I started attending church on easter Sunday 2013. My son Myles, when he was born, had many obstacles. He was in the Neo-Natal ICU for 3 weeks. Pastor Jim came to the hospital to visit, and the church started to pray. Myles healed and I figured I owed it to God to go to church. At the time I did not see this as the beginning of the call to be closer to God. I began to get wrapped up in all the works of the flesh: VBS, prayer groups, lady’s lunches, dinners, and so many other opportunities. About 1 year after joining the church I was baptized in the river. The pastor had me write a testimony and looking back now it was all flesh. Things like my first son passing away at a week old, and my last son being healed, were at the forefront of my salvation testimony. Nothing changed though. I was still angry and sad. I continued to be the same fleshly person I always was. I thought I was a saved Christian and believed God spoke to me a few times. Sometimes I listened and sometimes I didn’t.
In 2019 Cliff Thompson, associate pastor of Beulah Baptist Church in Derwood, MD, came to Collinsville, CT, twice in the summer to preach at our church as a fill in for our then interim pastor. The first time I was excited to hear him preach but didn’t want to be part of something new. The second time around after receiving the message, I asked my husband Howard when we were moving to Maryland. A few months later, I stood in my church feeling a nothingness. It was like I was in a desert. I had no clue at the time it was separation from God I was being shown. All I knew was it was painful. Howard and I visited Beulah the following weekend for the first time. I talked to James John, who is a preacher at Beulah, and he told me I needed to be patient. I struggled with that a lot.
From that point we started getting online with Beulah on Wednesday nights but stayed connected to Collinsville church on Sunday mornings. Pastor Charlie Garza of Beulah Baptist Church warned me that I should stay in Collinsville until after the transition meetings and to hear out what the leadership of our church came up with on moving forward. I did not take that council and I stayed home from Collinsville while my husband attended Sunday services and I logged onto Beulah.
The first weekend we did this, my husband left with the boys, and I felt so alone. I cried and was texting with Christy, who is Pastor Charlie’s wife, about feeling so sad. Pastor Charlie came on to preach and he said he was having trouble and needed just to read scripture. He read John 14 and 15. I put my head on the table and sobbed while I listened to what Charlie was reading. I felt so sad. Suddenly, I felt my eyes opened as if someone removed their hands from my eyes. Shortly after this happened Howard started attending Beulah with me. We were headed to Beulah. I had song of Solomon 3:1-4 on my heart sitting at the table with Pastor Charlie and for the first time someone explained scripture to me. Was I the woman lying there not answering the knocking at the door? Had God given me watchmen?
A few months later, as Pastor Charlie was preaching, God told me I had a jealous heart. He was correct. I knew I had to repent but I wasn’t even sure what that meant. I know it meant saying sorry but didn’t fully understand. The weekend of 12/20/20 James and Cathy Jean came for the weekend. I couldn’t keep my mind on the preaching. I was having a hard time following. I couldn’t get the fact that God told me I also had a hateful heart. I thought I don’t have a hateful heart. I thought, I love people, I like to help. It was interfering with me getting to God. I finally did talk to James. He read Zechariah 7:12. It was the adamant stone Heart. As he read this an explained it, I could see the shards of stone. He told me that I needed to talk to Pastor Charlie, which I didn’t want to do. I was being exactly what God told me. I did call Pastor Charlie the next day and talked to him about it. I also apologized for feeling that way towards him. My husband was saved in November 2020, and I was excited for him, however the more he talked about it, the more I got upset. I wanted to be saved too. I had repented for the things God had pointed out to me. Why was I not saved? I became very excited when pastors were coming because I always saw and felt God when they were here. There were several times I thought that God, merely pruning something, was a saving moment. I would become upset when it hadn’t happened. I would feel hurt. Like I hadn’t done something right. Making my salvation a job I had to do. Repentance was a hard one, I could apologize but I somehow always ended up back in the same angry spot. This weighed on me. I knew it was what was holding me back form salvation. Cliff and Cindy Thompson came up in February 2020 and I talked with Cliff about this. He explained it like a rubber band. I could understand that analogy. And as a reminder I put a rubber band on my wrist and wore it everywhere I went.
As March arrived, I was very excited as we were going to be having Pastor Mike Williams come in from Pioneer Baptist Church in Texas City, TX to preach a couple of nights at our house. I couldn’t wait to see what God was going to do.
