Born in January

Born in January

"Eleven Months"

 

 

I remember having a recognition of God when I was an infant. When I was less than a year old. The earliest memory of mine in regards to that, was when I was seven months young. I have absolutely no problem believing that there are some select people who actually remember being born, based on having such early recollections myself. I know how young I was with these early notions because my parents confirmed it through photographs. I recall being in these pictures and what was happening around me. Who was with me in the room and who was not. Where we lived and who we knew at the time we lived there. All the three places we lived before I was three. What I knew beyond that realm. Fortunately I have both my parents and photographic proof also, to indicate how old I was. I wish I knew how much earlier I recognized God but I can say for sure, that at seven months I did. I knew that God was an old masculine figure and that he was my creator. I associated the sky or the upper heavenlies with where he was, yet a part of me knew he was everywhere. I was interested in God and curious. A deep and indisputable part of me reached for God and wanted to know him more. When I thought of God most was when I was alone in nature and I always felt somewhat emotional when I did think of God. In the quiet of nature. When I was free to enjoy a small area of heaven on earth. We lived in a very beautiful and wild countryside when I was young. Anywhere outside was a piece of undefiled nature. I wanted to know more about the man in the sky. That power in the great above. Yet even by then in 1972, I was already attached to the world undeniably and was much more connected to what I could see, than to what I could not see. I loved nature and it brought me closer to God even then. I knew that all of nature was created by God and that it was of him. I did virtually no figuring of things. What I knew was without any conscious reasoning or analyzing. It was imputed knowledge. Went without saying. Quite literally, as I was still not talking or understanding the human language. Neither could any of this be taught to me, given my age. Neither were my parents religious people. In light of all that, I have no problem believing that I came into this world already knowing that God existed. As John leapt inside the womb of his mother in response to God (Luke 1:41), I recognized the God that no one had yet taught me. As the Word of God states, we are without excuse. We know there is a God who created us, without the influence of another single human being. Thank God.


I did not have to learn about evil any more than about God. In many a dark and forbidden corner, I would perceive evil slinking around, waiting to strike me when I least expected it. I carried my share of fears. Some imagined. Some very real. Definitely, my early impressions of evil were undeniably strong. I heard my first stories of the paranormal by the time I was four years old and began actually seeing my first paranormal by the time I was five. That secured for me, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that there were evil entities out there who were desiring to destroy us. I would eventually realize it was our souls they were particularly after. I figured that if the flying saucers did not get me, the grizzlies would. I thought it would be a real miracle if I ever survived to adulthood in the wilds where we lived. My parents were very protective but I realized even they would not be able to save me from what was out there in the dark and sometimes daylight. I remember always blaming everything that went wrong on evil. Once we had a really fine dog come back home after breaking loose, with her throat completely ripped open by a wolverine. That was the devils doing. All the times we lost our dogs to porcupine quill inhalation, I firmly believed the devil was at work. Still, maybe he had been. I know the devil seemed real enough to me, for me to blame everything drastic on him. I learned about hell here and there and I had a strong sense of it. Never doubted it because of my embedded realization of spiritual darkness. Throughout most of my childhood, I certainly had a concern about ending up in that place of torment. As a dark cloud hanging over me. I was convinced enough of the probability of a real hell, to try to bargain with God. That if there was indeed, he would not send my father but would send me instead. I was about eleven then and though I thought the world of my father and knew he was a good man, I was not so convinced that we could escape hell. I was always inclined to worry about the worst case scenario with everything. I did not assume much and needed proof for everything. The older I became, the more acute was the possibility to me. I functioned by sleepwalking and wishing it away. Assuming that I could deal with it somewhere in the far future. The world queried about a hell and it made a certain amount of spiritual and common sense to me that it indeed existed. I was inclined to think there was a heaven and a hell by strong sensing of good and evil from early on. I also harbored an intellectual belief that Jesus was the one and only way and that he was the most significant of all prophets and teachers throughout history. Though my understanding was somewhat limited, I did not really question that Jesus was the one and only Savior of the world. That was fine by me and I didn’t really feel comfortable when people said otherwise. It did not pain me but I still did not like it. It seemed crass. This was before I had ever been exposed to any real preaching and I had never been in a church. We had several Bibles in the home but they were never read. I recall picking up one about three times in my childhood and trying to give it an honest embrace, only to place it back down after a feeble attempt to read a few lines. I gave up because I was an unambitious reader and saw that it was very great in size and had unusually small print. God was not drawing me much at that point.


