Joe’s office was having another contest. This time the prize was a trip to the Bahamas.
“Are you ready to work, Donna?” Joe asked.
“I don’t know,” I teased, “I’ve still got my tan from Barbados. I don’t know if I can handle two trips in one year.”
The mortgage we held was maturing in the spring. There was really nothing to motivate me to work night and day other than the fact I wanted to look good in an office now filled with successful agents. I didn’t want to look like a loser, a label many in the profession applied to Christians.
“They become a Christian and lose that ‘killer instinct’!”
I had no intention of depriving my family of precious time, but I was certainly willing to give the contest a good try. Shortly after the contest was in full swing, one of the agents couldn’t handle all the business that was coming his way.
“Would you like a client, Donna?” he asked. “We’ll go 50/50.” Tom was the type of guy you’d want for your brother. Pleasant, sincere and a buddy to everyone.
“Sure I do, I’ve hardly racked up any points towards the Bahamas."
He was well on his way to the top, far above everyone else in points and it didn’t look as if anyone could dream of catching him. I took his client out the next day and was typing an offer by nightfall. “We’ll split their backup listing too, okay? You’re too busy to service it properly, Tom.”
“I can’t believe it. I’ve been working those folks for months and you close them in one day. How’d you do it?”
“I don’t know. Got any more like them?”
“You bet I do — here.” He handed me a slip of paper with a new name.
The very next day I sold the new couple a property, out of town, close to where I lived. Again we had a backup listing to share. Only problem with both deals was that both couples wanted the properties they saw so much, that they had placed ‘firm’ offers on the homes, against my advice. I was now pressured to sell the ones that they lived in, otherwise they would each own two properties. I’d have to sit on ‘open houses’ every weekend until they sold.
The first weekend approached and I decided the town home was top priority since the other clients were paying cash for their purchase and would not be as financially strapped if theirs took a while to sell.
My clients, Bob and Debbie, on the other hand, needed the downpayment from the sale of their townhouse to close their deal without any complications.
I realized I needed divine intervention. I couldn’t wait for Debbie to leave. She had planned to go golfing and finally, after two hours into the open house, left. She was not the type of person that you would take out a Bible in front of and start praying.
The moment she left, I took my Bible from my purse, placed it on top of the newspaper I was reading and prayed, “Dear Lord, You know the situation I have here. This townhouse HAS to sell this weekend so that next weekend I can sit on the other property. I am not praying for greedy motives, but, I would also like the summer off to spend with the boys and it’s almost June. There’s a buyer out there, somewhere. Find him. Get him. Zap him here. Thank you, Lord.”
I put my Bible back in my purse and resumed reading my paper. Not five minutes passed, when the door opened and someone yelled, “Yoo-hoo?”
That was it! They were here. These were my ‘heaven sent’ buyers. My heart pounded in my chest as if this was my very first deal. Boy, Lord, do you move fast!
“Come on in!” I yelled back nonchalantly.
“Hold it! H-O-L-D IT! We’re not here to buy a house. I don’t even know why we stopped, we were on our way to go grocery shopping.”
“That’s okay. I’ve got a full pot of coffee you can help me drink.”
“We don’t live too far from here. Got a big house with an in-ground pool. Don’t know why we stopped to look at a townhouse.”
I knew. I knew they were the buyers the Lord literally zapped off the street.
His wife was looking around the living room, “Awfully small, isn’t it?”
“Anything would look small when you live in a big detached home.” I replied, still struggling to keep from showing any anxiety. Inside I was doing a jig.
“How much did you say they want for it?” the fellow asked.
“$56,600.00. They have to sell, they’ve already bought another place.”
“Tell you what,” he continued, “I’ll give you $50,000 for it.”
“What are you doing, Doug? Are you crazy? What are we going to do with a townhouse?”
He hadn’t even seen the upstairs! “I don’t know. For fifty thousand I think it would be a good investment.”
“Well, why don’t you put that on paper and I’ll see what I can do. Would you be willing to come to my office now and put in an offer?”
