fellowship had gotten together with the Zerubbabel fellowship. I had been introduced to the message of no independent self and believed it intellectually, but found my experience did not match up with it. Sanda caught me in a very desperate moment, and I am not sure what she said, or how, but the Spirit of God touched me and began to soothe my troubled heart so that I could begin to absorb, not just intellectually, but deep within, the truths that had already transformed others lives who had embraced it before me.
My life did not change overnight. For another six years, I lived mostly in fear and cowardice in my home (a very striking Christian witness!) I desperately wanted peacewithin myself, and in my marriage. My mistake and sin was to pursue a false outer peace in the relationshipone that Satan offered and I was happy to acceptat the expense of the true peace that God provides when we follow Him without compromise. The joke was that I thought that since we were not yelling at each other we were at peace. In reality, there was a silent war raging twenty four hours a day. I was full of fear and compromise.
When my son was born in 1995, things deteriorated further. My husband informed me that he was, in essence, over and out, not part of the team. He had been following the path of least resistance all these years by staying married to me etc., etc. And now he was leaving. I found myself powerless to let goto just be Gods person, regardless of the response it gained, and I begged God to do for me what I could not do for myself.
Shortly thereafter, I was by myself, with a new infant. My husband wanted an amicable divorce. (He has since married the woman that he insisted he was not involved with at the time he left.) I accepted responsibility for much of what went wrong, and I wished desperately that I could undo my part in it. Much of it was also a result of Satans grip on my husbands life because of his unwillingness to make Christ the Lord of his life, thereby giving Satan free reign to do his deeds through him.
In the following months, which turned into years, the truths that I had been continuing to hear and embrace became life changingmoving from academic exercise to the very thing that I depended on to get me through my days. I learned so much from my fellowship family. They taught me how to raise my child as they continued to raise me. They taught me that Christ/Colette is not a wimp, but has been given a Spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Even with all of this, there was still something very critical left to see. (Though I knew that I was a sinner, I never had seeneven with all of my sin choicesto the depths, how rotten I was.) I still unconsciously considered myself a responsible, kind and gentle person of integrity and uprightness. Who was I kidding? After I publicly ripped a dear friend to shreds one night in a cruel and humiliating confrontation, I had a glimpse of the stink that was really living inside of me. I told God that I did not want to go any further. I finally knew that I was evil through and through, my hair follicles to my heels, but I was terrified to face myself. I also told God, once again, that if He would do for me what I could not do (go through the pain of selfexposure), and make me willing, then OK. That sleepless night, God presented me to myself in living color, and I saw how utterly sinful, prideful and self-righteous I was, and how I deserved the punishment that Jesus took for me. I soberly took stock of my life and depended on Christ moment by moment to live a different sort of life through meHis life. My righteousness filthy rags. His righteousness clear, clean and sharp. I consider this the point at which my life really began to change.
Since then, I have had a major career change, from nursing to interior design, a switch that was encouraged and made possible by my Zerubbabel family, and which required every ounce of faith to overcome the fear and inadequacy I felt. There were many times that I needed the help, encouragement, and reproach of my friends times when I chose fear instead of faith, thereby inviting Satan into my life to control me and make me useless in Gods kingdom. When I chose out of unbelief, I began to love life, as I trusted God at the turns and twists down this new road. I found myself doing things that amazed even mehunting down contractors at their building sites, contacting strangers for business opportunities, meeting architects which brings me to the next chapter.
I met with an architect about 11/2 years ago at the suggestion of my small business counselor. He became a mentor in business, and I respected him for how he treated others and for how he conducted himself professionally. It was not long before he expressed an interest in me personally, and as I was loathe to mess up my life which I was thoroughly enjoying, I did not exactly jump at his invitations. I made it quite clear to him (I am sure I seemed quite rude!) that I did not date for datings sake, and that if there was going to be a relationship, it would be with someone who was headed in the same spiritual direction as I was. There, I thought, if that doesnt scare him off, nothing will. I was not into inflicting more pain on myself, my child and another person, and better not to get started at all. Again, the joke was on me! He not only wasnt scared, he was interested in what made me tick, what I believed, and asked me to explain it to him. In a matter of a few weeks, he had invited Christ into his own life, and in a few months was asking me to marry him. I did…or should I say, WE did…my 5 year old son insists that Paul has married both of us! And in a way he has. God has provided us with a very tenderhearted and kind soul to both be a companion for me, and a Christian father to my son. His words are constantly sprinkled with thanks to God for his life in Christ, for his new family, for the opportunity to live differently. He has been an incredible blessing to us, and I am so grateful to my Zerubbabel family for their encouragement and support to both of us, and the part they played in getting my life on track so that I could be ready to be the kind of wife for Paul that God intends for him to have. I realize that for now, while Paul is the business mentor, I am the spiritual mentor, and nothing has pleased me more than to see him relish our conversations, Bible reading times, and fellowship meetings.
There is hardly a day that goes by that I dont stop and think about how I got here and ponder where I am going. I am well aware that my strangeness, in right use, is really Christ expressing himself in my unique personality. Some of the quirks and oddities that are part of what make me who I am are the very things that attract those whom Christ is drawing to Himself through this vessel. I can, because of the experiences that have shaped me, identify with others who need answers just as I did.
So…while I may yet be a little strange, guess what? Here you are, still sitting across the table from me…and you know what they say…it takes one to know one! How about another cup?
Colette, an interior designer, lives with her husband, Paul, and son, Timothy (5), in Poughquag, New York. She is also a Zerubbabel Contact.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 17 No 2
- Our Foundations
- Editors Note
- Amazing Grace
- The Swaying Battle of Faith
- Zerubbabel Focus: The Book Ministry
- Tape Talk
- British Easter
- Commit Your Way to the Lord
- A Look at a Book
- BIBLE STUDY: MAN-A VESSEL
- Message from Norman
- A Movie Classic
- Garbage In… Garbage Out
- Gods Sovereignty in Success and In Failure
- Great is His Faithfulness