“What are you going to do in the time of trouble now that you have left the truth and the church!” she cried, her fingers drumming on my desk between us.
Clearly, I could see her fear, her anger, and perhaps a hint of envy. But more than that; using God’s discernment, I saw her troubled and fearful soul. I felt her pain. I knew her insecurity.
My thoughts flashed back, and I watched God unroll my history of leaving the SDA church. To get me to heaven, God had to lead me through hell.
For several months, I was aware of my husband’s serial infidelity. I ignored his verbal and emotional abuse; possibly driven by his guilt. Yet, it was not the time to deal with it.
My beloved daddy was dying a lingering death from pancreatic cancer. My sweet and loving nephew, Jonathan, was a fighting heroically a particular strong form of cancer at St. Jude’s hospital. I had moved into my mom’s and dad’s home to help take care of her. She was frail with diabetes and far sicker than any of us realized. One morning, while daddy was in his frequent hospitalizations, I walked into her bedroom to help her prepare for the day. She was dead. I had to drive to the hospital and tell my dad. He died one month later.
My faith? Depleted. Peace? Impossible. God was there but my eyes were too full of tears to see Him. Yet, I could see my brother, David and his wife, Teresa, as their faith grew and strengthened at St. Jude’s. David hugged me tightly at our parents’ funerals and leaned over to whisper, “Margie, God does not promise to take us out of the “valley of the shadow of death”; He promises to be there with us.”
One dark day, David said, “Margie, read Ephesians. It’s a short book!”
I took my Bible and for the first time in my entire life. I read an entire book of the Bible, sentence by sentence. Previously, I just hunted up Bible verses to prove my own ideas or my own church’s ideas. Stunned. I found in the first two chapters of Ephesians, what I had been taught in the SDA church, is not what God actually says. It knocked me literally to my knees, at the foot of the cross of Jesus. I felt, knew, (words fail) His arms around me. Peace came.
Eagerly, I read more and more. At the same time, I was invited to “church” at my dad’s empty clinic. A wonderful young man, a soon to be ex-SDA who had been reading his Bible, taught us verse by verse, book by book, God’s gospel story. For the first time, I learned what the New Covenant actually was instead of the mumbling I had heard at communion services in the SDA church….and I learned I was at the wrong mountain, Mount Sinai, when I should be at Mount Zion. (see Hebrews 12:18-29 for more information).
My young nephew, Jonathan, testified of his healing and his love and adoration of his best friend, Jesus Christ. My best friend in Virginia shared her testimony with me about Jesus’s Gospel; not the dismal SDA’s “different gospel which is no gospel at all”. (see Galatians for more information!)
As I read my Bible, now duct taped together, I was constantly having to decide, the Bible or EGW? One day at clinic church, I leaned over and asked a former teacher in the nearby Adventist college about this dilemma. He leaned over and whispered, “Read 1919 Bible conference regarding EGW. It’s on-line.” I read it, appalled by how my own church had deceived me.
It was astonishing. Bible verses that I had read many times, now glowed with a golden light of joy. I watched God’s “tender mercies” in my life; vividly showing me His love and His concern and His faithfulness to me.
I knew I was safe in His hand: John 10:27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all[c]; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”.
It was a much better neighborhood.
I knew the Truth. He was my best Friend: John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”.
I looked across my desk at my SDA friend in turmoil. I knew that she and her husband had “picked out their cave to hide from the Sunday Keepers” on my mountain top.
I smiled and said, “Which time of trouble? I have been through many of them.”
“Oh, don’t be flippant,” she responded angrily. “You know what I mean.”
I stood, walked around my desk and took her hands. “My friend, where will I be during the “Time of Trouble”? Out there, on the sidewalk, yelling as loud as I can, “At last, dear God, At last!”
P. S. My Seventh Day Adventist DNA is deep. My great grandfather was the Secy-treasurer of the Alabama-Mississippi Conference. My grandfather was an elder, my father was an elder, and I worked for them for many years. I am a stubborn old lady and God had to work a long time to lead me out of the SDA church. Looking back, I am astonished at His power, His comfort, His sense of humor, His patience, His glory, His wisdom…because, really, it is all about Him. –Margie Littell