He agreed, "Sure!"
“Go up Erin Mills Parkway and I’ll catch up and honk; you can follow me there. It’ll be easier than trying to explain where it is.” I almost broke both legs running up and down the stairs turning off lights, emptying ashtrays, clearing away coffee mugs and collecting my belongings.
I ran outside to find I had locked myself out of my car and their car was already half a block away. I ran after it.
“STOP! STOP! WAIT!”
I didn’t even know their names, except that he was Doug, nor where they lived. I could just see myself putting an ad in the paper: LOST: ONE BUYER. URGENT! PLEASE COME BACK.
They spotted me in their rear view mirror and stopped. I was yelling at the neighbours, “I SOLD THIS HOUSE, SOMEONE GET A CLOTHES HANGER BEFORE THEY CHANGE THEIR MINDS!”
“Hey, didn’t I go to school with you? Grade eight, right?”
“Never mind, don’t ask questions, just get me in my car before those people change their minds.”
The secretary had already left for the day and I had to type the offer myself.
“Why are we doing this, Doug?”
“I don’t know, Doe. Beat’s ME!”
“You aren’t going to change your minds are you? You know once you sign this document you are committed. You’re not going to stop payment on this cheque are you?” I asked peering over the typewriter. God, don’t let that happen, okay?
“Oh, no. Don’t worry. Once I make up my mind, that’s it. I just don’t know WHY I’m doing this. Instead of going to buy groceries, I buy a house. It’s not like me at all-- not at all.”
I ran back and forth all evening, trying to get either the vendors down in price or the buyers up. Finally after one a.m., we reached a deal. Doug was adamant about getting the townhouse for fifty thousand, and when on the third signback, he offered the ludicrous sum of $50,271.00, everyone realized he was not about to budge on another try.
“Stay and have coffee before you go home. This is a celebration.”
They were such a fun couple, and in such a giddy mood, that I sat down and made myself comfortable. Once too often, he wondered out loud, wondering what ever possessed him to buy that house.
“Listen folks, I’m going to tell you why you bought that house. For all it’s worth, and you can take it or leave it, but — five minutes before you came in, I had my Bible out and was praying for a buyer.”
“You carry a BIBLE WITH YOU?” He blurted, spurting out coffee at the same time.
“Oh, yeah,” I reached down in my purse and produced the proof. “I have one in my car, too. I was praying for a buyer and there you were."
“You mean to tell me you go to church on Sundays, too?” he asked, half in disbelief, suspecting I was kidding.
“Twice, every Sunday.”
“TWICE? ha, ha, ha. WHY?”
“I don’t want to miss anything!”
“Ha, ha, ha, ha, what’s there to miss?”
“You wouldn’t believe what goes on at our church.”
“What?” He placed both elbows on the table, eyebrow raised, and leaned over very close, as if expecting me to whisper the answer. Dorothy, or Doe, as he called her, was crippled with rheumatoid arthritis and in constant pain. Her fingers were almost pointing in the opposite direction. She’d been on disability pension for three years.
“Miracles take place. We don’t believe you have to accept sickness or disease. We believe the Lord CAN and WILL heal us."
“Are you putting me on?”
“Not at all. Why don’t you come and find out for yourself?”
I spent about another hour telling them they could have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and told them of the healings that I knew about personally. They agreed that they would come to church, not that morning, as it was now past three a.m. but certainly the following Sunday morning. Not that he took any of this too seriously and giggled the whole time I talked, but he was definitely coming to see what I was talking about.
Dozens of people had promised me they’d come to church and dozens never showed up, but somehow I had a feeling that they would actually show up. I felt that the Lord had more in mind for them than to just dump a townhouse on them.
I now thought I had God all figured out, down pat, and planned to pray ‘in’ my next buyers the same way, the following Saturday. The Lord knew that I would be up to the same tactics. Surely, I thought, if it worked once, it would work again. The other clients needed their home sold just as badly.
