TITLE: God Are You Really There?
By Debra Burchett
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GOD ARE YOU REALLY THERE?
Psalm 55:22 NIV.
Cast your burden on the Lord, and he shall
sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous
to be moved.
When I was fifteen years old my Dad was called home to be with God. It was no real surprise to us. My Dad had a bad heart that became worse as time passed. I can remember going to school wondering if today would be the day I’d get the call from the front office to tell me that Dad was gone.
Fifteen doesn’t seem very old, yet it is old enough to be responsible for the work of an adult. It’s plenty old enough to feel the painful emotions of loss. It’s also old enough to recognize pain and suffering in the ones we love.
I prayed for my Dad for many years. I prayed as a naive child and fearful child. I would pray, “God please don’t take my Dad, I love him and I need Him.” It is often when we are about to loose something, or someone, that we really understand what they mean to us.
One day as I was helping my Dad with some chores, I asked him why he and Mom didn’t go to church with us? Dad’s reply was that church was for kids and that Church never did anything for him. That wasn’t exactly the answer I had anticipated. That day the realization came to me that my Dad didn’t know God. I tried to talk to him, but I was told I was just a kid and had a lot of life to learn yet. It was then that I started praying differently. I began asking God to help my Dad find him, so I could know I would at least get to see Dad again.
The sicker Dad got the harder I prayed that someone, anyone would come and show my Dad how he could receive Jesus. I was becoming discouraged, that my prayers would never be answered and I would lose my Dad forever. I began to feel that maybe Dad was right. Maybe there wasn’t a God. I even began to pray, “God, if you’re there, help my Dad find you.”
What I didn’t know was that a pastor friend of my Dad’s from his youth had been coming to visit himwhile I was in school. One Saturday my brother and I had been up on the hill behind the house, doing our version of downhill skiing. We had been there for what seemed like hours when I was gripped with a desperate desire to get to the house. I had a feeling something might be wrong. I shared this feeling with my brother and we rushed to the house. As we entered the front door, I saw this man and my Father praying. My Mother was there and she quickly motioned us to leave, but the man told her no, it was important that we should stay. I got to witness the Father I loved and prayed for accept Christ as his own. God showed me he really was there.
I was so happy; I had gotten to see God answer prayer. When Dads Health allowed it, he and Mom attended Church with my brother and I. It was a very happy time for me, because I knew I would never lose my Dad completely.
One night about a week from Christmas of 1970, I had a dream. I saw my Dad come in our back door and stop and slide down the side of the door to the floor. I knew in this dream that I wouldn’t be able to bring Dad out of this heart attack no matter how I tried. In the dream as I worked over my dad a hand touched my shoulder and I was told by a comforting voice that my Dad would be safe, happy and pain free. Also I was assured we would meet again. I immediately awoke, but not with a sense of apprehension, which should accompany a dream of this type, instead I had a sense of calmness I hadn’t felt in sometime.
We had one of the nicest Christmas’ I think we had ever had. Then on the morning of December 27, 1970, my Dad, walked through the back door and did just as I saw in my dream. The difference was I called for help and did my best to perform CPR (cardio pulmonary recesitation) on my Dad, all the way to the hospital, which was over 27 miles away. When we got there I was exhausted and a man ran up to the car, opened the door, and he physically carried my Dad into the hospital. Then he came back after me. I was placed in a room next to where my Dad had been taken. I could hear them working on him. I heard them say, “Tell the family there was nothing we could do.”
My Mom told me later the man who packed my Dad and I into the hospital, had sat next to her and told her he had a feeling he was to be at the emergency entrance today. He guessed we were why. The hospital had a rule that their staff couldn’t enter or get people out of private vehicles. So if that man hadn’t been there we couldn’t have gotten Dad into the hospital. That man whom we never knew his name, sat with my Mom until family showed up. He squeezed Mom’s hand and said God will watch over you and your family, then he left, to never be seen by us again.
I believe someday I’ll see this man in heaven, and then I’ll get to thank him for his kindness.
THINGS SHOULD GET BETTER, RIGHT?
After the death of loved ones the family goes through a period of morning the loss of that person. This is a time of extreme emotions, when the family becomes venerable. This is a time no matter how strongly their belief in God is, Satan can take a word spoke carelessly and twist it to his advantage. I feel sometimes that’s why after a death, a close family will fall away from each other. Satan uses our grief, and we don’t even realize that we have said or thought such things.
After Dads death I was confronted with many fears. The most hurtful to me was when I heard someone who I counted as “Godly” say,” such a shame he hadn’t been saved long enough”. That statement hurt and I didn’t stick around to hear the rest of the conversation. My fifteen-year-old mind took that statement to heart and my fears began to grow.
