The other day I was sorting through old papers and came across a program for a Carol Service, Christmas 1997. I looked through it with affection, remembering the night. Then it caught my eye and my heart – Ladies Duet “For Those Tears I Died”. Those ladies were all of 7 years old and I can still see them, 2 little girls singing their hearts out. That was the night my heart broke with the knowledge of Jesus and what he had done for me but it’s not the beginning or the end of the story.
My salvation story started about a year and a half before that. In 1996, Tommy was really ill and God used that to bring Tommy to Him but I was alright, thank you very much. I had been turned off official religion as a young catholic girl who had to go to mass, come what may and every night during lent. It was completely pointless in my eyes and the thought of having to go to church actually made me queasy. Anyway, God loved me and as long as I lived a “Christian” life, was good to people, did no harm and acknowledged God as being there, I was fine. I actually said that to Tommy’s pastor and was highly offended when he said that I was heading for hell. I was a good person.
But I was really happy that Tommy had found something that helped him and I helped out by making tea for visitors from the church when they called to the house but I never hung around. As time went on, Tommy got more ill and there were times he wasn’t well enough to drive. But he wanted to be at church so I had to bring him. I used to drop him off and go back home. Sometimes I would stay for the singing – I always loved singing – and then as time went by, I would go up to crèche and stay there till the sermon was done. I never stayed for that, ever. I even went to Tommy’s baptism and left him back at the church for the service after but went home and came back for tea and cake when the service was over. During this time, Tommy was reading the bible and on the nights he wasn’t able, he asked me to read it to him. Somehow a bible ended up on my locker permanently – God has His ways.
Christmas 1997, Tommy invited me to the Carol Service. He said I would love it; it was being done by the kids, from as little as could be to about 12 years old. So I happily went along, looking forward to being entertained. And it was as lovely as I expected it to be. Towards the end, these 2 little girls came out and, so very earnestly sang
“You said You’d come and share all my sorrows,
You said You’d be there for all my tomorrows;
I came so close to sending You away,
But just like You promised You came there to stay;
I just had to pray!”
And the song continued
”……………I felt every teardrop,
when in darkness you cried.
And, I’m here to remind you,
That for those tears I died.”
(Words and Music by Marsha J. and Russ Stevens)
Now I was crying a lot of tears at the time and yet the singing in that church always helped soothe me. Listening to that song that night, my heart broke and I thought – that’s why Jesus came! He went through any amount of suffering to share and understand my tears! Tommy’s visitors had all talked to him about pain and a fallen world and had given him bible verses but I didn’t pay attention to that much. It was religion. But that night it became personal. Don’t every think that inviting someone to the family service with the kids singing or reciting is just cute. God can reach the hardest of hearts through the innocence of the young.
I didn’t surrender that night. In fact it was Easter week before it all came to a conclusion. I was now attending the church more often, even sitting through sermons sometimes. I spent a lot of time with the church family and noticed that there was a peace amongst them, even through bad times, that defied explanation. Sometimes scripture would immediately make sense, where before it was all double Dutch and occasionally interesting. But I was both prideful and stubborn. For one thing it was all too easy so there had to be a catch. Also there was absolutely no way I would give those kind people praying for me the satisfaction of being right. Terrible reasons I know.
Easter week, I was in dreadful form. I couldn’t talk to Tommy at all. He had done nothing wrong but I still blamed him for something. The pastor and his wife came for a cup of tea and ambushed me – make a decision! You know the truth! I was furious. I coldly and politely said I would think about it but that if Jesus would change me, that was a deal breaker. I was happy as I was and didn’t need changing. Valerie the pastor’s wife said that I would still be Teresa, just a better Teresa. That scared me. I now recognise spiritual warfare but then, all I knew was that I would be different, my life would change, I was giving up control of my life.
Good Friday we were expecting a young Christian couple up to spend the day, playing a board game, Risk, which we had done before, laughing and drinking coffee, eating goodies. Just another long Good Friday. I woke up and seeing the bible on the locker, and being a good catholic girl, I thought I should acknowledge the day that was in it. I opened the bible at random and it opened in Mark at the crucifixion. I read about Jesus suffering, his death, the veil of the temple being rent in twain. It was so vivid. It really scared me. I jumped up and told Tommy I was going out. This was Good Friday – nothing open. But I didn’t think of that. I went to the house of the girl who was due in our house and said, Come for a coffee. We went to Bewleys hotel in Newlands Cross and surprise it was open. We stayed there for hours. We drank at least 4 mugs of coffee. God bless her young heart, she sat there and said very little but smiled and listened to me work it out. She answered any questions I put but looking back I think she was really just sitting there praying most of the time. Eventually we realised that the guys had no idea where we were. Peacefully – at about 7pm – we went home and when the guys asked where we had been, we laughed and said “Drinking Coffee”. That night in the privacy of my bedroom, I surrendered my life to Jesus, telling him I didn’t understand everything, didn’t agree with everything I had been told about the bible but that I would trust that, in time, He would either explain it or give me peace about not understanding, That He has. We have had some times since then but the journey has been always under the control of the Sovereign God of all Creation.
My life verse: Philippians 4:6-7 (New International Version, ©2011)
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
[Editor’s comment: The above piece is a transcript (provided by Teresa herself) of the testimony that she shared during one of our Sunday Morning Services as part of our “Sharing Our Story” series and is published here with her permission and our thanks and with all rights reserved.]