I soon found that the Lord was more imaginative than I could ever suspect. I woke to a dull, grey, rainy Saturday morning and called my clients asking if they’d mind if I cancelled the open house. Not only because of the rain, but I was thoroughly wiped out. Since Doug and Doe were coming to church the next morning, I couldn’t catch up on my sleep and sleep in on Sunday either.
Three days later, Tom advised that an offer had come in, and he himself went out and presented the offer. The second home was sold and I could now start my summer vacation a few weeks earlier than planned.
Not only was God creative, but considerate. He didn’t want me to waste an entire Saturday, stewing and in a tizzy, wondering why He wasn’t sending any more buyers, when He knew all along someone was buying the home the following Tuesday, anyway.
Sunday morning, I was standing out in the hall, even ten minutes after the service started, thoroughly disappointed that I had been wrong about Doug and Doe. They never showed up. Darko insisted that I call them and urge them to come to the evening service.
“You can’t drag people to church, Darko. If they don’t want to come, you can’t force them.”
He persisted until I finally agreed to call them.
“Doug, you broke your promise. What happened?”
“You see, it’s like this. . . We went to a party last night...and we told them. . . that we ran into a real estate agent...who runs around with a Bible praying for clients. . . bought a house from her. . . and now we’re going to go to her church ha, ha, ha, ha. You should have heard them laugh. Anyway, we came home after four this morning and we just couldn’t get out of bed, miracles or no miracles.”
“Will you come tonight?”
“Can’t. We’re having company over for a barbecue.”
“If they don’t show up, will you come?” I already had a plan.
“They’ll be here any minute. They’ll be over here by three.”
“If they don’t show up, Doug, will you come?”
“You’ve got yourself a deal, but don’t hold your breath, darling.”
I quickly dialed Robin. “Robin, I don’t have time to explain, but we have to pray and keep someone from going to a barbecue.” It was nothing new for many of us to be praying over the phone, with each other, not knowing what exactly we were praying about. We knew “That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18: 19, 20).
I was sitting near the back of the church when I felt a tap on my shoulder. Turning I saw Doug shaking his finger at me, “You had that Bible out again, didn’t you? They never even phoned to say they weren’t coming. We waited till the last minute and they never showed up.”
“Lord,” I thought, ‘I don’t like to push your hand like this, but could you touch them tonight? We know they’re not going to come a second time. It’s now or never!”
Many might think that my prayers don’t sound very holy or very reverent, but this is how I talk, this is how I think, this is how I am, and I don’t put on any airs for God. This is how I live. I pray on the run. I pray spontaneously and He hasn’t objected yet. When I have the time, I spend half an hour talking with God and get into deep and spiritual worship, but I don’t live a slow, easy pace and therefore my prayer life speeds up with my feet, and I don’t stop to correct or upgrade my grammar.
We never have two church services exactly the same and you never know what to expect, each Sunday experiencing a fresh new reunion with the Almighty. Tonight there would be no choir, the pastors wouldn’t be preaching, there would not be a skit or a film. A lady from a Scarborough church was going to sing and minister for the entire hour and a half.
A petite blond, with a dynamic voice, took the mike and sang a love song to Jesus and then went on to introduce herself.
“I’ll sing one more song and then tell you how I became saved.”
It was apparent why she was going to minister and sing through the entire service; her voice was in the category of Anne Murray. You could listen to her for days, a true songbird.
“I’d like to introduce my family to you. . . Where are you? Stand up, please.. . . There they are. . . my two lovely girls and the big guy’s my better half. A few years ago my youngest daughter was diagnosed as having rheumatoid arthritis.”
Goosebumps crawled up and down my arm. My reaction had nothing to do with a spiritual encounter with God. Anyone, whether they believed in God, or not, would realize the significance of that statement and would break out in goosebumps, if not hives.
“My baby wasn’t even five years old and her future was destroyed. I shook my fists at heaven and screamed, ‘If you’re up there — why did you do this?’”
Then she sang another song which relayed how God reaches down to hurting man and wipes away all his tears.
Sitting frozen, not moving an inch or a muscle, and my head pointing straight, I glanced to see if there was any reaction from Doug or Doe.
