I am the oldest of 5 children, the only girl (and yes, I was spoiled…somewhat). I grew up going to church for most of my life, but I did not have a real relationship with the Lord until I was 27 years old…and I will explain that in a few moments. I married my high school sweetheart in 1978, the day before my 21st birthday. In 2008 we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary, and I will say that I have the most wonderful husband; he is my best friend, my sweetheart, and my pastor. We have 4 children, 3 boys and 1 girl. They are all married and I am very blessed and praise the Lord as I say that they are all serving the Lord. We have 11 grandchildren. Whew! Christmas is expensive, and when our family gets together it is pretty wild, but I love every chaotic moment. So, I am a Christian, wife, Mom, and grandmother, and truly I treasure what makes me what I am…my husband, my kids, and my grandkids. My most precious treasure is my salvation that I received on May 9, 1985 when I trusted Christ as my Savior.
In May 2008 I spoke at a Mother/Daughter Tea for Mother’s Day. I gave my testimony using the story of the Secret Garden (the Tea theme) I hope won’t mind taking a journey with me to the day I found The Secret Garden…
As I mentioned earlier, I grew up going to church every Sunday. We went to Catecism and I learned many wonderful truths that I still believe today. I learned of God, the heavenly Father, Jesus, the Son and the Savior, and of the Holy Spirit. I learned that for our sins and salvation Jesus died on the cross, was buried and rose again on the 3rd day in fulfillment of the Scriptures. I knew all of these things from my childhood, and I believed them and I still believe them today. The problem was though I believed all of these truths, I had merely head knowledge, and it was just something I knew. The Bible says that the devil believes – and he certainly is not going to heaven. That was what I didn’t know; that I could be sure that Heaven was my home. I certainly hoped to go to heaven, I wanted to go to heaven, but I just wasn’t sure about it. I didn’t know you could know for sure… until May 9, 1985.
Of the large circle of friends I had from high school, there was one girl in particular that I kept in contact with. Suddenly, I noticed a change in my friend, she started inviting me to church (which I thought was nice of her, but I had no intention of going to her church – I would give her an excuse, but never planned to really go with her). I was glad that she was going to church. At the same time, my husband’s grandmother – who was a born again Christian was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and began desperately praying for our salvation. What I didn’t realize was that my friend had also been “born again” and was also praying for my salvation. I began to become very curious about being born again. I remember asking Nana what it meant to be born again, she replied that I needed to accept Christ as my Savior. I thought about what she said and I came to the conclusion that since I knew Jesus was the Savior that I must have accepted Him.
On May 9, 1985 I went to my friend’s house for lunch and asked her about a book she had been reading that told about the end times; she went to go get it and came back with her husband. He said I could borrow his grandmother’s book, but he wanted me to know it was a story about what the Bible says, but that it was a story, not actual events. He then began to quote Scripture verses to me. Whoa! I was afraid, I wanted to run away; I literally considered grabbing my babies and running out the door! Then it came to me that what he was telling was from the Bible, I could certainly listen to the Bible.
That day I found the secret! Romans16:25-27 says, “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.
Yes, I found the secret of knowing I could go to heaven…through the Bible – the obedience of faith – through Jesus Christ. All the right things I knew before were still right, but I never connected them. Though I knew that Jesus was the Savior, I wasn’t trusting in what He did on the cross to get me to heaven, I was still trying to do “things.” Then I saw in the Bible that God wants us to know that we have eternal life. 1John 5:13 “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
Yippee!!! I found the secret… “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
So the secret was knowing I could have the assurance of heaven as my home by trusting in Jesus; realizing that the payment that God requires for our sins was paid for by the shed blood of Jesus at Calvary. Leviticus 17:11 says, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.”
Hebrews 10:10-12 says, “…By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;" On the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished! The job of paying for our sin debt is done!
In the Secret Garden, the girl had to find a key before she could enter the garden…she knew it existed, because she found the gate, but without the key she was not able to get in. In Revelation 3:7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;” (that is Jesus) Jesus is the One that has the key…he opens the door to the Garden, the Secret Garden – the place of being in the presence of the God.
The day I was saved, I received the key so that the door to heaven would be opened to me and no man could close it…and only Jesus could open the pearly gates. “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
So, what is the final outcome?
I recall that just before I left my friend’s house she asked if I was going to tell my husband…I replied of course, I want my husband to go to heaven with me. Then when I got home, something miraculous (to me) happened. I received a call from Nana. Remember that she was dying of cancer – she died July 19, 1985, and this was May 9. When I answered the phone, Nana told me that she had been feeling pretty good that day and wanted me to know that she went shopping and bought me a Bible! Can you believe that? How could she have known? She didn’t, but God knew.
When my husband came home from work and after the kids went to bed I went in to his office and told him, “Honey, I did something today.” He put down his pencil and turned around and had that Ricky Ricardo look on his face when asked “What?” Then I proceeded to tell him that I had trusted Christ as my Savior. For 3 weeks I tried to witness to him and he was curious, he never got angry with me, but I couldn’t get him to understand the difference between believing in his head and trusting in his heart. I finally had my friend and her husband over for dinner and on June 1, my husband trusted Christ as his Savior! He led us to North Valley Baptist Church where we stayed for 15 years until God called my husband to Redwood Baptist Church in 2000.
The Secret Garden? In the book everybody was happiest when it was no longer a secret.
Christian, we have access to the Garden of prayer everyday 24/7.
Ladies, today we have learned of the Secret Garden. We have seen the gates of pearl, we have been offered the key that will unlock the gate, the question I have for you is will you take it? Will you ask Jesus into your heart and trust in Him as your only source for salvation? Will you spend time in the Garden of Prayer where there is joy and gladness and thanksgiving and the voice of melody? (singing - do you have a song in your heart?) I pray that if you have not already done so, that today you will...if you do, please let me know; I am praying for you.
Have a wonderful day!