As the daughter of a German immigrant and the youngest of four, Judy seemed to receive the brunt of whatever family frustration was happening at the moment. As far as she knew, hers was a religious family since she was baptized as an infant, confirmed as a young church member and attended church regularly. But any “religious” talk within the home was strictly taboo – a house rule. The Bible verse was often quoted: “judge not and you will not be judged” whenever any “God” talk ensued, nipping it in the bud. Therefore, Judy decided at an early age that God must reside in church – on Sundays. For a while she accepted this: that God was busy running the world and if she wanted a glimpse of Him, She’d find Him at church on Sundays or other religious occasions.
But Judy’s heart was conflicted. Considering herself a Christian, she observed others who she also believed to be Christians, who, in fact, called themselves Christians. These others, her role models, even within her family, were nice to outsiders, generous to a fault and portraying the proper appearance. But inwardly, within the walls of the home, there was unkindness and downright meanness. Judy mimicked what she observed. It was all she knew.
In her own heart, however, the struggle grew and when alone, Judy would ask of God, “Who are You really? What am I about? What’s life about and why can’t I be good and loving? Why am I so afraid? Why don’t I have peace?” She admitted (to herself) that she was a sinner, and simply tried harder to be better, to no avail.
Conflicts within the family grew and when Judy was ten years old, her oldest sister married a man whom Judy’s Dad did not approve. They never spoke again. Then Judy’s other sister married, moved out of town and her brother became ill. The parents were devastated and totally focused all their energies on their son.
Judy tried to survive with minimal guidance, both emotionally and spiritually. At age 17, during Holy Week, she was motivated to attend a local movie. It was about the Life of Christ. Feeling very religious during that Holy Week, it seemed like the right thing to do.
As she watched the movie, Judy’s heart began to change, to awaken and to soften. She was beginning to hear Truth. She heard of God’s love and learned, as she watched Jesus on the cross, that He was not a victim, but willingly, willingly died for her, for her sins. Tears flowed; tears of joy and hope and peace. During that movie presentation, Judy heard, believed, and accepted the Good News, knowing her sins were forgiven.
Judy was born again.
Meanwhile, the stress at home went right on. It was Easter and Judy was experiencing worship for the first time as one who is alive in Christ! Her joy could not be contained and she carried it into the home. Her parents quieted her quickly with their disapproval.
Leaving home to attend the university, while there, she went on a blind date. His name was Jack. He was quite the catch and Judy fell in love. Shortly after graduation, they married.
It was a good marriage and they were blessed with three daughters. But Jack was not a Believer. He did not share Judy’s love for Jesus. For eighteen years, Judy faithfully prayed for him. She became a I Peter 3 wife: “. . . that they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives. . .” In other words, Judy sought to win Jack over without words, placing her hope in God.
As Judy studied scripture and grew in her faith, she became more and more troubled for Jack and his salvation. And she continued to be burdened to pray. God, after eighteen years, at just the right time, heard Judy’s prayers and intervened. On a business trip, in a hotel room, with a Gideon Bible, Jack gave his heart to God.
Jack was born again.
Judy knows God answered her prayers. Together Jack and Judy have been used by God to share the Gospel of Christ with hundreds of others; and have had the privilege to see many of those hearts touched by God and changed to follow Him.
Married 52 years now, their hearts are still bonded and their calling is sure. They continue to study God’s Word and share what they learn. Judy knows that she cannot change a heart but God can. She knows first-hand the power of the Gospel.
“I am not ashamed of the Gospel
for it is the power of God for salvation
for everyone who believes.” Romans 1:16