Doug’s head was cocked to one side and his mouth hung open. Dorothy had tears streaming down her face and was clenching and unclenching her fists, expanding her crooked fingers.
All glory and honor to Your name.” I prayed. “Thank you,
Jesus. Almighty and Omniscient Saviour, we bow before You.
To the King of kings and Lord of lords, be glory forever and ever.
When you do something, Lord, you sure do it GRAND!”
After more than two years, God still overwhelms me, beyond belief, over and over. Each time I realize that He is mightier than my mind can comprehend. Majestic and Sovereign and Omnipotent. Realizing He had planned it all weeks ago: the clients; the sale; the open house; Doug and Doe driving by my sign; this service; ALL prearranged. All I had to do was go through the motions. Be obedient to His will. What would have happened if I hadn’t witnessed to them? I never even attempted with the vendors, they never even knew I was a Christian. I could have missed that ever so small voice which urged, “Tell them. Tell them!”
“As everyone can see; there is nothing wrong with my precious darling. Not a trace of rheumatoid arthritis,” she continued.
“I didn’t listen to the rest of the message. My mind was trying to absorb and understand this new magnitude of God that He was showing me. If I turned myself to Him more fervently, listened to his voice, and obeyed His will, the earth could be turned inside out, mountains moved, and the heights of heaven reached.
The service over, I couldn’t wait to hear what was on their minds. “There’s a Burger King up the street. . . want to go for a coffee?”, I asked hoping they wouldn’t just leave without finding out down to the last detail if they had been touched.
“Wait till you hear what happened to me here, Donna. Hurry, quick, we’ll follow you."
Not only had they realized that the Lord reached down to them, Doug saw a vision and most importantly was convinced Doe would be healed.
We sat there ‘til midnight. Doug asking question after question.
“How? Why? How come? Where has He been till now? How can you get to be my age and not even hear of a ‘born again’ Christian? I went to church for years as a young guy and never met God.”
“Possibly you went to a dead church that was preoccupied with dogma rather than the Living God. If you sit back and ponder over your life, there probably were many times that God reached out to you, but you weren’t interested, nor were you ever told that He was there, waiting for you to submit your life to Him.”
Every Sunday from there on in, rain or shine, Doug and Dorothy were at both services.
“Why do you go to church twice on Sunday, Doug?” I joshed.
“Don’t want to miss anything.” he’d respond in a phony, high-pitched voice, imitating my tone.
They even joined adult Sunday school. I had enough trouble getting up for the morning service, much less going an hour earlier for Sunday school.
I introduced them to Sue, and we would usually meet after the evening service for a coffee and yak for hours. At one such coffee klatch, not even two months later, Doug commented, “What I wouldn’t give for Dorothy to be healed.”
Sue responded, “Yes, let’s pray right now for Dorothy’s complete healing.”
Sue led the prayer. She then took Doe’s hands and moved them in a clockwise motion. We could hear bones cracking and snapping.
“I can move my wrists! Look everyone, my wrists are moving!”
We encouraged her to spend the rest of the week claiming the healing. By the following week, she could hold a mug of coffee and do her own ironing. The doctor had said her arthritis was in complete remission. She was healed, except for one finger that bent downward and was still very swollen.
“The Lord told me my finger would be healed when I got baptized in water. When’s the next baptism scheduled?”
I decided, rather than constantly ask and yap at God, I would listen instead. But I was not prepared for what I heard one morning, sitting on a bench, in the hall of the courthouse, in the midst of about 600 to 700 people. A tiny lady was approaching, to sit in the only vacant spot, beside me.
The Lord spoke three words: “Witness to her.”
“Lord you can’t do this to me. I can’t turn to a perfect stranger and ask, ‘have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour?’ DON’T BE RIDICULOUS! I’d lose my job if anyone got wind of this. I can’t; not here.”
I was arguing adamantly deep in my spirit, when this little lady blurted, “Oh I just PRAY my son gets out on bail!”, while turning toward me.
