Doris Swartz Pt. 1 – How I Traded Fear For Peace

 

HOW I TRADED FEAR FOR PEACE

I was born into a hard working farm family in the early 1930’s.  My parents took my sister and me to church until a new baby was born into the family.  I was six years old when she came.  After that, we rarely went to church.

My parents were religious, moral, decent people.  But that is a far cry from being Christian.  When my Mom was deeply concerned about some circumstance in her life, she would gather us girls about her on the bed, and she would read the Bible to us.  That was about the only time the Bible was taught in our home by my parents.

I appreciate one thing my Dad did though:  he would turn on the radio on Sunday, (maybe not every Sunday) and we heard Bible preaching.  My parents let us go to Daily Vacation Bible School, but that wasn’t every year. I don’t remember much of what I was taught there, if I was taught the Gospel message, it didn’t penetrate my understanding.

Even though there was not much Bible teaching in our home, my parents did their best to teach us to be diligent workers, to be honest, truthful, and also to fear God.  Somehow, I knew about Jesus and that there was a God. I knew that He died on the cross for us.  I also knew that there was a heaven and a hell.  I knew that some people were not ready to meet God, and that I was one of them.  I also knew that Jesus would come someday, and that it could happen at any time.

My parents did not have much Bible understanding – they probably were not taught it, though my Dad’s parents were somewhat religious.  I don’t know about my Mom’s parents.  I know now that being religious is not the same as having put one’s hope in Jesus for salvation, but back at that time, I thought a person had to be good and do good things in order to be saved. There were times I wondered, “Why did Jesus have to die on the cross when we had to be good in order to go to heaven”?

I was about eight when the Jews began to migrate back into their homeland.  My Mom said that soon the end of the world would come. When she told me this, I knew I was not ready for Jesus to come back.  I knew that I was a sinner, and that I would go to hell.  That caused great anguish of soul for me.  Many nights, before going to sleep, I would pray, “Jesus, please don’t come back tonight”.

About this time, when I was somewhere between 6 and 8 years old, I had a dream.  In my dream, I was swinging on a tire swing hung from a tree in the orchard that was north of our house.  I looked toward the east, and there was Jesus coming across the field towards me.  He was coming to take me to heaven.  I said to him that I hadn’t done anything; meaning that I had not done anything to make me ready for heaven.   In my dream, Jesus said to me, “You don’t have to”.

I didn’t know it at that time, but that is the truth.  I didn’t have to do any good thing to be ready for Jesus to take me to heaven, because Jesus did it for me.  He paid for all my sins when he gave His blood as He died on the cross, taking all of my punishment for all the sins I have and will yet commit.  I would only have to put my trust in Him.

I remember one night, about this same time, I came downstairs from my attic bedroom.  I wanted my Mom to help me get saved.  She knew what I wanted, but did not know how to help me.

Some years passed.  I got married at the age of 17, and I was still burdened about my lost condition.  Sometimes I would cry to my husband about it. One time he told me that he was going to hell.

He wasn’t saved either.  That fear of not being saved never left me.  Fear is an awful thing to live with.

On one occasion, my husband and I went to a family reunion.  There was a missionary there (a third cousin), who had gone to Africa.  He was the speaker at that gathering.  He preached a very convicting message about salvation.  But, I still didn’t know how to get saved.  I still thought I had to be good – which I knew I wasn’t.  I remember going to bed at night and not being able to sleep well.

Three little girls were born to our family, our first one lived only 24 hours. Still both my husband and I were in our lost condition.  I remember one day as I was running to the mailbox at the roadway, a chilling thought came to me, if I don’t get saved, all my descendants will go to hell.

God has a way of working things out for His glory and our good.

A country church, about 20 miles away, had some money designated for missions.  There was a man in that church who thought it would be good to start a church in Wichita, Kansas with that money.  The plan was that after the church was established, the membership would be missions minded, and eventually the amount of money used to build the new church would be given to missions.  That was a good plan.

