LINDA WILLIAMS, SPEAKER
I was raised in a Christian home by loving parents. We were active in our Presbyterian Church where I was part of Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, and the Christian Endeavor youth program. I accepted the Lord on a high school youth retreat.
I was a very zealous young Christian with the singular brief in Jesus as Savior. By nature, I had a very rebellious spirit and thought, “I now really know it all.” I faithfully did my devotions, however, resisted opportunities to grow as a Christian. I just knew Jesus would save me from failure, pain, and hard times.
I graduated high school and then went to the college of my choice. In the first two months as a freshman, my world was oh so good and falling apart at the same time. Within a week of each other, my high school boyfriend was killed in a car crash and my precious grandfather died suddenly. Instead of seeking the Lord in this time of pain, doubt crept in.
I continued my religious habits and later became engaged to a young man that shared my love for life and my love for Jesus. He left for Germany to fulfill his ROTC commitment and I did not hear from him again. That was it for me! Jesus had failed me as a Savior. All I believed He would save me from was happening. I struck out to handle my own life and do it my way.
I graduated with honors, married, had four wonderful children and lost twelve members of my family, including my brother, mom, and dad, in eleven years. I was completely broken, deep in depression and struggling to make it through each day. We were church members. I did my daily devotions, however, I was alone and feeling very abandoned by the Jesus I believed would save me from life’s hard places.
Then on one very special day – one of the most important days of my life – God led me to 2 Timothy 1:7, “I have not given you a spirit of fear, but love and of power and of a sound mind.” At that moment, I challenged God to prove that verse in me. I was in a prison of fear. My life was completely void of love, power, and a sound mind. It was easy to surrender completely to Jesus as my Lord. I had nothing left to hold on to. I claimed just that one verse, as a fifth grade Sunday school teacher had taught me, and I began to look for Jesus moment by moment to be as 2 Timothy 1:7 stated. My journey with Jesus had begun anew. I was healing and experiencing a loving and gentle Jesus day by day. I hungered to learn more about Him and His word. Bible study and prayer became an important part of my life. I now knew He was indeed worthy of my trust and would not leave me or forsake me. I became active in our church; the children were very involved in our Sunday school, youth program, and a wonderful Christian camp. I was growing to love Jesus more and more, and now a very real desire to follow Him was growing in my heart. Jesus fed me, stretched me and loved me through many different people, work environments, and experiences. Life was far from easy.
My marriage was falling apart and divorce was imminent. My oldest son had a tragic accident, leaving him sight impaired. Life sometimes seemed like a roller coaster out of control. I would love to say that I just steadily grew as a child of God. However, in the midst of pain and broken dreams I stumbled and I struggled; one day on the mountaintop and the next in the pit. None of what was happening was in my plans or my dreams for my life. I had nowhere to go and no one to count on, but my Jesus.
Today I can truly say that I would never have chosen the painful places in my life. At the same time, I would never want to have missed what Jesus did in my life in the hard and hurtful times.
Today as I minister to and with women, I often realize that my understanding, my compassion, and my love for them is the fruit of those painful hard places. Now, I honestly can praise Him for those difficult times. I grieve that I did not learn those lessons without such pain not only for myself but for so many others.
The cry of my heart is to be all His, to serve Him with all my life all my days, to bring delight and joy to the Father, and to be a generous receiver of all He has for me.
By the way, I married the ROTC Germany-bound young man!! But that’s another story. We enjoyed a wonderful twenty-year marriage before he went to be with Jesus!