Say no more! Motormouth had an opening and it would be hard to stop me now. “Just keep praying, He’s listening.”
“Pardon?” she replied, not expecting a response because she was only using an everyday expression.
That was at nine o’clock in the morning. By one o’clock, and I had been talking continuously. She was holding on to my arm, following me to the nearby restaurant for lunch. I told her she could keep the little Bible I carried in my purse. She held it to her breast, tears streaking down her cheeks.
“For me? Oh, thank you, thank you kindly.” Her grilled cheese sandwich was soggy with tears. I continued encouraging her until we had to part at three o’clock. I told her to come to church, to get her son involved in our dynamic youth group. We had a hundred or so clean cut, ‘turned on to Jesus’ teenagers. I told her to pray for him, without ceasing. She was reluctant to let me go.
She never did come to church, but a few months later ran up to me in the same hall, “Donna, Donna, remember me? This is my son! Praise God, he’s off drugs. He got out on bail and was sent to a youth rehabilitation centre. He’s cleaned up his appearance. I’m so thankful to the Lord. We even watch those Christian programs together. He says he wants to change.”
I was a little ruffled to hear that she wanted to bring him to our youth group but the social worker discouraged her saying it was too religiously orientated and might be too much for him to swallow. TOO MUCH TO SWALLOW? A seventeen year old kid, out of school, out of work, on drugs and in trouble with the law, and church might be TOO MUCH FOR HIM TO SWALLOW! Maybe meeting 100 kids that didn’t smoke, drink or take drugs might be a bit of a shock, but how in the world could it hurt, especially with someone who has already tried everything else. Suicide might have been his next choice.
“Just keep reading that Bible and don’t you stop praying for him. Everything’s going to be okay.”
I thanked God daily for my boys. How proud I was of them. How far they were from the shallowness and moral decay of this world. When Dan was in grade seven, the class was given an assignment on astrology. The kids were asked to find their sign, read their charts for the following two weeks, learn the outcome and compare similarities with kids born under the same sign.
My son approached his teacher and stated he could not and would not do the thesis.
“This contradicts my beliefs and goes against the Bible.” The teacher replied he already suspected as much and allowed him to do whatever topic he desired. Dan was already being called Pastor by most of the school, and many of the students sought advice from him regarding their adolescent problems. He decided to do a project on Christianity. The vice-principal felt as Dan did and commended him for not compromising his beliefs.
The following year, the principal approached me the night Dan and Mike graduated, exhorting, “You have boys you can really be proud of. You don’t see many kids like them now-a-days. They’re good, decent, Christian kids.”
I sent her a dozen red roses the next day for those kind words.
Getting back to real estate, the contest had to be extended. Only Tom had won enough points and our other seven offices didn’t even have one entrant for the big prize. It was extended six weeks, giving at least one agent from each office a trip to the Bahamas.
Technically, Tom was the only entrant and therefore an automatic winner at our office, had there not been an extension. By the new deadline, twelve more agents qualified, including myself. Everyone was to meet at our downtown location, then each group of agents, from their respective offices, entered a room, placed their calling cards into a hat, and the agent whose card was drawn was the lucky winner.
For every hundred points, you could submit one calling card. Tom, had the most, throwing in four.
I started to pray, “Lord, Tom deserves this trip, it was once his already. Stretch forth your mighty hand and intervene and block anyone else from winning. It’s only fair that HE go.”
“And the lucky winner i-i-s-s-s. . . Donna Martonfi. Congratulations, Donna.”
“Oh, no — but — but — not me — don’t give the ticket to me.”
“Let’s get a picture of the group of winners,” they called out.
How could I win? Lord, WHAT HAPPENED?
“Tom, I’m sorry, Truly, I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be silly, Donna. My beef’s with the company,” he said hugging me. “Of all the people in the whole world, if anyone was to get my ticket, I’m glad it’s you. I’m happy for you, really I am.”
“I really feel bad about this, Tom.”
