Saved by His grace in 1974, from 9 years of professing atheism into His loving arms. Living with my husband in the middle of a mountain meadow. GRIN! Wanting to spread the good news about His redemptive plan for our lives through written media.
Today, October 12, 2014, it is 40 years since I gave my heart and life to the Lord Jesus Christ... the following is that story. I praise His with all the breath I have....
Psalm 13:5 But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall
rejoice in Yoursalvation.
I had been a professing atheist for 9 years
(although we had been raised in
the Methodist church no one ever spoke about a personal relationship with
the Lord Jesus Christ.) So, even in conservative Iowa State it was easy
be challenged and decide God didn't exist. I knew in my heart of hearts
that if he did exist, I needed to be obedient to him and I wanted to do my
own thing so much I ignored logic and the Lord. Worst thing was I always
fell short of the standards I had set for myself. Drew lines in the sand
and proceeded to step over them time and again. I was not wild by the
world's standards but was not knowing the Lord at all.
This is a poem I wrote to explain my transition process:
ENCOUNTER WITH REALITY
I was walking in the mountains
Along a dusty, narrow road
Trying to get away from it all
I had been under quite a load
I guess work was tolerable
My love life was fine
I had some good close friends
Plenty of food and wine
Picked up that course I wanted
Had gotten off on astrology
Was into Women's Lib
And had passed geology
I finally weighed 122
Was making a lot of bread
Had a really great "old man"
But something was bothering my head
I stopped to look at the purple flowers
Paused at a crystal stream to drink
Was not sure where this was leading to
But knew I had to get away to think
My life seemed all together
It was really the best it could be
But I felt all tied up and restless
And was really itching to be free
Ok, now, wait a minute
Let me think and rearrange
What would I do differently
If I could have a magic change?
He and I would be in the woods
In a small A-frame cabin there
We'd have a dog and cats all around
And a garden...that was fair...
But every time I dreamed them up
(These dreams I liked to hoard)
I knew that in a couple of months
I'd be searching, restless and bored
Is that really all there is to life?
There must be something more
If I have everything I need and want
Then what's this emptiness for?
I scuffed my toe on a rock as I wandered on
And looked up in time to see
A ragged young man, with a sore on his hand
Coming down the path to me
Normally, I'd have been a little scared
But this guy was about my size
He smiled at me with the friendliest smile
But what really drew me were his eyes
It is hard to tell you much about them
They were the warmest hue
I know this doesn't make much sense
But they seemed ancient, yet sparkling new
He was dressed in a shirt tied round with a rope
Looked kind of like a blanket to me
With broken down sandals and dusty pants
I'd guess he was about 33
He nodded at me as he came close
"Out for a walk today?"
I told him I was doin' some thinking
And continued along my way
Somehow I knew he was still there
And I started to get a little huffy
This was supposed to be a solo walk
I was warmed by his voice, but still feeling stuffy
Before I could think up an excuse
He turned and caught up with me
"Do you feel all bound up and trapped
Like you're never going to get free?"
I stopped short and looked at him
And I felt Like blurting out "What's your scam?"
But something about him stopped me short
And I surprised myself with "I suppose I am"
I felt my stomach tied in knots
I'd been trying to keep this inside
With annoyance and exasperation I thought
"Well, what have I got to hide?"
We stopped for a moment and he gazed at me
"You know, there is a way"
I got all fired up and ready to reply
Then I forgot what I was about to say
Then I began to get really uptight
Words usually came easy for me
"I've tried a bunch of ways before
And none of them set me free."
then my gift of gab returned with a smile
Thought I'd get a chance to burn his ear
"I've tried dope and wine, people and places,
The US and Canada in my camping gear."
"I've been into clothes and nursing
To school and worked, been both far and near
Into astrology, psychology, biology, hey,
I'm no kid, I'm 27, I was even married for a year."
He stood there so patiently
Apparently waiting for me to go on
so, "I got divorced and dated a lot
And not I'm living with Tom..."