As an adolescent I dreamt dreams and had psychic impressions which made me feel that much more unusual. Despite that my father was not yet a believer, he was vehemently against any kind of witchcraft. I think his grandmother and also mother who dabbled in the occult were the strongest influences in his disdain. Against my better judgement and in my greater moments of self deception, I was naturally drawn to some areas of the occult for the power and recognition that were its ideals. It was the first active spiritual power that I recognized and it was the easiest to experience for the unregenerate soul. Familiar spirits. It followed both sides of my family to an extent. Not everyone of course. Void of self induction, it usually just came to us to entice. I knew there was the dark and I knew there was the light, rarely did I think of gray area fallacies but I did not always know what was coming from God and what was coming from the devil. Quite often I did not care because I was preoccupied in the spell and mystery of it all which made my uneventful life become more eventful for me.


Once when I was seventeen, I was going through an unusually difficult time. We were having problems with a psychopath and I was unusually unsettled and stressed. It was a mind altering time to say the least. As a form of escape, I began to reach out to one of my favorite musicians I listened to. I was unapologetically obsessed with music and it had long become a very large part of my secluded existence. I stayed up very late for a series of nights and prayed that this musician would come to me since I could not come to him. It was all so very important to me. I was very serious in what I was requesting. It was as though I was almost sweating blood as I put myself into a real state. Only months later that same musician arrived with his family and it was nearly on my doorstep. Another lake that connected to the lake we lived on. It was their first visit to the far and unheard of place that we lived. I felt that God had not only answered my prayers but that I was absolutely experiencing a miracle. I was invited to stay for the entire seventeen days. They were lodging in teepees with a friend who had a wilderness camp. The very visit had been brainstormed on a distant tropical island and set in motion within the very week that my prayers took place in the dark upstairs of my room. Within no more than two days. For many years I continued to believed that God had answered that prayer and I clung to that as a miracle and refused to entertain any other notion. I did not understand how strong the wiles of the devil were and I did not comprehend how much he performed as an angel of light. That his greatest delight was in masquerading as God and taking credit amiss. It was the rudest awaking that I had ever experienced, when I discovered that the devil had fooled me all along. That God had in fact never answered my prayer. Someone else had. I learned a special degree of comprehension overnight and gained another level of hatred for the devil. It was a valuable lesson that I was slow in learning but finally did nearly twenty years later. Did I ever learn that lesson. Really, nothing could have proved harder to swallow in the end because I had been so deceived about that for so long. I had considerably underestimated what the devil could do and what he would do in order to masquerade as God. It would become an integral part of my spiritual growth and awareness and I eventually became acutely discerning when it came to heavenly gifts. If something was not spiritually edifying or spiritually preserving then it was not heaven sent. If it could not ultimately glorify Christ, then it was not of God. Furthermore, if the method or process used was unscriptural then it most certainly would not be from God. A simple yet profound guideline. One to be recognized. I should have been honest with myself many years sooner because the whole thing had produced a myriad of confusions within me even early on. I should have at least realized that later on when I was finally saved. Alas, I did not and subconsciously did not want to I think. We are only lied to as we desire. Or rather, lies only have an effect on us as we want them to in our old nature.


I was eighteen when I first heard live preaching. We ended up meeting a missionary family who became stranded at our home in dangerous weather. That was the beginning of a long and interesting friendship but eventually it became strained when a wolf entered into our circle. It was back then I began to hear the gospel for the first time that I am consciously aware. I recall being primarily welcoming of the Word and interested. My father was saved within that first year and joined that church. I remember being at his baptism and not fully understanding what it was about but glad that I was there. I was sporadically attending their home services, recognizing I deserved hell in a spiritually immature way. I have vivid recollection of never really disagreeing on what the preacher taught. All of it seemed to pretty much make sense to me. It was in this time frame of a couple years, that I wondered if I was saved. I questioned it. I hoped I was. I figured I might be and then I would think that I was not. I continually was not sure and never actually convinced. I was a depressed spirit; not nearly as excited about life as some. Paranoid and fearful of everything that I could not handle. That was almost everything. I was socially crippled and knew I could not take care of myself in such a dastard world. I was long certain that I did not want to bring a child into such a place. When I finally left home, I cast myself into the brutality of civilization and did not fair all that well. I hated myself and hated most of the world. I was lonely and depressed. Worried. Then I found better rent and inadvertently found my first husband who was my landlord, only four months after leaving home. We lived together until we were married a few months later. I didn’t like the idea of our living arrangements but wasn’t about to move out either.


