On October 16, 1992, my life changed forever. It’s been nearly nineteen years since that day but I can still remember it like it was yesterday. This is the testimony of one who found out where you can meet God and, for me, it was the last place I ever expected. On that Friday, all those years ago, God heard my cry and came to meet me in the despair of the muck and mire of my life, in the middle of a cemetery.
My entire life, up until that day, had been one of living life on my own terms. I would make my success and my happiness in the way I saw fit. After all, who would know better than me what was best for me? The funny thing is, through all those years of trying to be the best and happiest I could be I was the most miserable I have ever known. Even after accepting Jesus as Savior ten years before, I didn’t change inside. Oh, I may have looked different on the outside but I was still as dark on the inside.
October 16, 1992 was a Friday. It was a beautiful autumn day but the beauty of the day couldn’t make up for the heaviness on my heart. That day I had just left my job as an Office Manager. I had been brought on to clean up the mess of the previous administrator − a job I had done many times before. When I say ‘left my job’, I mean that literally. For good! I got into my car and as I drove out of the parking lot, tears streamed down my face. I could have gone home but something told me to just keep driving. I had only worked a half day so it was barely one o’clock in the afternoon. I drove around aimlessly because it seemed to match exactly how I felt. Lost! Then suddenly, there was somewhere I wanted to go. Somewhere I desperately needed to go.
Within an hour’s time I found myself pulling into the cemetery of my parent’s graves. What was burning inside me was a deep longing to ‘run to my Mother’s arms’. I was like a child running home from the worse day of school and needing to feel the loving arms of my Mother. She used to soothe my broken heart with nary a word yet, with gentle stroking of my hair and the quiet shhhhhh – shhhhh sound; she would know my pain and ease it simply by her loving presence. That’s how I felt that October day only those loving arms and quiet sounds had been taken from me many years earlier. One always has that inner-child that longs for the comfort only a parent can bring, no matter what age. I was thirty five that day and I still needed to run to my Mother to make it better. To somehow make my life, better.
Sitting on the damp grass at the gravesite, I contemplated my miserable life. I had horrendous stress that was self-induced and self-medicated. I was a bitter and angry person. People I had worked for were mean and self-righteous. It was a dog-eat-dog world and I was going to reach a pinnacle even if those dogs were constantly nipping at my heels. I had a loving husband who somehow managed to still love me even though I must have been the most miserable person to live with. I had teenage children. Is there anything more I even need to say about that? I couldn’t handle it anymore. While I may have called myself a Christian, I sure didn’t feel like God gave a crap about me. Life was going downhill and I do mean fast!
Sitting in that quiet and serene place, I cried. No, not just cried, but wept. I wept like I had never wept before. I didn’t care that I might have been seen by someone − I would only look like a grieving family member. Of sorts, that’s what I was, but I wasn’t grieving them [my parents], I was grieving me. I was grieving my life. I remember at that moment, I had never felt such despair in my entire life. In all my anguish, and with all I had left within me, I cried out to God.
“God, are you there? Can you hear me? I have screwed it all up and now I give up! I can’t go on like this anymore. I just can’t. I hate my life − I hate who I am! I give you my life Father; I give it ALL to you. I will not move this way or that, I will not make one more decision and I will not do anything until you’ve told me your will is in all of it. I surrender it all to you right here and now!”
It was at that very moment that I suddenly felt weight being lifted off my shoulders and I could breathe again. I cried more and more but they were tears of surrender. I remember years later watching a version of a story I had never read or seen, ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’, and now I can say that what I felt then was like Christian when he knelt at the cross and the burdens he had carried on his back just dropped away. My burdens and cares just fell away and in its place I was given peace. It’s been the hardest thing to describe all these years and I can never do it without tears in my eyes. It was as if I could sense God seeing me and saying, “That’s all I’ve been waiting for, Rose.” You see, I had to need Him before He could move in my life. And move He did!
I don’t know how long I sat there but I do know that I didn’t want to leave. I felt safe and I didn’t want to go back out into the big, bad world again. I wanted to hide under God’s wing like a little duckling and never ‘grow up’. God spoke to my heart and told me that as long as I put my whole life in His hands, He would now put me on the right road. And as long as I continued each and every day with that very sentiment, He would grant me that fulfillment of His word. I got up from − not just the gravesite − but from the ‘death’ of my life.
For nearly nineteen years now that’s what I’ve done. God has always lived up to His end of it and I’ve known peace most every day of my life since then. I walked away from the former life and into a new life − a life of renewal and redemption. For all these years it’s been like sitting in a quiet, grassy knoll, one-on-one with my Lord and Savior, studying, growing, maturing, and learning to be like Christ. While these past nineteen years have been exactly what God knew I needed, they have been very long, indeed. There’s now a restlessness weighing on my heart so, like before, I’ve turned to my Father in heaven with a new prayer. I’ve put before him a request, a new plea, if you will, “Lord, please, get me out of this grassy knoll. I’m ready to serve you!”