By Christine Hare Tate, 2011.
It was January 1973….I had reached the lowest point of my life; I wanted to know who I was and why I was born! I remember my mother reminding me, that my sister and I needed to go back to church. We had a wonderful childhood and never got into trouble or disrespected our parents. My parents meant well & taught us the best they knew how. We were raised in the Catholic church, but we wanted more. We were on a quest to discover what the truth really was. However, I grew more bitter & disgruntled. I recall raising my clenched fist in defiance that day in my parent’s kitchen, and said brazenly aloud, “If there truly is a God up there, why doesn’t He come down and reveal himself to me personally?” Little did I know that a week later my angry statement would receive an answer! It was a year later when I choked up as I recalled how I raised my fist in God’s face, yet because He knew my heart, & His love surpassed my understanding, He revealed Himself to me just as I asked!
Out of ignorance, my sister and I opened the door that propelled us into the occult realm, & we became obsessed with “witchcraft.” It began to intrigue me in my senior year of high school when my English teacher gave us an assignment to prepare an oral speech of our choice to recite in front of the class. I selected “witchcraft” because it fascinated me ever since I became addicted to the soap opera, “Dark Shadows”…My speech was voted the best in the class and I was chosen to recite it in front of the student body & faculty. This only fueled the flame burning inside me to continue my search.. I accumulated many evil books & spent hours conversing with the “Ouija Board”, a dangerous passtime! Of course I didn’t realize my personality was changing. I became belligerent, jealous, greedy, unthankful and mean. About a week before I was saved, my sister and I were alone in her room dabbling with mirrors and candles, chanting. Suddenly we felt a malevolent dark presence surrounding us…We were immediately terrified of what we might see…I remember saying to my sister that perhaps God wouldn’t approve of this. Even then, without our knowledge, the merciful Lord had His hand of protection on us, sparing us from getting in over our heads! My sister and I made a dash for the door and never attempted anything like that again.
How could I ever forget that afternoon in Feb. 1973…My cousin came over for lunch, against my better judgment. I noticed a big change in her. When she moved to Ca with her family years earlier, she was selfish and boy crazy…Now she carried a bible under her arm but never said a word to me during our visit. It was pleasant and I actually had a nice time. On her way out she left a magazine on my kitchen table and softly asked me to take a look at it when I had a chance. I was alone at the time and glanced at the cover, a picture of Jesus standing on some clouds with a caption underneath that read, “Jesus is coming soon, are you ready to meet Him?” Suddenly, as if a veil was lifted, I fell to my knees, realized I was a sinner, repented on the spot asking Jesus to forgive me as I surrendered to Him, while I wept like a baby…..No one told me to do this, it was a work of the Holy Spirit! I trashed all my occult books, paraphernalia and Ouija board immediately! The Lord brought me out of the darkness into the light!
My journey since that wonderful day has been filled with many blessings and tribulations as well….I’ve discovered that it’s during the dark valley experiences that I learn the most valuable lessons. I was married at 19 & God blessed us with three wonderful sons. Soon, however, my marriage turned rocky because my husband didn’t share my convictions. Although he was a faithful father and provider, & a generous caring man, I suffered verbal & emotional abuse for many years because we weren’t on the same spiritual page. God taught me I had to choose to forgive, and persevere, despite his drinking which caused myriad other problems because of his Jekyll & Hyde personality. Compromise was never an option for me. My husband left the spiritual responsibility to me, and I raised my boys the best I could according to biblical precepts. Those early years were lonely, painful and draining, but because I didn’t waver in my faith, the Lord protected and defended me….There were times I wanted to jump off a cliff because I longed for emotional support & kindness, a little tenderness & compassion from him, but it was never there; my dependency on God served to shape & mold me causing a deeper awareness that Jesus was my all in all. After many years, circumstances lead us to move out of state because my husband lost his business, but the Lord eventually restored us. My husband was saved & delivered from alcohol in 1994. By 1997 we knew the Lord afforded us the opportunity to move closer to our sons. I’ve witnessed physical healings in my husband & other family members that defied doctor reports, as well as situations that were never resolved because the Lord used it to remind me that His “grace is sufficient.” Through it all the Lord kept pruning me more!