Ben was now arguing with me, “Donna, you worked hard too. Tom had four cards in that hat and more chance than anyone of winning. He had the advantage. Stop worrying.”
I grabbed each of them under the arm and we romped down Yonge Street to the car singing, “For she’s a jolly good fellow, for she’s a jolly good fellow.” Tom whooped it up making me feel certain that there were no hard feelings. Finally, it sunk in, I WON! I’m going to the Bahamas!
But Lord, we’ll have to buy Darko’s ticket and we’ll have to have spending money, meaning I was in possession of a prize which was going to cost me $1,500. Besides, I just came back from Barbados four months ago. Why did I win? Why? Why not Tom?
Ben had sold our other house, which had been a thorn in our side for so many years. We had received $12,500 from the city, $12,500 from our company’s mortgage and $91,000 from the sale of the house, reducing our financial burden by $116,000 in less than two years. Still, I did not have money to blow and could not see the purpose for this windfall. It’s not as if I needed a vacation.
I mentioned what had happened to Susan (Verna’s daughter).
“This could be a test, Donna. Maybe the Lord wants you to give the ticket to Tom. Have you ever thought of that? Just how hard were you praying for him to win, hard enough to hand him the ticket?”
“I can’t do that. We’d start tongues wagging all over town. It doesn’t take much to get real estate agents gossiping from coast to coast. Even Darko would get suspicious if I handed some guy our ticket; Darko doesn’t think the way I do. It would cause trouble all around.”
“Then, Bon Voyage!”
The other Sue had a different attitude. “The Lord blessed you for being unselfish, because you weren’t praying for yourself but someone else. I just know He has something very special in store for you down there. I don’t know what it is; but watch real, real hard. It’s going to be something magnificent.”
“All I can do is wait and see if you’re right.”
It’s amazing how the Lord used Sue and I to minister to each other. When one was down, the other was up and talking some sense into the other. We would often laugh, “It would be horrific if one day we both woke up with the glumps, THEN WHAT? Can you imagine both of us weepy or depressed on the same day? We’d keep every angel in heaven scurrying for days trying to sort out the mess.”
Just to emphasize how the Lord used this unique relationship, — I was muddling over a problem for a week and it was getting progressively worse. The Lord was not answering and I got the “I feel sorry for myself” blues and at two a.m. one night was howling into my pillow, wondering why the Lord had “disconnected my line”, when the phone rang.
“Donna, I don’t know what this is about and I hope I didn’t wake you but the Lord said He wasn’t going to let me get any sleep unless I phoned you and told you to read Philippians, 4:4. Does that make any sense?”
I sat up, wiping tears away, “YES! YES! Hallelujah! Let me just get my Bible.”
God had been speaking for days, but I just wasn’t listening, AGAIN. Three times that week that verse was directed to my attention. I even translated that entire chapter for my mother, and STILL I missed the message. Sometimes God has to hit me over the head with a sledge hammer and He knew that I would now finally get the message.
“He said for you to read the whole thing.”
Once again tears were streaming down my face, only this time I was crying for joy. I was getting the message, loud and clear.
When I finally reached Fiona to tell her my good news, that I had won the trip, she asked me to come over because she had four or five Christian girls coming for coffee. An hour after I arrived, I realized something very unusual. I had never been in a room with one Christian, much less five, where the Lord was not mentioned once.
Quickly I brought the topic around to Christ.
“You have to tell them your testimony, Donna,” Fiona urged.
“I don’t know where to start. Really.” I had nothing to say, unusual as this may sound to anyone who knew me.
“It would take this girl all day to tell you what’s happened to her in just the last couple of years and she says she doesn’t know what to say.” Fiona related one of the many of my so “unbelievable, it’s believable” tales.
“Just listen to this; one day she was sitting beside me in church and leaned over and said, ‘the Lord told me you’re going to have a baby in nine months.’ I responded, ‘I know, for some reason I know that too.’ John and I have been trying to have a baby for three years, so Steven could grow up close to a brother or sister, and then out of the blue He let us both know that this is the time. The following week He told her it would be a girl. We’ll have to wait another four months to find out, won’t we? You’re the only one so far that’s said this,” pointing to her stomach, “is going to be a girl. You’re outnumbered 20-1.”