So the piece of property was bought, and the work began.  First, the men had to prepare the ground for the building.  Then, my Dad was contacted to help because he had some heavy equipment.  He told them about his daughter that lived near there. One of the men responsible for starting the new church visited me and invited us to come to their new church.  I don’t remember my response, but I think I didn’t take the invitation very seriously.

Later, after the church was built, they called a young man to serve as pastor.  This new church was a Bible church, there was no denominational affiliation.  One evening the young pastor and his wife came to call on us and invited us to come to church.

We promised that we would come the next Sunday.  But, the next Sunday our two little girls had whooping cough.  We didn’t go to church.  It was about six weeks later that I saw the pastor’s wife in the grocery store.  I told her that we still planned to come to church.  What I didn’t know was that during these weeks, the people of that church were fervently praying for us, and for our salvation.

Finally, the day came that I actually went to that little church, taking my 3 year old daughter with me.  My husband stayed at home with the other little girl who was only about a year old.  I think it was the second Sunday that I went to the church that I was so convicted of my need that I cried. One of the hymns sung was, “T’is so Sweet to Trust in Jesus”.  I thought to my self, “Yes, it would be sweet to trust in Jesus”.  After church, as I was leaving, the pastor’s wife met me and wanted to talk to me.  She understood what my need was without my telling her.  I didn’t want to talk to her, I gave the excuse that I needed to get my little girl home.

After lunch that day, my husband decided to take a hog to the market. That was so unlike him to do such a thing on Sunday.  I had one fear that if I made this decision to become a Christian, my husband would be so displeased that he would leave me.

After the little girls had been put to bed for their afternoon nap, I made my choice. . . I knew I was a sinner, I had to be saved.  I knelt beside my bed and prayed.  I still didn’t know how to get saved, but I surrendered my heart to God for salvation.  I prayed the only thing I knew.  I asked the Lord to make me His vessel.  I got up from my knees, and picked up my Bible, one that my husband had given me as a gift on our first wedding anniversary.  I turned to the concordance in the back of the Bible and looked up the word, “salvation”.  I found that salvation is of the Lord.  I thought that maybe I was saved, but wasn’t certain.  I still don’t know for sure that I was saved at that time.

Very soon after that I learned that there is only one way to be saved from the punishment we deserve for having sinned. Salvation comes only when one puts all of his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ who paid the penalty for our sin when He shed His blood, and died on the cross.

I Corinthians 15:3, 4; “. . . how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”  

Whether I was saved at that time or not, God knows, but I do know this. The Lord took me at my word, that I wanted to be His vessel, and led me to understand the way of salvation in the days that followed.

The next Sunday our little family went to church.  I told the pastor’s wife what I had done, about my uncertainty about my salvation, and about what I had found in the Scriptures.  She said that she believed that I really was saved.  On that day the pastor and his wife invited our little family to come to their house for dinner on the following Friday.  I was delighted for us to accept that invitation, I had many questions that needed answers.

During that week many changes happened in my life.  The next day after that prayer of surrender, I felt that my world was like an oasis after having been in the desert.  My mouth got cleaned up.  No more minced oaths, no foul language of any kind.  My radio became “sanctified”, no more soap operas, just preaching and Christian music.

Through the preaching which I heard on the radio, many of my questions were answered.  But one question was heavy on my mind, and when we were at dinner at the pastor’s home I asked, “Now that I am saved, can I lose my salvation”?  I wanted to know if I had to work to keep my salvation by doing good deeds, or could I work for Jesus just to please Him. The answer was in the form of a parable.  I was told that when I was saved, the heavenly Father was now my Father.

God has chosen that analogy of His relationship with His children.  A man who is the father of a child, can disown the child, abandon him, or whatever, but he can never deny the fact that he is still that child’s father. That fact of fatherhood cannot be changed.  Since God is my Father now, He will always be my father.

