Most Christians feel as if there is something missing in their relationship with God, but they aren’t sure what it is or how to get it. This was me for many years.
My husband, Alan, and I grew up in Iowa, where we embarked upon our journey through life together in 1961. Alan’s employer transferred us to Kansas City in 1968, where in 1972 we both accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, which radically changed our lives and healed our marriage. Four years later, we were transferred again and moved to the North Shore suburbs of Chicago where I began my 25-year career as a high school teacher.
During our first 30 years after accepting Christ, we attended church, read the Bible, prayed, and did all the things “good Christians” are expected to do. Yet much of our Christian walk felt like an uphill climb. We felt we should be doing more for God, but we didn’t know what that “something more” might be. Then, shortly after I retired, several books and a television program pointed us toward a new understanding of grace. We saw that our success or failure as believers was not about what we do for God, but what Jesus had already done for us.
Understanding grace was a key that unlocked many other truths in the Bible that had puzzled us for years. It was shortly after discovering grace that we believed God was leading us to a smaller town on the western side of Illinois. There we enjoyed a very nice life. We had a beautiful home, a strong marriage, and nice kids and grandkids. We were busy but not overwhelmed. We were amazed at all the blessings God had brought us. Life no longer felt like a struggle.
We celebrated our 50th anniversary in the summer of 2011 with family and friends, unaware that Alan’s arteries were full of calcified plaque, “like cement,” according to the doctor. Alan had bypass surgery and an aortic valve replacement and was recovering well from the operation when he fell victim to an infection from which he never recovered.
During the ten weeks of his hospitalization, I began to encounter God in a new way. For the very first time, I found myself seeking God — not for what I wanted Him to do for me but simply for Who He was. Starting with just a few minutes alone with Him each morning, I was soon setting aside a half hour each day before going to the hospital. Through my new attitude, God transformed and strengthened me. The fearful, ineffective woman who had entered the hospital with Alan in January left in March as a strong, confident woman with a vital, intimate relationship with God.
I was left to continue the journey alone, but I wasn’t really alone because my new relationship with God sustained me. His presence was very real to me. He held me up, held me close, and held me together. In the time since Alan left to be with the Lord, my life has been an exciting adventure, both spiritually and in everyday life. Now it’s my heart’s desire to share my story, and to show others how to get more out of their relationship with God. I hope that as I do, my readers will see God’s awesome goodness and grace in my life and be inspired to draw nearer to Him.
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