For the start of the week Pastor Mike Preached from Beulah. We were learning about the covenants of God. That was exciting to me, and I was able to connect things I had not before. Monday night we learned about the Noahic covenant and the rainbow pointing up, aimed at Himself, because God cannot break covenant, this caused me to want to go back and look at earlier scriptures that God had given to me. Specifically, John 14 & 15. These were the first chapters that God opened my eyes with. As I read, there were so many promises God had given to me that I was blind too at first. His love for me was throughout this.
[John 15:9, 11, 27] 9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. ... 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and [that] your joy might be full. ... 27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.
These reminded me of the promises he gave to me.
I was excited to see the pastors because it was easy for me to feel and see God. When Pastor Charlie said they would in fact not be coming, I felt very far from God. The same feeling that caused me to walk away from my previous church. My heart was crushed, I wasn’t going to find God. He was not going show up for me. I, in my flesh, got up and ran. I felt like that was it. God was done with me. I was finished and the knocking on door (song of Solomon) was over. I missed out. As I laid in my bed, I could feel something in me telling me to get up and go back down. Though I fought it I decided that I would go down and do the dishes. As I was washing, I thought of Martha, doing chores instead of sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to what He had to say. I felt awful, crushed, and ridiculous. So, I got closer and sat at the table and listened. Brother Mike was speaking about promises. Though I was embarrassed, I decided it would be better if I went and sat on the couch. After service, I talked with Charlie reluctantly. My own pride and embarrassment made me feel stupid. I felt like God had left, I recalled the song of Solomon when the woman got up and ran to answer the door and then He was gone. I was left not searching for my savior. I was done. I felt awful and horrible. I missed the opportunity and my behavior; my unbelief, was keeping from God. I cried all night. Every time my eye’s opened tears were coming out. After praying, I felt it so important to repent, and apologize for my pride. I was so done. I tried to listen to Deuteronomy and all the scripture Brother Mike had preached through earlier in the week and was getting nothing. I felt like God had truly walked away from me.
On Thursday, Cindy and I were texting, and I told her I didn’t know where to read. I couldn’t find God in his word. And she told me don’t read, just cry out to God, and listen tonight.
Thursday night Pastor Mike read from Psalm 80. As he said, “oh Lord God of host, how long will thou be angry against thy prayer of the people.” It felt like Bro Mike was speaking my sadness and how I felt to the whole church. If only I could hide again as everyone would know how unbelieving I had been and how I offended God. That I would be the only one unsaved. My prayer that night was Lord forgive me! When I woke up Friday morning, I didn’t feel much better. I was sad to have upset and offended God with who I was. A part of me, however, was excited for preaching that night. This was a confusing and odd feeling.
I talked to Cathy and she asked how I was doing. I told her I have been better and that I felt like a lamb with broken legs. She said that is a good place to be. She also told me to cry out. That even if Beulah couldn’t send anyone to Connecticut that I would be able to find mercy at the foot of the cross. Our Savior will finish his work.
As I sat down for preaching, I got my notebook and I started to write. I didn’t want to miss anything. I was busy writing stuff down and asking my husband, what did brother Mike just say? He turned to me and said, you know I remember a time when I was at Beulah, writing furiously, and after, Bryant Cosner said to him that he too used to write stuff down, but the most important part was when it was being said. Often, he would write stuff down and never ever go back. “Sometimes it’s best to listen”, Howard said, and then also said “it was my choice”. So, I put my notebook down and started to listen.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 talked about the body broken and the blood of the new covenant. I sat there and thought how all the times I took communion at our old church I had no right to do that. I wasn’t a part of the new covenant.
Brother Mike read, Hebrews 10:17-18, “and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.”
I thought I can do nothing for the sins I see that I commit. Jesus did that, and only Jesus.
Hebrews 10:19, Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.
I began to consider what Cathy and Cindy had said. Cry out! Go to the foot of the cross! Then Bro Mike was talking about the Olive Tree, with the broken branches and grafting the wild branches. I was one of the wild branches, I longed to be grafted in. I closed my eyes and prayed silently, God help me.
Ephesians 2:12, That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:"
This was me, no hope, and no God.
Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. ... 19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;"
Through the blood of Christ, I am no longer a stranger and a foreigner but a fellow citizen with the saints. I sat there on the couch after hearing this quietly, thinking about what was just said. And Brother Mike finished up saying “I’m in on the promise, I’ve been grafted In. You are divinely ordained”.
It is true that it is by Christ and Christ alone and at the foot of the cross, by His blood, I am nigh to God. I am no longer a foreigner or a stranger, but like those wild branches, I am grafted in and reunited with God.