I’m sure now that Satan had a hand in that. As my fears grew, I wondered if maybe that person was right and my Dad was lost to me forever. As my fear grew so did my anger towards God for not letting Dad live longer? I became angry that Dad never got the chance to teach me to drive a car, or see me graduate high school. Dad would never walk me down the isle on my wedding day. All the children I would have will never get to meet and know their grandfather. The list just went on and on from there. My school grades started to fail. I ran around and did as I pleased. My Mom was is a state of shock herself over my Dad, so she hardly knew when the sun came up. She went through her day out of habit, not even realizing what she was doing.
I started running with a group of kids that drank a lot and of course I drank right along with them. I discovered I didn’t feel the hurt so much if I drank myself into oblivion. As I continued, doing things I knew were wrong, my conscience started to chew at me. God’s Holy Spirit kept reminding me I knew the difference between right and wrong.
But the counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father
will send in my name, will teach you all things and
will remind you of everything I have said to you.
I still didn’t care, because I had seen my Father receive Jesus and now he is dead. I didn’t care what I did, or who I was now hurting, or even what the consequences might be.
1 Corinthians 10: 13 NIV.
No temptation has seized you except what is common
to man. And God is faithful he will not let you be tempted
beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he
will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
I didn’t realize it then, but God hadn’t given up on me. My Boyfriend was a Christian and strong in his faith. He was with me. Even though he never drank and I’m sure he dealt with a great deal of abuse from my new friends and myself; he never left me alone. He sobered me up many times before he took me home, so my Mom wouldn’t know. He knew I blamed God for everything. After all I did so outright.
I still went to church on Sunday, because Denny came and picked up my Mother and brother too. I went, but I only went through the motions. My heart wasn’t there. Church held no hope for me.
Then one day at church a guest speaker said,” How do you know you’re saved?”
Now I was listening!
This man said if you ask God into your heart, then you are saved.
Acts 2:21 NIV.
Says and everyone who calls on the name
of the Lord will be saved.
The man said that was a promise. Then he read
John 3:16-18 NIV.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
The speaker said that verse tells us that when Jesus died on the cross he was dying for each one of us, and the sins we have committed in our lives.
John 3:36 NIV.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the son will not see eternal life, but who ever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.
So now I’m thinking. I saw my Dad pray. I heard him say he believed Jesus died for him and I heard him ask God’s forgiveness for all his sins.
Then my attention returned as the speaker read another verse.
Romans 10: 9-13 NIV
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,”
and believe in your heart that you believe and are justified,
and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
As the scripture says, anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame. Then he read;
For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile-the
same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call
on him, for “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord
will be saved.”
The speaker said this verse is so full of hope and promise for us. It tells us that it doesn’t matter who we are, rich or poor, black, white, yellow, brown, whatever, that if we follow the steps in Romans 10:9-12 we will be saved from eternal death.
Now my heart is awake. My Dad did all of this yet I heard someone say there is some kind of time cutoff when it doesn’t count.
Nowhere in any of these verses was there even a hint of a limit of when you can no longer be saved.
The speaker said that while Jesus was alive teaching the people, he was teaching about God’s love, our salvation and eternal life. He said his favorite story about Gods Love was in Matthew 20:1-16 NIV.
Matthew 20: 1-16 NIV
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a land owner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.”
“About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘ you also go and work in my vineyard and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.
“He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing.
About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. “H asked them, “Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?” “Because no one has hired us.” They answered.
“He said to them,” You also go and work in my vineyard.”
When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman ”Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going onto the first.”
“The workers who were hired abut the eleventh hour came and received each a Denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more, but each one of them also received a denarius.
When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. “These men who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.”
“But he answered on of them, “ Friend I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?” Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous? “So the last will be first and the first will be last.”
The man said that in this passage Jesus is telling us that no matter when in our lives we receive our salvation through Jesus, our reward of eternal life is the same for all who receive him. There is no limit to God’s love, except that to receive eternal life we must follow the example in Romans 10:9-13.
It was then that I realized that God was watching over me.
John 14:26 NIV.
But the counselor, the Holy Spirit, who the Father
will send in my name, will teach you all things and
will remind you of everything I have said to you.
The Holy Spirit whom God placed with me on the day of my rebirth, woke me up to the fact that God was sick and tired of me blaming him for my wrongs and he gave me assurance not only for my own salvation, but the assurance that my Dad would also be in eternity with me.
Yes, I did bow my head right then and there and told Jesus and God how sorry I was for all the wrong I had been doing and for ever doubting that God wouldn’t accept my Dad as his own and at that moment, I felt a great peace and healing spread within me. I changed my wrong ways, but I still suffered the physical consequences of my actions because I had become addicted to alcohol and I did go through withdrawal. However with God’s help I still beat the cravings of the body.
I learned from that story, it is only to late to call on God, when you have breathed your last breath in death.
Since none of us know how long we will live, I pray that you are not still waiting to accept God’s love and promise!
He who overcomes will like them be dressed in white.
I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but
will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.
I look forward to the day when I will wear the white of the angels and be with God in Heaven.
PS: Hope to see you there!
To the reader: all Bible materials are quoted out of the NIV Bible. I have changed none of the wording used by them.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.