He Held Me in His Hands – Annette
When I was 8 or 9 my aunt took me to a revival meeting. I don’t remember anything about it except the end, and I remember it just as if it was yesterday. The preacher said, “Close your eyes and picture a candle in an open window. A gentle breeze causes the flame to flicker. Woosh! A strong wind blew the flame out. Now picture Jesus knocking on the door of your heart. He wants you to open the door so He can come in and take away your sins. Will you open the door? Jesus will only stand outside your heart’s door for so long – then like the candle’s flame, He will be gone. If you want Jesus in your heart, come down the aisle now so we can talk about it.”
I almost ran down the aisle.
I wanted Jesus to take away my sins. I knew I had many sins and I wanted Jesus to take them away. I was baptized, but that was all that happened. The pastor came to our house but my mom and stepfather both worked in a factory so there was no time for church. My mom divorced my biological dad when I was a baby – he took off for Hollywood and an acting career – so until I was old enough to care for myself, I lived with many different people.
As a teenager, I was headstrong, selfish, + stubborn. I certainly didn’t act like someone Christ had redeemed. I got married right out of high school and a year later we had a son, then 4 years later we had a daughter.
We went to church. I tried to live the Christian life – be a good mother and wife – but my husband and I fought all the time. After our children married, I filed for divorce. I closed my Bible. Where had God been as I watched my mother die from cancer + I wanted her to be saved? She wouldn’t even talk about Jesus. Why did God let my son marry a girl who was in a cult?
I later met and fell in love (or lust) with Dan – and unbelieving catholic! We moved to Naples in 1997 – loved playing golf together and with friends until 2001 when Dan was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. He was in the hospital for 2 months. During that time, a friend from North Naples Baptist Church sent her pastor up to see Dan. I happened to be there and heard the pastor ask, “Dan, if you die tonight, and it looks like you could, would you go to heaven?” Dan shrugged his shoulders. He didn’t know. Pastor said, “You can know, just tell Jesus you are sorry for the sins you’ve committed and tell Him you want Him to be your Savior and Lord. Do you want to pray and ask Him into your heart and life?” Dan said yes and he repeated the words the pastor prayed.
Dan went into remission for 6 months and then relapsed. All the time he was in remission I was his cheerleader but didn’t say anything about the prayer to God. We went to a bible study at my friend’s house a couple of times and had some discussions about God – that was about the extent of it.
One night before leaving the hospital, I asked him, “Dan, did you really mean it when you prayed and asked Jesus to be your Savior?” He answered yes, I kissed him good night, and left. The next morning I got a phone call to come to the hospital. Dan had a code blue…
We never spoke again after he told me that he meant it when he asked Jesus into his heart.
God is so, so good, all the time!
I started going to church with my friend and her husband and prayed many many times asking God’s forgiveness, for Jesus to truly be my Savior and the Lord of my life.
When Dan was alive we played golf, sometimes twice a day. After he died, Sunday afternoon was really hard. My friends all played in the shotgun at 11:00 when I was in church. I’d go home and look out the sliding glass door and see them playing, until one day I went down Orange Blossom and saw the sign and time for church. If I went to First Naples I could do both! So that is what I did. God kept working in my heart, so I went forward and joined the church, started going to the Wednesday Women’s Group. I also helped make the coffee on Tuesday mornings, so I got to hear Janet Wicker teach both times every week.The lord just kept drawing me closer + closer to Him. I went to John McGillicuddy’s group – where once again God was working in my heart + mind to study and read His Word.
I remember back when I was a child hearing someone say the communists will take the Bibles away when they get in control (thank God that hasn’t happened) but that encouraged me to memorize verses that spoke to my heart.
It is not easy, but so worth it.
In Oct 2015, God moved me back to Indiana. In less than a month, I sold my place, bought a different one in Indiana, and was living there. God moved me back to be with my family. My 26 year old grandson died unexpectedly in January 2016. Ben knew Jesus as his Savior and I know I am going to be in heaven with him.
In 2019, my son-in-law called me saying he and my daughter would pay for half a place if I wanted to move back to Florida. I prayed about it (not too long) and said yes. They found the place for me and I am thankful to be back here. The weather is a plus – but First Naples is home. Shining a legacy of the light of Jesus for all to see.
I am thankful God brought me back here. I am so thankful for the teaching and preaching, love, and witness of Christ, my Lord! What a privilege to welcome people who come every Sunday, desiring more and more of Jesus, and to see the children at Awana – oh may they each one come to Jesus as their Savior and Lord. God is so, so good! Shannon and Shelly are such a blessing as they teach us in Women’s Group and then to hear how God is working as we share during table time. It has been such a privilege to serve at Food Distributions with St. Matthew’s House and pray with people in their cars as they wait to get food. God has blessed me as I go home to remember those He brings to mind.
As I look back over these 80 years, it is not a pretty picture.
I now believe when I went forward as a child that God + Jesus held me in their hands all those years, keeping me secure in them (John 10:27-29).
I didn’t follow or walk in His way then, but these last 20 years He has graciously drawn me to Him, to love, to grow, to encourage, and tell everyone that will let me about my amazing, wonderful savior and lord, Jesus Christ.
Oh and by the way, my daughter in law is no longer in that cult! Oh me of little faith!
And, last year when I went with the church to Israel, I was re-baptized in the Jordan River.
God is SO GOOD! ALL the Time!