Here goes "His Wonderful Works in My Life"--part 3. In part 2 I told how God miraculously gave us our first child, Nicole Anthea.
While I was carrying Niki, Gary and I both were growing spiritually. We had decided together that we were going to be active Christians and that we weren't going to do it halfheartedly, but instead we going to be "all the way" Christians. No fence riding for us.
We talked about the Lord, prayed, and we attended our church faithfully. As a result, the Lord began to work in our hearts in a way we had neither one experienced before.
Now at this point I need to digress a little into my earlier life to explain some of the things the Lord needed to work in my heart over.
My dad got saved when I was an infant. It took him until I was five or so to get into a good church and start really growing himself. He told how when reading his Bible he knew something was wrong in the churches he was choosing, so He asked the Lord to show him the truth. Shortly after praying that prayer two men knocked on my parents door from an independent Baptist church. Dad said the first Sunday there he knew they'd found a church that was preaching and teaching what he had been learning from reading his Bible. The rest is history--my dad became an independent, Bible believing Baptist and he began to grow rapidly.
We moved back to Indiana when I was in fourth grade. The Lord led my dad to start a church in Parker City, IN a short time after we moved back there. My dad had gone to one year of Bible college when we lived in Kansas, but it was rather liberal. He didn't get under sound Bible teaching until he got under the Pastor Byers Storey of Muncie, Indiana. (Temple Baptist Church)
When dad started the church in Parker he was still learning some of the basics in doctrine. He said it concerned Brother Storey rather he was ready for pastoring. But dad stuck by the stuff and grew.
We lived in the country north of Parker when he started the church and dad still hadn't developed many personal standards for us as a family. When I was right at the beginning of my teenage years dad realized there should be dress standards and told us girls that we weren't to wear pants any more.
Now, I was in the time of my life where I was questioning everything and I wasn't doing it from a spiritual mindset! So, I decided dad had developed this new conviction as a result of our becoming teens and because we were moving to town where we would be more visible.
I did what my dad said, but I didn't make a heart's decision for myself concerning what I wore. I had outward obedience, but I never got before the Lord on my own and with a sincere heart asked Him to show me what He said about my clothing. To be honest, I didn't want to know because I wanted to make that decision for myself!
At school it was noticed. No one really made fun of me, but comments would be made. I would be asked why we never wore pants. This was the late 60's and early 70's and pants and miniskirts were the rage, so when you wore a dress every day it was noticed!
When I went to work out of high school as a pharmacy tech I also noticed that the men were always the ones to comment, and the comments were always about my looking like a lady. They were never belittling, more astonishment or gratefulness for a "lady who looked like a lady". I did notice this and it went into my mental library of facts.
However, this was during the time I was completely backslidden as a teen and I had made up my mind that when I got out of the home I did not share my dad's conviction and I would wear pants.
When I married that's exactly what I did. Not all the time, but much of the time. I cannot bear to think of how this must have hurt my precious parents. I've asked them to forgive me for the pain my backslidden years brought to them, and I asked them for forgiveness for how I hurt them with my foolish choices. Something I'm very grateful for is that I got right with the Lord and had an opportunity to ask their forgiveness while they were still alive. I'm also grateful for their patience and forgiveness.
I got right with the Lord at about the age of 18, but some of the wrong decisions were still in my life--what I wore was one of those things. When I was pregnant for Niki the Holy Spirit began to deal with my heart about being a testimony no matter where I was.
I would sit in the waiting room at the doctor's office and want to look like a Christian. I wanted people to know I was a Christian just by looking at my countenance, (Acts 4:13-"they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.") I knew that would only come by spending time with Him, but I also knew there should be outward evidence of being "separated unto Him from the world".
So, where at the beginning I would pick up the Gideon Bible and read it while in the waiting room at the middle and end of my pregnancy I would wear a dress or skirt, because that made me the only one in the waiting room dressed in a way that made people take note that I was a Christian.
*I knew this was true because of how many times my dress under my dad's leadership caused people to ask where I went to church!
I cannot speak for anyone else, but I can say without any question that my choice of clothing had a direct parallel to my spiritual closeness to the Lord. When I was in rebellion I chose clothing that made me be identified with the world and its latest fad. When I grew close to the Lord all I wanted was to be sure that what I wore brought Him honor and glory and set me apart from the world and identified me with Him.
I still wore pants at home, wore them on vacation or on other occasions that I felt warranted wearing them, but as I became more and more sensitive to what pleased the Lord I became more and more uncomfortable with clothing that was immodest or "pertained to a man".
We had had a part in some young Christians' salvation and I also became concerned that we were good role models in their lives. All of this, along with a sincere desire to do nothing that would put a wall between the Lord and I's fellowship caused me to get into my Bible truly seeking what the Lord's heart was in this area.
I still held on to some of my excuses--the major excuse was that my husband liked them on me.
I had a fear that if I only wore dresses he might lose his interest in me, or think I was "dowdy" in my clothing choices.
Gary and I began to have more and more preachers over to the house during revivals, we were both spending more and more time in our Bibles and prayer, and I was getting more and more concerned with being right with the Lord and doing nothing that would cause someone to stumble.
God knows just what work to carry out in our lives to get us to make that final step that He wants when we are sincerely seeking to please and obey Him.
We had gone to town to see Gary's mother. We were taking Niki and were very proud to show her off to Gary's mom and aunt and uncle. I had on a pair of jeans and a pretty new top Gary had bought me.
An opportunity came up for me to witness to Gary's mother. She was lost and we were both very burdened for her salvation. When I began to witness she stopped me. She told me that I didn't have anything to say to her as long as I wore those pants. She saw the way *____________ (Gary's uncle) looked at me. I was crushed and speechless.
When we got home I told Gary that his mother might go to hell, but it would be her own choice, and it most certainly wouldn't be over stumbling over my clothing! That was the "work of the Lord" that took dressing immodestly or dressing in what pertained to a man from my heart.
I have never questioned what God meant by any portion of scripture on my clothing--it's not a matter up for debate to me. I KNOW what He believes about it--He revealed it to my heart by His wonderful works. He did it in a way that I will never question what He means by the various verses I hear debated on a regular basis.
I know that no matter what the Lord is wanting to teach us He has to make it personal, and He has to do the speaking and the working. My obedience to my dad was outward--but dead. I should have accepted the truth simply because I'm told to obey my parents, but I didn't. However, when the time came that I sincerely was seeking and wanting to obey God and His Word--He made it real and He made it personal.
That was the first real time I can remember that the Lord did a work in my heart that was precious--and very painful. However, I am so glad He did.
Gary's mother did get saved some years later. His dad and his mother both gave testimony at their salvation that watching us for years live out a Christianity consistently and with all our hearts is part of what brought them to Christ.
What a small price separation from this world and its mindset is in the Christian life, and yet it is one of the devil's most effective tools.
This was just the first spiritual work in my life that I remember being painful and shameful. There have been many since then, but I embrace them now as an act of love on the Lord's part and I'm thankful that they are proof that I am His. (Hebrews 12:6-"For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.")
I am writing all this down for "the generation to come". I have felt prompted to do this, so that my children and grandchildren will know what the Lord's works in my life have been. I don't want them to wait and find them in my journals after I am gone, but know them now!
"We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done."-Psalm 78:4
This won't be all of them, they are too many to tell, but the highlights. However, I get excited just looking back at how good He has been to me. A true loving Heavenly Father who has done what was best for me, not what I wanted.
Until the next chapter!...