I know I asked for salvation from hell on more than one occasion as though asking was going to do anything when we are commanded only to believe and repent….in which case we must be made to believe in order to repent.  At any rate, any kind of hell was a pretty far away concept but one that I treated as a strong probability. I understood that sincerity was important yet meant nothing outside of truth. I recognized that I deserved hell in a spiritually immature way. Any beliefs that I had were more intellectual than anything in fact. I recall being in humbling but not fully broken states. I did believe the logistics of the gospel and was not void of feeling toward God and because of this I at times felt that I was probably saved. Yet, I had doubts more often than not and I realized there were no fruits. I functioned and comforted myself in a little portion of faith or confidence that I did not seem to have before hearing the gospel. As small as it was. I seemed to understand that without God, I had nothing, but my trust in God was mortifyingly minimal and miserable. Yet, neither did I trust myself. As my confidence in myself and the world continued to decline, my confidence toward God was slowly growing in at least the emotional sense. I assumed I was saved but still had my doubts most of the time. No real evidence. I very occasionally attended services miles away. When it was convenient. Periodically I was affected, then I would go back to sleep and pretend that all was well, if not with the world, at least with me. I did not understand the real need of attendance or regular teaching. Was a spiritual renegade and extreme individualist.


Then in December of 1993, I remember being tremendously broken over everything in my life. Absolutely everything. Alone in my eventless and pathetic bubble, suffering from social anxiety disorder, nonspecific paranoia, seven grain panic, and a complex array of depression, I knew that no one could rescue me. I was quite sure I was lost, which sent me into further depression. On my good days I hoped I was saved which sedated me through. I was never certain in any case. I turned to God in what I believe for the first time, was complete sincerity or the closest thing humanly possible. I was begging God to save me from everything I needed saving from. I knew I was not certain of my salvation and I was not certain of anything. At that point I recall knowing that He understood what I needed much better than I did. I was terribly confused and I believed that He had the remedy. Of course, I long understood that everything was through Jesus and that nothing was outside of him. I was far from not understanding the principles of the gospel. It seemed to be quite a lot more than intellectual understanding by now. I was finally being sufficiently broken by God. I realized not only in my head but also in my heart that I needed Him to rescue me. In all my uncertainty, I was certain about that. So here I was that night, calling out to God to save me from literally EVERYTHING that He knew I needed saving from. I needed Him to cover it all. Still I do not believe that I was saved that night or even that week. I was sealed a month later. I can only guess, that even though I was fully broken that night in late December, I still was not completely made willing to be found in the hands of God. Or had I, it would mean that I had been saved that night. For what ever reasons. Perhaps afraid to let go and perhaps even afraid of some personal sacrifice that would have to be made on my part. I do not doubt that being young and also having never really done anything in my life, I was reluctant and dispassionate about having any more rules and regulations placed on me. Of course I had it all turned around the wrong way. The recipe to general survival/success is not by putting God on any shelf for later consideration. And how do I know I was not saved that night? I guess because I did not receive the assurance of the Spirit as I did the next month. Neither did I feel joy afterwards. Neither did I tell anyone I was saved. Neither did I immediately decide to be baptized and start regularly attending services. I was not yet made ‘willing in the day’ by the Spirit of God. I never began to do these things until January.