Around July & August of 2001, my friend and I couldn’t shake a strong uneasy feeling we had inside that something was about to happen. Of course after 9/11 the pieces all came together, and we understood how important it was to keep focused on Christ. The Lord started to lead me down a path where He would reveal some important principles that have since transformed me. First He began to expose my own heart and the junk that needed to removed. My prayer was to decrease so He could increase. He showed me the “price I’d have to pay” to fulfill that desire. It meant “dying to self” & surrendering more & more. It has taken years for me to grasp what Jesus expects, and I’m still learning. He revealed many falsehoods that I believed, exposed false teachers and ministers I once looked up to, and pointed out many wolves in sheep’s clothing to avoid…He continued to draw me away from certain people and activities. I found myself becoming disgusted with the crowds of lukewarm believers content to follow men who preached a polluted gospel….This resulted in spending time in my prayer closet clinging to Christ and developing a more intimate relationship with Him….He taught me to stay in His word and measure everything spoken and written against scripture. As a result, I’m learning to wait, be more tolerant, endure, & seek His purpose in every circumstance. I’ve come to comprehend that God tolerates no complaining, & if I insist on whining, it will only serve to waste my own time. I’ve seen His grace dispensed as situations call for it. Whenever adversity would arise, I immediately recognized the need to rest in His loving arms and NOT figure things out. The one scripture that won’t win any popularity contests, but changed my thinking was, Mark 9:35….”Anyone who wants to be the first must take last place & be the SERVANT of everyone else.” That scripture goes against the grain of everything we’ve been taught in the world! It is however, the highest calling in God’s sight! I discovered the hard way that all works of the flesh, however sincere, are an abomination according to the Lord. We are the clay and He is the potter. Have I attained my full potential in Christ? By NO stretch of the imagination. The only thing I’ve done is to stay in the race & fight the good fight…
As of this writing, many years have passed…My sons are married with their own businesses and families. I’ve been blessed with 7 precious grandchildren with another on the way…We all live close by. On April 3, 2007, my husband of 38 years died in his sleep. It was unexpected, and I can tell you the life I once knew changed in one day! Even so, when I discovered he had gone home to be with the Lord, God’s grace covered me like a warm blanket. I remained calm & composed, and I assure you, it wasn’t anything I did….This is the best part. During the entire ordeal, the Lord used me to console, encourage & witness to all the grieving family members and friends who came to pay their respects with the intention of comforting me! My sons and I are still amazed at how the Holy Spirit took control and how God received the glory just by our attitude….It has been four years since that day. I can say confidently that the Lord has drawn my family closer, strengthened our faith, ignited a deeper love for Him and compassion for others. I remember the first few days after his death when the Lord showed me that He required me to be flexible. He showed me that if I wasn’t, I’d “break instead of bend” under pressure. Following my husband’s death, I experienced an onslaught of one trial after another…God sustained me despite the devil’s attempts to wear me down at the most vulnerable time of my life. The Lord was in the process of removing and detaching me from things I once held dear to my heart, but discovered I could now walk away from without looking back. He showed me that it was a new chapter because the old one ended! He has impressed upon my heart that if I cannot endure personal trials, I’ll never be able to handle what is coming upon the earth. He is separating me from chains that bind! It has been a slow process, and although I’ve come a long way, I’ve a long, long way to go… I realize that this world is NOT my home anymore, and to BEWARE of “LOGIC and REASON”, two enemies that relentlessly try to negate God’s word. We are to trust Him by faith, not by sight! I’m learning little by little that He is my provision, not just a WAY of provision! I’m grateful to Him for the ability to tune out the clamoring voices of distractions and confusion that try to tempt and provoke me to doubt and question the Lord.
God’s “new” plan for me eventually gave birth to the unexpected. In Apr. of 2010 I started dating a godly widower named Artie whom I met at the nursing home where our mothers resided. He had volunteered there, and although we’d pass each other often, we never spoke until he asked me a question about my mother, and one thing lead to another. My only thought was to encourage this man who lost his wife two years earlier. It resulted in a whirlwind romance of 6 months that lead to marriage in Oct. 2010. We both had NO intention of ever getting serious let alone marrying. However, God in His wisdom and timing knew it was the best thing for both of us. We are so happy and grateful to the Lord, we still pinch ourselves. Artie and I are honored to share our story.
“Apart from Jesus, I can do nothing”….It’s always rewarding for me to step aside and give the Lord honor and glory that He alone deserves…If my testimony encourages just one person, I’m ecstatic to share it! Do I know what tomorrow holds? No, but I trust the ONE who started a work in me 38 years ago to bring it to fruition. This walk is more than words, it’s a lifestyle. A pastor friend of mine always says, “Don’t tell me you’re a Christian, show me!!” I pray that everyone will submit to Christ, casting off the old stained garments, standing naked before Him as vessels empty of all human resources, available for His purpose!
I close with this scripture: Philippians 3:3 “For we who worship God in the spirit are the only ones who are truly circumcised. We put no confidence in human effort. Instead we boast about what Christ Jesus has done for us.” AMEN! Because of Jesus, Christine Hare Tate.