And he still stood there
Seeming so gentle and calm
I almost felt like a bulldozer
As I shifted gears and plowed on
"I've been 5 years in college
Got my AA degree
Have worked here and there
Whatever suited me...
Have been a volunteer
Given of my hours
Have walked in thunder
And played in showers...
Have loved a few people
Grown up a lot
Did meditation for awhile
And then a little pot...
Really like wine coolers
And outdoor mountain streams
Am fair at writing letters
Have written poetry by the reams..."
I paused for a moment
with it all passing in review
"I've done all I wanted
There isn't much that's new"
By this time I sat down
Feeling emptier inside
"I've done so much junk
There isn't much I haven't tried."
He picked up a rock beside me
And sat down, not too near
"Have you ever given much thought
As to why we're all here?"
Mentally I clicked off
That answer too
I had it all together, at least
I thought I did, before I met you...
"I guess I believe in superior life
And all that stuff about outer space
How they came here to teach us
And looked like gods to the human race"
"What about the Bible
How does that fit in?
How about Adam and Eve
And their original sin?"
Now you've really done it girl,
You've run into a religious kook
One who still believes in god
And that ancient "holy book"
I thought about telling him off
But before I could think of what to say
I glanced back into his face
His eyes clouded and looked far away
"Marijo, I knew you then
And I know you still
It was there I bled and died for you
Up on Calvary Hill"
I sat there with my mouth open
I never told him my name
I grew suddenly very quiet
This wasn't any game
I glanced at his raw hands
No, this couldn't be
I don't even believe in god
Let alone crucifixion on a tree
But something about his manner
Made me sit quite still
As I did I could almost see him
On that cross upon that hill
I looked into those soft brown eyes
My thoughts raced on and on
My life had been so empty
Could this really be god's only son?
Hey, come on, You're too smart for that
You don't really believe...
Wait a minute, shut up
The emptiness seemed relieved
The voice inside went on to say
Hey, you've dabbled in religions before
And when the novelty was over they've let you down
And have flown right out the door.
But I've never considered Jesus
And that the Bible might be true
"If you are who you say you are,
Then tell me what to do"
Suddenly I felt old and small
Even with new sweatshirt and pants
"If you are who you say you are,
Then please give me a chance?"
"there's so many things I've done
That I'm not proud of
I really goofed off and messed up a lot
And I actually don't deserve your love"
Inside me rang "I'm sorry"
But what was there to say
I looked at him, my tears running down
"Can you forgive me and show me the way?"
With a loving, forgiving smile he stood there
All white-robed radiant to see
"At last my child, this is your day
You now are truly free!"
"Jesus, Jesus you ARE real
And more alive than anyone could be!"
As he lifted heavenward he said
"Marijo, follow, follow ME!!"
I didn't actually meet a person on that mountain top but the Lord started
dealing with me that weekend and my thought processes are like those
recorded here. It was actually a matter of months before I realized God's
forgiveness and salvation plan for me but I am here to say that the man-God
I finally met is even more real than the one portrayed! PRAISE JESUS!
Began in the back yard and continued as I drove down to the main road - lasted a long time for a glorious sunrise and filled the sky - changing colors as I drove (stopping every few minutes~!) Our God is SOOO awesome!!!
It started out being a really good day – we splurged at
breakfast and had bacon, something we usually didn’t do. I was on my way to get
my hair a bit curlier with a perm.
“Hi, Marijo, please have a seat, would you like some
specialty coffee with creamer?”
“That sounds yummy, Linda, thanks…”
A bit later, what with the twists and turns and laying down
backwards into the shampoo bowl I was having some gastric reflux. Not a fun
thing but I had overdone it a bit on the fats that morning.
Perm was finished and I got into my truck. As I began the
drive home it felt like a hand had reached into my chest and was twisting and
squeezing. I also had pains radiating up my jaw. As an RN, the thought crossed
my mind that I might be having a myocardial infarction (heart attack) and that
I should not be going home but to the emergency room. Being a typical RN,
relatively stubborn regarding our own health issues and not believing it could
really happen to me, I drove home.