“If the Lord said it’s going to be a girl, I’ll gladly take His odds.” I quipped.
“Are you girls religious?” the tiny, dark haired girl sitting beside me asked.
“HASN’T ANYONE TOLD HER?” I almost shouted. No wonder I didn’t have anything to say before, I thought everyone in the room was saved. Now I had PLENTY to say. Half an hour after I started sharing with her, she unexpectedly started sobbing.
“What is it? What’s wrong?”
“I’ve done something awful. Just last week. I can’t live with it. I’m going to get excommunicated from the church if anyone finds out, even burn in hell.”
Amazing how anyone could be programmed into worrying that being excommunicated from the church outweighed burning in hell.
“No. No. No, you won’t. No matter what it is, Jesus Christ will forgive you. He LOVES you. He died for you. He doesn’t want you in hell.”
She admitted what it was that was haunting her.
“Wanda, last week you didn’t know better. Accept Jesus into your heart and ask Him to forgive you and He will. Not only will He forgive you but He’ll blot out that sin from your past and give you a fresh new page, never to dredge it up again.”
We said a prayer and I continued, “You’re a King’s kid now and the only place you’re going is straight up, Wanda, and don’t you let anyone tell you different. You have been ‘justified’ Wanda. That means; just as if you never sinned. Read Galatians 2 starting at verse 16:
‘Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified´.”
I handed her the Bible from my purse. “Read it daily, Wanda.”
“For me? I couldn’t keep THAT. It’s too expensive.”
I had been buying five dollar Bibles because I was giving away about three a week by this point, and just a few days earlier, when I had stopped to replenish my stock and Darko had insisted I buy an especially lovely, red one, that came in its own jacket.
“I can’t afford to give away twelve dollar Bibles; not at the rate I’ve been going through them," I told him.
“Keep this one for yourself then, it’s reduced from $29.95.”
Since I only had fifteen dollars with me, I couldn’t buy an extra one to give out.
“I have a feeling Wanda, this Bible was especially chosen for you, just a couple of days ago. I’m honored to be able to give it to you.”
“No one’s ever given me anything like this before. Thank you, thank you.”
She ran off saying she had to start reading it immediately.
“I’m so ashamed,” confessed one of the other girls, “here she’s had this deep dark secret and we’ve been having coffee with her for months and never once shared the Lord with her. This could all have been avoided if we even said something, even just last week.”
“The Lord has His timing. She was not meant to know last week, I guess. It could have posed insurmountable problems that she would not have been able to cope with then. If it happens again, at least she will have grown enough in the Lord to be more stable in trusting the Lord to solve it for her.”
Wanda’s life changed dramatically that day. Prior to accepting the Lord, her husband would drink, not go to work, constantly run off on her, leaving her to cope with three babies under the age of four and a half. Her life had been a disaster. Many times she had barely enough money to feed them. Her second youngest was mentally handicapped and was smaller in size, with less mental ability than her eighteen month old. He was always sickly and in and out of hospitals.
While I was vacuuming one day, the Lord told me he’d be healed. I shut the vacuum off just in time to hear a word of knowledge on a Christian program confirming that a small child was receiving a miracle.
I ran to the phone to tell Wanda. From that day on, that little boy progressed in leaps and bounds, and started talking and doing things more in proportion to his age bracket.
My mother had met Sue, Lorrie, Fiona, Doug and Dorothy, Wanda and her son, all now telling similar miraculous stories of what the Lord has done in their lives, just as He did in mine.
“I just can’t believe God talks to these people and does these things for them. I just can’t believe it, that’s all.”
“Then who does mother? Just who out there is curing all these ailments, phobias, problems and changing the lives of these people? Tell me. Surely you must realize after all you’ve seen and heard that someone is.”
“I don’t know. I’ve been praying to God and fasting to Saint Anthony all my life and I’ve never heard anyone talk back.”
