A Letter From A Changed Heart

Dear Facebook Family and Friends,
I just wanted to share with those who are interested about my faith. I can only tell you what happened to me in the hope that someone might find this helpful. For the first 17 years of my life, I was the “perfect” daughter.
I did what my parents told me to do, had good grades, active in church and school activities. I had no vices…smoking, drinking, cursing, etc.
People would often tell my parents that I was “everything a parent would ever want in a child”. At that time, I thought I was going to heaven because I was such a “good” girl and that I was “better” than most people my age.
Even feeling this way, I was never quite comfortable. I always feared dying because I wasn’t sure where I would go or what would happen to me. I prayed and prayed that God would give me comfort and peace about dying and relieve me of my fears
One night at an evangelistic meeting at church, a preacher spoke on John Ch. 3. The first question he asked when he walked up to the microphone was, “How many of you here know for sure that If you died today that you would go to Heaven?”
I had never heard such a question (at least I don’t remember ever hearing that). The question literally shook me to the core as I was thinking to myself, “How can anybody know that for sure???” The evangelist asked for a show of hands of those who were sure that they were going to heaven.
I along with many others did not raise my hand. It was a very sobering moment. That night, the evangelist preached a simple sermon on the Book of John, Chapter 3. He lovingly went through a gospel message on how we could know for sure that if we died that we would go to Heaven.
He explained that going to Heaven had absolutely nothing to do with how “good” or “nice” or “smart” I was. In fact, going to Heaven was not based on anything that Rhonda did or said, but in Christ Jesus alone.
He explained that being born again was being born from up above and that Christ dying on the cross and rising from the grave covered ALL of my sins…past, present, and future.
He explained how there was no list of good things and bad things that I had done that God looks at to determine my fate..that if I had more good than bad, then I would go to Heaven.
For the first time ever, I understand that going to Heaven was solely based on me putting my trust in Jesus Christ alone to forgive me for my sins, and that my good works or deeds could not save me.
That night I bowed my head and prayed to God to forgive me for my sins and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I asked Jesus to come into my heart and save me. I know my prayer was probably a little clumsy and inarticulate, and I did not quite know what it all meant, but Jesus saved me that day!
I wish I could put into words the burden that was lifted…the joy that was in my heart and how for the very first time, I understood that I was a sinner and that Jesus loved me enough to die for me; and because He died for me, I was going to Heaven to live with Him when I died.
It was just like the words to amazing grace, “I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see!” I remember trying to explain to people what happened to me, but most did not understand.
They told me, “But you were already a Christian.” They did not understand how a good and sweet girl was a lost sinner. Over the next year, I tried to learn as much as I could about my new found faith, but found it difficult to connect with people who could truly explain everything to me.
The next year I went to Marquette University and I had such a strong desire to know Christ and to grow as a Christian, but just  wasn’t sure how to begin. One day at the start of my sophomore year, I was in the library.
I overheard to young men discussing bible study and talking about Jesus. I was so excited to hear what they were talking about that I secretly followed them all over the library. When they went to the next floor, I quickly scurried behind them.
Finally after about a half hour of following them. I could not contain my excitement any longer and I went up to them and blurted out, “Please let me come to your bible study! I want to hear more about Jesus!” One of those young men was Jimmy McGee.
He led a bible study at Marquette. I remember Jimmy asking me the same question that the preacher had asked 2 years earlier. “How did I know for sure that I was going to Heaven?” Although I was already born again, Jimmy helped me to get assurance of my faith in Christ.
He also invited me to a bible study of believers. It was like being in heaven all the time, talking to people who had a true relationship (not a religion) with Christ.
That Marquette bible study helped steer Wallace and I in a direction of a deeper committed relationship with Jesus Christ.
I will never forget those wonderful brothers and sisters who were just as excited…just as hungry for God’s word as we were. That group included Jimmy and Genie McGee, David and Jacqueline Yeager, Elserita Burton, Elizabeth Rivera, Nilda Cordova, Kim Alexander Brooks, Stephanie Theard Haywood, Tina Boyle Whyte, Delola Whitfield, and Alicia Stingley.
I am sorry if I missed anyone. Our little group was so green, but yet so excited to serve God and God blessed us beyond measure :).
Before we got married, I wrote in my prayer journal that I wanted God to be glorified in our marriage, however he chose to use us. I had no idea what that meant as a 20-year old girl, but God was so faithful. Over the next 30 years God showed Himself in a might way in our lives!
Although we had many setbacks and trials, each challenge drew us closer to God and to each other. I had no idea what it meant to pick up my cross and follow Christ but I learned (and still am learning) what it means to die to self on a daily basis.
Sometimes the trials were so devastating and overbearing that we wanted to give up or give in. It was in those darkest times that we clung to the old rugged cross and God’s word even more! We hung on for dear life and when we could no longer hold on, God stepped in and held us tight.
Today, there is absolutely nothing that would make me give up Jesus. As the song says, “Take the world but give me Jesus! All its joys are but a name; But His love abideth ever,Through eternal years the same.” There is no trial or tribulation that we have gone through that I do not thank God for.
The fruit that came from Him purging us in the process is more precious than gold. The trials were extremely hard… the losses….illnesses…stress, etc. only made us more usable for Him…the broken vessels that we are.
I remember the times I had to look at my little babies with tear-filled eyes and tell them that God was good even though daddy is barely living…that God was good when they were in the hospital struggling to breath…that God was good when they lost close relatives and friends…that He was good when we didn’t have enough money to buy them toys and gifts for Christmas…that He was so good…so good ALL the time!
I encourage those of you who name the name of Christ to never “coast” in your Christian walk…to fight the good fight and not to give in to the pressures of this world…that your joy would be complete in Him and that it would not be dependent on no man, but on Christ alone…that you would never live defeated because your father is the King…that you would boast in nothing, nothing but Jesus Christ alone.
If you do not know my Jesus, you might want to try Him. ” Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him (1 Corinthians  2:9).
He is all the world to me… the only thing worth living for and the only thing worth dying for. Be blessed dear ones and know that each and every one of you are prayed for and loved.
Shared with permission from my sister and friend, Rhonda Cocroft Powell.

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