"I have never doubted that God existed. Here
in Oskaloosa, Iowa, that does not seem so
remarkable. But in the area of The Netherlands
where I grew up it was. There were not that many people that went to church, and even less that made Christ part of their daily lives. Nearly two hundred kids attended my class in high school. I only knew of one other Christian.
When I was little, my folks shared with me about Jesus. Even from a young age it all made sense to me. When I became a teenager, however, I realized that God wanted me to do more than just believe that He was real. I was thirteen when I was in church one Sunday morning, and it was as if God was speaking to me in my mind. He invited me to “give my whole heart to Him”. I cried, thought about it, and decided against it. Now you have to know that I always tried to be a good girl. And I never did anything ‘wild’. But even so, I knew I failed God all the time. I realized I could not live up to His standard. So I had a plan. I was going to improve myself until I was good enough to really surrender my life to Him and I would live happily ever after. As you can tell, any realism was missing from my strategy. However hard I worked, I was not able to make myself good.
I had other reservations also. What would happen if I “gave my heart to Him”? Would I loose all control over my life? Surely my life would become very boring! That terrified me! I was young and wanted to enjoy life a little longer. Besides, I already was different enough at school.
God kept knocking on my heart for three years, and for that many years I kept making excuses. Until one day I finally gave up. I surrendered my heart, I belonged to Him now…. If I only had known what was on the other side of that decision, I would not have waited that long! Until I surrendered to God as Boss in my life, I had not understood what it meant to have a relationship with Him. The Bible began to speak to me, and I began to know peace because of it. I was able to respond to Him in prayer. Life began to fall into place. Slowly I understood that Jesus died on a cross for imperfect people: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8b). God did not expect me to be perfect before I would become His child. In fact, He knew all along it was impossible. By now I knew it too.
I am so very thankful that I can live a life with God. Not that everything is always easy, but He has given me so much hope and purpose! I went on to Bible College and was just blown away by the richness of the Bible! It was a true gift to be able to understand more and more how God’s point of view can explain the world around me.
Admittedly, I have to chuckle when I think about my worries about a boring life if I ‘really’ would become a Christian. I went to Bible College in Belgium, attended Missionary Training School in the Czech Republic, spent a good part of my life as a missionary in Hungary, and last but not least married a wonderful American man from Oskaloosa, Iowa. I have had my share of excitement and more!