In the midst of severe depression and only a couple years into my marriage, I was at my wits end and had made an appointment months ahead, to see the only practicing hypnotherapist in the countryside. I was reluctant but felt that I had no choice. I was paying sixty an hour so I wanted it to work and I was not playing around. Yet I wondered if I could be successfully hypnotized because many years before my father could not be hypnotized by the renowned magician Ravine. So I went in for an hour long session and he assured me that this cannot happen and that indeed everyone can be tranced. Three hours later, he reluctantly lets me slip out his door, never having gotten past the first of the three stages of hypnosis. I was charged for only one hour. I was set up for another appointment by him in two weeks which I never kept because I ended up regenerated in the meantime. Oddly enough, I met a woman that week who invited me out to a home study group. I was coerced into it by her and was not completely sure at the time what they were because they never said and I did not press. Turns out they were Pentecostals who had their log home on the edge of a little secluded lake. They were wonderful people. Still, I had no real intention of continuing to go because I already considered myself a Baptist and had been long warned about the Charismatics and their Synergistic view of salvation by works. Even though I was not travelling the hundred miles return to my church very often and I was not an actual member, I still considered it to be my church. I know that it would have appeared that my greatest obstacle unto salvation at that point was having faith in God. Of course, I did not have faith because I was not regenerated as yet….but I recall being aware of the fact that I did not have faith and that I could not give it all over to God. In my unregenerate state, I understood for the most part, that I could not cause my salvation to happen….yet I suppose I still was not completely clear on all of that and neither was it any more of an understanding than intellectual. I do recall that much of an understanding. As much as anyone who is yet to be saved can understand. So I went for a couple of nights and the five women and four men separated on different sides of the home into prayer groupings. We were in the front room spilling our hearts out to each other. I cannot remember if the women were praying as yet. It was more a blur to me than anything. What I do remember was, beautiful Joanna with her slight speech impairment, taking both my hands in hers and telling me to give it up to Jesus. Just give it up to Jesus. Give it ALL over to Jesus. I knew she meant everything and I knew she meant it quite literally. I knew what I was supposed to do but I had never been able to do it. Not even close. I was a control freak by nature and had an especially hard time letting go and giving things over to God to take care of. Even if a part of me realized he could do everything better than me since he was my creator after all, I still found it impossible to give it over. Until that night that is. She could not have sounded a more simple message to me. She only said that one thing maybe five to seven times. Something began to happen about that time or moments after. Some degree of awakening. The evening there was soon over and I bid them farewell and methodically climbed into my little pink truck, then drove the difficult back road four miles out onto the highway. It was the thirtieth day of January and the weather had turned very cold. To save a great distance home, I was staying the night at the home of my sister-in-law. Since I was coming in very late I quietly found my way to the room that was up the long flight of stairs. It was a cold place and the frost was near showing on the inside of the walls. There were very few blankets. I felt warm inside. There was in fact, a fire within me. I was being carried into another dimension it seemed. An unusual quieting of my soul was taking place. I was unable to say anything. Not even whisper to myself. An awareness had begun to come over me somewhere between being at the cabin and my arrival now at this place. I was grateful that the house had quiet as though I was there alone. I am sure that I must have begun to think that I was alone. It seemed like it. Just me and God. Not a sound but my sporadic breathing. I was so enamored that I got down low beside the small bed and just stayed there without hardly moving. I remember that I was as rational as I was emotional; a fine balance that I had never maintained. I knew who I needed and who I needed was finally who I wanted. I was so very much caught up in the moment, that as cold as the room was I could not bring myself to climb into the bed. I stayed there for close to two hours before I finally saw fit to climb under the covers in all of my clothes. I laid out flat on my back staring up at the ceiling as though it was actually the sky. I was fully awake and it was now about two hours past midnight. I held my hands together for warmth but also in an almost praying position. I said nothing. I was still beyond words. In my mind, I could hear myself just repeating the name Jesus over and over with long spans of silence in between. Sometimes I was saying God. I was not so much calling, as I was praising. I was unable to stop praising. I never closed my eyes. They were wide open. Whatever I was experiencing, I refused to miss or dismiss. I was entranced. If someone had knocked on the door I would have barely noticed. God made sure no one knocked. I was so embraced by Jesus that I could barely feel the cold of my limbs. My body was frozen but my soul was liquid. Those wee hours were the first time I had ever honestly experienced real faith. For another two hours I remained flat on my back looking seemingly through the white ceiling. I finally realized that I had permission to fall asleep around four in the morning. I slept peacefully and I awoke about five hours later. I was in the very same position with the same feeling throughout me. It was like only moments had passed. Never lost my train of thought. I was unusually alert. I stayed for a while in that position even though the place was still miserably cold. The body was pretty miserable but my heart was melted. Finally, I arose and found my way to the top of the stairs. I found myself not wanting to go down as yet and so I just sat there at the long flight. I was drinking in absolutely everything and I was perceiving things differently. Nothing seemed the same anymore. The paint on the walls and the carpet under foot. It all seemed more interesting than usual yet I was not really interested in those things at all but rather something that was far beyond them. I reached out and felt the smooth texture of the stairwell but a large part of me knew that I wasn’t feeling the paint really at all. I guess because my spirit was feeling a higher level of awareness through the Spirit of God, so was everything about me including my physicality and intellect. I was especially sensitive yet not especially emotional because there was a profound peace and quieting within me. My own skin felt different. Nothing I touched felt the same. Nothing I saw looked quite the same. My perception is what had changed. I descended those stairs literally as the Spirit moved me. A stair or two at a time, I would slide down and then stay there for many undivided minutes. It took me about two hours to get from the top of the dozen stairs to the bottom. Again, I was alone at the place it was just shy of noon hour. I could tell that the temperature had dropped further and it was closer to forty below zero outside. Twenty below inside. I slowly gathered myself at the bottom of the stairs, got into my boots and coat, and left for the long drive home in what was now brilliant sunlight. Always clear when it was that cold. I spent a day keeping my secret to myself. At first it seemed too precious to share with anyone and then it became too precious to not share. I tried to explain to my now late husband with disappointing effect. I phoned the preacher’s daughter and told her I was finally saved and now I could at last understand what they had always meant by the Spirit regenerating someone. It wasn’t all about feeling but there indeed was feeling. I was given the facts for four years but until that day the Spirit had not entered my soul and I had not seriously desired God. I wanted to be baptized in the waters of the lake where I lived and fortunately that worked out. I remember my father and I discovering saskatoon berries for the first time near the waters edge. I did not know what they were but he knew. There was an interesting mix of charismatics and calvinists and in about the same number. Our church consisted of only about eight people and I had some of the people who were with me at home studies. It was all over pretty quickly. I remember my clothes were so heavy with water when I came back up the hill from the waters edge. I would have gained eight pounds easily. The northern lakes are very cold and that is why I waited until August in the slight hope that the waters would warm some. It was all kind of a blur to me anyway. I was just really glad that I could be baptized in nature and also where I lived. That was really important to me and I feel that God agreed. Obviously, or he would not have allowed it to happen. We had experienced freak snow literally every month of the year where we lived and it could have snowed on that day but happily it never did it. And neither did heavy forest fire smoke come rolling in. I would have still been baptized.