(I WILL GO ON RECORD HERE SAYING DO NOT TO AS I DID –
PLEASE, GET EVALUATED RIGHT AWAY…)
Somewhere in this process I decided to take an antacid. Just
about as soon as I swallowed and it “hit bottom” I felt relief – the pain
subsided in the chest and in my jaw and teeth.
I called my MD the next day and she said it sounded like an
esophageal spasm BUT didn’t want to be overlooking something cardiac and sent
me for a full cardiac workup including treadmill stress EKG and the works.
Turned out my heart was fine and it was an esophageal spasm.
Apparently the combo of the fats and the caffeine in the delicious coffee set
things off in a grand way.
Fast forward. I am working at a fairly large office. The
young man across the cubical from me is having chest pains. I am thinking this
young husband and father is way too young to be having cardiac issues. He is in
the middle of a complete cardiac work up. The doctors were scratching their
heads so far.
You almost never saw “Mark” without a can of Mountain Dew in
his hand. He loved the stuff. Morning, noon and night it was never too early
for a Dew, just ask him….
“Mark, I have a challenge for you regarding your chest
“Man, I am so miserable I would try just about anything,
what are you thinking?”
“Think you could stop the sodas for about two weeks? Maybe
you could wean off so the headaches wouldn’t be so bad but get off and stay off
for 2 weeks?”
I then told him about my experience and how every time I had
anything with caffeine I could almost guarantee triggering an esophageal spasm
– add some fat to the mix and sometimes even carbohydrates like bread and it
was a “done deal”.
“Okkkkay, I guess I could give it a try – this pain is
terrible and thinking I might be having a heart attack and not knowing what to
do is even worse…. You’re on!”
By the end of his two weeks he had a super grin on his face
AND no further chest pains. He checked with his MDs and told them what had
happened and they confirmed that yes, this could be cause and effect.
Fast forward again.
We were building a house (what’s news about that for the
builder and his wife?) and our electrician was our friend who also owned land
up this way. We were trading labor and spent much time working with him on our
place and his.
“Gray, what’s with the grimacing face?”
“Man, my chest hurts like someone is squeezing the life out
I ran and got him an antacid and he took it and the pain
stopped…. Whew, we didn’t have to call the med-evac helicopter….and Gray said
he wasn’t about to go be checked anyhow… (hum, maybe men are wired a bit like
this stubborn RN?)
We began a dialogue. This guy was Mr. Coffee and we had
affectionately called him that for months.
“Ah, Gray, how long have you had these chest pains?”
“Oh, for months and months but they seem to be getting much
worse lately. Sometimes I’m so miserable I can’t work”
“Want to try an experiment that might fix them for good?”
“Are you kidding, what could I do…?”
I then told him my experience and Mark’s regarding caffeine
and the antacid “test” I did. He looked at me like I had taken a glass of cool
water away from a man dying of thirst but gave a reluctant “yah…. Guess I could
try that by going slowly off the coffee…..”
I think I could really hear the sob behind his words.
We had finished out electrical part of the house for them
and didn’t see him again until it was time to do the next phase. He walked into
the house with a grin on his face which told the whole story.
“Hey, Doc, look at me, no more chest pain!”
“Ahhh, and how were the headaches going off coffee?”
“Oh, they were not too bad after the first couple of days
and it was SO worth it! Do you know that even decaf causes reflux?”
“Well, there is something in the coffee bean, leaded or
unleaded, that makes you produce more stomach acid so I guess that could be
part of it all, couldn’t it?”
“Yep and for the major relief I have gotten guess I will bum
a glass of your wonderful well water.”
“I’m really glad to see this little “fix” of mine work so
well for you, Gray. Congrats for sticking it out and getting off the java, but
now we can’t call you Mr. Coffee anymore.
SO NEXT TIME YOU HAVE HORRIBLE CHEST PAINS, POP AN ANTACID
ON THE WAY TO THE ER. BETTER YET, BEFORE YOU GET TO THAT STAGE MAYBE TRY TO
MODERATE YOUR CAFFEINE BEFORE THE MISERY STARTS.
(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved.
Use with proper credits.