Book Excerpts


The Encounter

One Thursday night my sister-in-law and I were at a prayer meeting with six or seven others who had gathered together to draw close to the Lord. Near the end of the meeting, my sister-in-law asked Sister Althea, the woman who was conducting the prayer meeting, to pray for me.   Why would I need prayer? I wondered, instantly feeling riled as I glanced toward them suspiciously. Sister Althea started rubbing my arm to calm me down because she could tell I was getting inwardly agitated. 

I’m sure she was probably thinking, It’s okay, Linda. It’s only good things we want for you.   I couldn’t think why I would need Sister Althea’s prayer, but I stayed around for it anyway. As it turned out, it was one of the best things I ever did.  Placing her hand on my shoulder, Sister Althea looked deeply into my eyes, staring at me from behind her glasses. I looked back at her strangely, still wondering why this was happening. She seemed to sense that I was offended.

“This lady has been hurt,” she said in an accent I couldn’t place, her voice calm and peaceful. “Someone has hurt her.”  I knew immediately that God was speaking to me through her, because Sister Althea didn’t know anything about me. Only one person knew about the pain and hurt in my past. Only God knew what I had been through. Only He knew the truth of my situation.  I had thought I was completely healed of the hurts she spoke of. Little did I know, part of that pain was still shut up inside me.

Puzzled and somewhat shocked, I turned my history over in my mind. It was true I had some issues with sin in my life that I had not properly addressed. Otherwise, I was doing fine. But if Sister Althea were to be believed, I was still suffering from some past hurt. Aside from not believing that I was saved, I thought that I was doing pretty well emotionally.  Speechless, I stood there knowing that I had messed up terribly with God and wondering if I would have another chance with Him.  “You need to rededicate your life to God,” Sister Althea told me after she finished praying for me. I immediately agreed that I would do just that.  “There is one way,” she said. She was saying that Jesus is the only way. Then came the most important words she spoke to me from God:  “If you can hold out for one year…”  Quickly, before she could say anything else, I nodded my head in agreement. I was desperate for whatever chance I could get. If the Lord was willing to give me another chance, I was going to take it, because I wanted and needed Him to be a part of my life, and receive restoration and freedom from sin.

Sister Althea stared at me as though wondering whether I fully understood what she was saying. Later, she told me that she sensed that I would have to go through trials, but at the time what she was asking me is if I could be fully committed to God for one year, and I believed that if I couldn’t then all the deals were off.   “Yes, I will do it,” I said silently to God. “I can hold out for one year.” After enduring all that I had in my lifetime, I knew that I could do that!

I was overcome with gratitude for the words the Lord had spoken to me through this woman. I had never in my life experienced anything like it. Not only did He meet me where I was, but He also spoke healing to me.  It was a moment of realization that would change the direction of my life forever.

 

Restoration

I was lying on the floor one Friday night, praying and crying, trying to make sense of the suffering I had endured. I was thinking about how awful it felt when people labeled me a liar, and how tired I was of being poked at in services and at Bible study because I had confessed that I’d been untruthful. I still struggled to understand. It was a confusion that prevented me from fully completing my journey to God.

“Lord, why did I have to go through all the embarrassment, after I did all that I told You I would do?” I asked out loud. “Why, Lord, did I have to go through so much pain and humiliation? After I repented to You, I told You that I would live for You and that I would not return to a life of sin. Why, Lord?”

In anguish, I prayed and cried, struggling to understand why my God would allow me to be hurt and humiliated. I finally fell asleep, exhausted and spent.

As I slept, the Lord came to me in a dream and answered all of my questions. The vision was very clear. I was standing in some sort of cave and just a few feet away lay a snake, its body so large that it practically filled up the cave. In the cave was an opening that resembled a fireplace, and within the opening lay a huge rock. A clear voice was coming from the opening. Even though I could not see His face, I knew that it was the Lord Himself speaking to me.

“You can have a second chance,” He told me. “You can be forgiven. But you have to tell people about the things that you have done.”

I asked myself why I had to tell people about the shameful things that I had done.

“Because someone else has done the same things that you have done, and they need to know how to come out,” God told me, reading my mind. Meaning they need to find their way out of darkness, and my story may help them to find their way back to Him.

I looked toward the snake lying just a few feet away from me, and it started to slither in my direction.

“Be still!” God said to the snake. “If you move again, the rock will crush your head!”

The rock was now next to the snake, ready to roll and crush its head if it failed to stop as the Lord had commanded.

“You have already won,” God said to me. “You have already won.”

Wondering what He meant, I looked down at my feet. The snake was lying at my feet, dead, its tongue hanging out as though it had been slain. The Lord asked me again if I would accept the task. Not knowing what I would have to do or say to help people come out of their sins and find forgiveness and salvation, I hesitated. As I lay on the floor, I felt life getting ready to leave my body, and I knew that it was now or never.

“Yes,” I said. I understood that my life was to be a testimony to others. When I awoke, I knew I was obligated to spread the message the Lord had sent me. He wanted me to tell people: “I am an overcomer! If God can save me, He can save you!”

 

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