“That’s your problem. You are making Anthony a god and the Lord says He’s a jealous God. Why should He talk to you when you’re busy praying to other gods.”
“How can you say such a thing? He’s just a saint, that’s all, I’m not making him a god.”
“Yes, you are. You along with millions of other people are praying all at the same time to the same saint, and therefore you consider him omniscient and omnipotent, elevating him to the level of God. A mere man could not only be at all those places to hear all those prayers, much less answer them. Only the Almighty can do that. Do you see? If Anthony could talk to you he’d be telling you NOT to pray to him but to God alone. He didn’t die for your sins, Jesus did. Why, Anthony’s hair must be turning white when he’s told what people are doing down here regarding him.”
“I never realized. I just thought I was praying EXTRA, that’s all.”
“When you can reach the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth, what ‘extra’ is there? You think Anthony or Jesus’ mother knows better than God what’s good for you, and when He refuses to give you something, you try to change His mind, going through Mary and the Saints? Don’t you see how ludicrous it all is? See what’s happened in the lives of all these people? Everyone has had a horror story of their own to tell. They’ve been healed of arthritis, cancer, epilepsy. They are now leading happy, changed, victorious lives. Many of them had prayed for years to ‘saint this’ and ‘saint that’. Why is it that God answers only when they have turned from all that? There is a difference between knowing there is a God and submitting your life to Him and acknowledging what He did for you, almost two thousand years ago, and accepting His salvation. Satan knows there is a God!”
“Are you two at this again?” my dad cursed entering the room. “Jesus Christ was nothing but a space alien. We were put on this planet as rejects from another galaxy...”
“Dad, you have to stop reading those science fiction magazines. How can you read and believe that trash and not want to read the book that has the answers to every emotional, philosophical, moral, economical and spiritual problem and question on earth?”
“Sure, we need a religion to keep us from running around murdering each other and stealing from each other. That’s all that the Bible is, just rules written by some smart man.”
“Don’t let anyone hear you talk like that, when it’s obvious you haven’t read it. It was written by many men, divinely inspired by God, over a period of thousands of years.”
“Yeah, yeah, it says the world’s coming to an end.”
“See, you refuse to learn or hear anything. The world’s not coming to an end, Dad. When we are on the brink of annihilating ourselves, that’s when Jesus Christ will return to stop us from blowing up what He’s created. That’s what it says.”
“They change the Bible every fifty years.”
“Really, how do you explain, since they have found the ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ in 1947, that they have found that it is 98.5% accurate to what was written thousands of years ago? The 1 1/2% that has been changed are expressions such as, ‘I laughed so hard my head fell off’, that would not make any sense to people from another era who had never used that phrase.”
“You can interpret the Bible in thousands of different ways. Everyone says that.”
I didn’t know why I kept on. We had this conversation the year before, and the year before that, and the year before that. I persisted hoping that for once it would sink in.
“You can only do that if you dissect it sentence by sentence, not if you read the whole story. When it says that Jesus healed a leper in Galilee, then He healed a leper in Galilee, period. You don’t presume the leper flew to heaven in a fiery chariot or that he became a monk and you don’t build a statue of the leper and start praying to it. It means that Jesus healed a leper. Period. Many passages mean many things to many people at different times in their lives, but words and stories remain the same.”
I really thought I was getting nowhere with him until the following day when my boys related what happened late that night, in front of their grandfather’s house, after I had left.
Some teenagers were making noise on his front lawn in the middle of the night and he yelled at them to leave. When they refused to move, he went downstairs and started beating them up. My mother summoned the police. When asked by the officer why he had punched them, he said, quote: “They were yelling foul things at me. If it wasn’t for four letter words, they would just not be able to speak at all. They should go to my grandchildren’s church and see what teenagers are like. Teenagers that have never even heard such words and don’t run around at night, spaced out on dope, bothering peaceful citizens.”
For my father, THAT WAS PROGRESS!
“Dad maybe you would have been more effective and got them to our church if you hadn’t beat them up first.”