When I did a search a few years ago, I discovered that my given name is supposed to mean ‘sunny meadow’…while my maiden surname meant ‘immortal’, ‘everlasting’, ‘devine one’.
Guess there is no such thing as coincidence for those who believe in providence and an omnipotent creator of all the universe. I have fond memories of that first year on earth when I used to be able to sit in the sunny meadow and reflect of my minute existence and all the huge surroundings. There were some mountains behind the field in what I still think of as the east and I was so very attached to them. I loved the whole area we were living. I used to get almost teary eyed in that quiet field looking all around me and into the sky where there was only magnificent clouds. I was so young, I was pretty much only out in the finest weather. I would forget my parents were watching me. When I could not see or hear them, I went into my own private world of natural analysis. The edge of the field was my favorite place to be because I had such a vantage point. I could see so very much of the creation around me. I had an infants body and what seemed like a slightly seasoned soul. I still feel like I had a older perception of these things around me. A profound sense of realizing basic things without being able to put them into words. Without needing to put them into words. Though I have always had an unusual desire to find the words, even so there are no words to properly describe and it defies any common interpretation. I will still persevere to express what is laid on my soul.


In a sense, I was born twice in January. My physical birth was early January and my spiritual birth was late January. The exact hour I was saved, I am not sure. It was not quite like I was struck with lightening or experienced cardiac arrest. Though if I had felt the power of those hours combined all at once, I might well have suffered an attack of some kind because what I was feeling was very powerful. I can say that I believe I was sealed by the Spirit sometime after I got alone that night, in my closet so to speak. I am pretty sure that it was between eleven and two in the morning. Specifically between one and two on that last day of January 1994. As vivid as that night was, it all remains a incredible and sensational blur or a single moment, when trying to separate one moment from the rest. I was not counting at the time or watching any clock. I was far too preoccupied. Certainly, at the point that I was finally aware that I was saved, would have been about the time that I was sealed or I was sealed slightly before; my recognition would of necessity come after my regeneration if only a moment after. I am not aware of a time that evening or even the years before that I did not sense that my salvation was fully dependent upon my God and that, I had not so much been coming to God but that God had been coming to me.  It is said that if we answer the door that Christ stands at, we can be saved…but I conclude that we would never answer that door if Christ did not first knock. We are the clay and not the potter. The clay is a useless clump of matter that cannot move or speak without the potter enabling. We are only instruments that God uses unto righteousness and if He so desires. No one will come to Christ unless God the Father draws him.  A specific and effectual drawing to some. An irresistible grace and by that I mean a grace that we will not continue to always be resisting. A grace that eventually overcomes us and rescues us.

 

 

Romans 1:20 “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:”

Psalm 14:1 “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.”

Mark 1:15 “And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”

Acts 4:12 “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

John 6:65  “And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.”

Psalm 110:3  “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.”

Proverbs 3:5  “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”

Matthew 6:6  “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”


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