God’s Answer to a Grandmother’s Prayer

I was born to a believing mother and unbelieving father.  My grandparents took care of me a lot when I was young, and they were very seeking Christians. I would go with my grandparents to their denomination and by the age of eight, I believed definitely in the Lord.  I wanted to get baptized but was told it was against their regulations, so being disheartened, I gave up being a Christian for the next four years. During the summer of my twelfth year, I visited my grandmother’s house again and joined their Sunday evening meetings, which were so enjoyable because of the emphasis on the gospel. It was in those meetings that the Lord repeatedly convicted me of my need to confess Him and be baptized, but meeting after meeting I would argue back within. By the end of the summer, I was exhausted of fighting the Lord, so I gave in to Him and got baptized. In my baptism, I met the Lord in a real way. I knew I was saved and began to develop a personal relationship with Him.

But by the time I reached the end of high school, I had forgotten about my salvation experience. Outwardly, I was a typical 17-year-old, but inwardly I was empty and searching. I tried many different things, including things which got me in trouble, in order to satisfy my emptiness, but I only ended up exhausting all options and getting discouraged to the uttermost.  One day, when I had reached my end, I was reminded of Jesus.  Crying out to Him, my despair was lifted and I was filled with joy.  Jesus had come to me again!  I was joyful again!  I told all my friends what had happened to me, and three days later, a fellow student invited me to a meeting of the local church in my city.  I later found out that the very day the Lord had recovered me back to Him was the day those believers had had their first meeting.  I have met with the church since that day, many years ago.

One of the first things I was impressed with is that God doesn’t want me to improve my behavior, but He wants to get into me and fill me. My initial experience of salvation was just Jesus coming to me the first time.  Now He wants to grow in me by coming into me more and more. When I first began to meet, I wasn’t told a set of do’s and don’t’s but was instead encouraged to touch God in my spirit, the deepest part of my being. I was encouraged to call on His name, pray over His word, and fellowship with other Christians. Bit by bit, I would contact the Lord in my spirit and experience Him. Through these experiences, I touched my spirit and substantiated the things of God. This was real faith. I was no longer just trying to live a Christian life, I started to live Christ.

One example of this was a time I was at a conference waiting with another Christian for a ride.  Both of us had been busy during the day and didn’t have much to fellowship about, but we instead started to call on the name of the Lord in a quiet way. Each time we called, we touched something a little sweeter of the Lord. Finally, we felt so full we couldn’t even call anymore– and when we looked at our watches, half an hour had passed!  I actually remember that experience more then anything spoken of in the conference.

Besides my own experiences of the Lord, I have found the ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee to be most helpful. Through attending many conferences over many years and reading many books, I have come to respect what the Lord has done in them and am impressed at how faithful they were as servants of the Lord.  I never met Watchman Nee, but I did meet Witness Lee and attended many of his conferences when he was alive.  I never saw him promote himself or seek anything for himself; his ministry was always for the Lord’s interest. His speaking always caused me to seek the Lord more, love Him more, and brought me into a greater oneness with other Christian believers. He also never hesitated to give credit to other Christians upon whose work or writing he based his work.

One of the greatest treasures I have received from this ministry is a real love for the Lord. It didn’t happen overnight, but gradually over the years, my love for the Lord has grown and my walk with the Lord has deepened. These two must go together. How can I walk with someone without love? An extract from a footnote on I Corinthians 2:9 in the New Testament Recovery Version says, “To fear God, to worship God, and to believe in God are all inadequate; to love Him is the indispensable requirement.”  In Matthew 26, Mary was drawn by love to pour out her most precious treasure on the Lord; likewise, bit by bit I have been drawn to give up my earthly treasures for the sweetness of our Lord.  Not that I have stories of sacrificing great fortunes or positions, but day by day, I have given up my opinion, my way, and my choices for the Lord’s opinion, the Lord’s way, and the Lord’s choice. This has not been without cost, but the joy of the Lord has been well worth it.

I don’t remember how the conversation got started, but one time in the last years of my grandparent’s life, my grandmother confided in me that she and my grandfather had prayed much that my mother would become a missionary, but that their prayers had not been answered.  They then turned their prayers for my brother and me. She said she believed that God had answered her prayer through me in a different way. I also believe that it was their prayers that brought me back to the Lord and to the church, no matter how many times I wandered away.

Mark Whilden