The truth that God will always be the Father of those who have trusted Jesus for their salvation, is a good analogy.  However, I would rather depend on the Scriptures.  These especially:

Romans 6:23; “. . . the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Eternal life is life that endures forever.  If I have eternal life, I can not lose it since it is eternal.  If I could lose it, then obviously I never had it.

Here is another passage that showed me that our salvation is an eternal one:

I John 5:11,12;  “And this is the record that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son [Jesus Christ]. He that hath the Son hath life: and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” 

If you have Jesus, you have eternal life.  If you don’t have eternal life it is because you do not have Jesus.

I have been a joyfully born-again Christian going on sixty years now.  It has been so wonderful to be free of that awful fear that plagued me all those early years.  The peace and joy that Jesus has given me has been priceless.

Dear reader, do you have this same joy and confidence?  It can be yours, too.

Respectively,

Doris Swartz
©2013 Mark Davis

Related Articles:

A Letter To A Young “Bride-To-Be”

Doris Swartz Pt. 2 – How God Led Me To Work With Children

Suggested Reading:

If You’re Dead – Now What?

How Many Ways Are There To Get To Heaven?

Larry Bronsing – My Journey

PREAMBLE:

I wrote my testimony printed below for the First Baptist Church of Frederic Michigan News Letter back in 1973.  The Pastor there, Brother Robert Taylor, is my personal hero. My convictions were set in concrete under his ministry through preaching, teaching and by his example. After forty years he still has a vital part in my Christian growth and, knowing that, the KJV Bible is God’s final authority for EVERYTHING, those convictions have seen me through to my 72 years of life.

Why do I tell you this?  Because it is vital that Christians recognize Godly friends that God sends their way.  I wish I could get every new-born believer into a solid KJV believing, teaching and preaching church whose pastor is tender-hearted with the wisdom of God, as Pastor Taylor’s church was.

Right after I was saved, I was so on fire and could immediately quote a great many Bible verses, but as a new-born 33-year-old baby, I needed lots of “spiritual milk” which Pastor Taylor provided so well.

A thought . . . Why does someone study to be a surgeon, and he gets respect for that, but God’s man, who has put in as much or more in studying theology, is disrespected by every “on-fire”, “get-out-of-my-way”, “I know what’s happening”, new-born Christian?  Because they, like me, get blinded by their flesh.

The following letter proves how spiritually immature I was.  I suppose Pastor Taylor never corrected anything I wrote because he had TOTAL FAITH in the Holy Spirit to do His job.

Pastor Taylor taught me how to pray publicly; how to win souls; its importance and how a pastor should conduct himself. He gave me opportunities to preach when I was actually kind of like Don Knots while thinking myself to be a Spurgeon (I told you I was spiritually stupid).

One day in heaven I will see Pastor Taylor again, and I look forward to telling him how much I love him.  BUT, I ROB HIM because I never became the soul winner, teacher and preacher that I should have.

Have you ever thought about that?  “What if I would have been the man God wanted me to be; then Pastor Taylor would have received extra rewards because of my faithfulness to the Saviour.”

I grew into an immature, spiritual cry-baby, feeling sorry for myself and, after I spent years struggling to get back spiritually where I was in Frederic, God moved me into Bethany Baptist Church in Clawson, Michigan.

Pastor Howe was not even close to being a “Pastor” when he took the pastor-ship because no one else would.  That was when I started attending. I have a great respect for Church authority and never looked at Pastor Howe as anything but God’s chosen vessel as the pastor of His Church, Bethany Baptist Church, in Clawson, Michigan.  Pastor Howe, most likely, was glad I was there, but I got more than he did.  He is the perfect example of how God can use a man whose heart is soft and has strong convictions.  He was/became another “Pastor Taylor”.  Anyone could talk with Pastor Howe and he would never get uppity if they disagreed with him. He was another one who trusted God’s Holy Ghost for the results.

Thank you, God, for giving Your grace and mercy to Pastor Taylor, Howie and me.

TESTIMONY:

The following is very poor writing and the theology is shaky if you don’t read between the lines and take it in context.  I have a blog where anyone can read in detail what I have always believed about salvation and baptism: donoterr.wordpress.com.  If you struggle through this letter, I hope you will at least see the truth of God working in an ugly me and the redeeming power of Jesus, but, again, keep in mind I was not long saved when I wrote it.

This is what I wrote 33 years ago:

Dear reader:

I would like to tell you a little of my past life.  I am doing this because I know there is someone reading this who can identify with what I am going to write.  God is going to speak to you through this poorly written, but love sent letter.

It is not that I was so bad, although I did almost everything: having hitchhiked across the states, been in a few jails, and have taken a few pills.  I could tell joke upon joke with a very vivid imagination for colorful language, and after many years of training I could drink with the best.

Many times I would have a lonesomeness deep inside.  I wouldn’t compare it with anything.  I would just say –  “there has to be something more”.  I don’t want to be on my death-bed, an old man, look back and say- “It was for nothing”, so I would try another experience.  Sometime the experience I tried was God.

I read a lot and one thing I knew Jesus wanted was bold unashamed men: men to stand and fight for Him.  I was also aware that Jesus said, ”be hot or be cold but do not be lukewarm or I will spew you out of my mouth,” ( Revelation 3:15,16) so I would get hot.  I would stop drinking and swearing, and this and that.  Then for a short time I would witness and praise God.  I really would feel great.  Then my old self would gradually sneak back a little at a time and there I would be right back to my sinfully selfish self.

As it says in the Bible, “Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death,” (Romans 7:24)   you see, I had really never let Jesus into my life.

What I was doing was working to please God or trying to win His favor.  Oh I wanted Jesus; I knew what I had read, how Jesus changes lives and gives life.  I wanted this, but I wanted Jesus on my terms.  I wanted to buy Jesus instead of Him buying me, although at the time I really didn’t understand that I had never really let Jesus into my own heart.

Time and time again I would tell people about the power of Jesus: how that if they asked Jesus into their lives and repent of their sin, Jesus would cleanse them and be with them.  They would have a new life, a life filled with power and excitement, love, joy, and peace.  How could anyone refuse?  But no one really paid much attention; they had heard it from me many times before.   In a week or two I would be my old self — again.

Then there came a time in my life when I knew I was powerless to stop drinking and carrying on.  I was depressed; I had let Jesus down so many times.  I begged God for forgiveness – told Him I was a failure and deserved Hell.  Then I said, “Jesus, I will never stop drinking again, even if I feel the urge to stop.  I will continue to drink for I am powerless to stop, but I will never stop telling people about You.”

I was aware that Jesus wanted me and it took years for me to realize it, but it could have taken only ten seconds if I would have only gotten me out of the way and then I would have finally understood and believed God.

Soon after I made this decision, I was miraculously shown what I needed to do through the Scriptural teaching on baptism.  I had been baptized as an infant, but now I knew what I was doing, I could speak for myself.

I wish space would permit me to write some of the miracles of God that changed my life.  I knew that I must surrender my life completely to the Lord because the ordinance of baptism is a picture and a type of death, burial and resurrection.  It is a picture of the new birth which is necessary to become a child of God (John 3:3).  After baptism, I felt a power; I knew I would walk with Jesus for an eternity.

[I must add this:  Baptism doesn’t save, faith in Christ alone saves. I have a post on my blog that explains what I believed then and now.  Also, certain words that I call “magic words” don’t save either — It is a heart thing. Romans 10:10, lpb added 2013]

Well, am I still drinking?  No! Jesus took away that desire.  I would have to force myself and I am not going to do that.  Am I saying I have no temptations and everything is down hill?  No, I am still like everyone else living in a world controlled by Satan, but now I have Jesus and, though some sins cause me to stumble, I really never fall; you see, Jesus catches me on the way down and helps me back to my feet.”

©2013 Mark Davis

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