From Rebellion To Surrender

God has given a unique story to all of His children. I was led to write my story viewing it from His perspecitive and point of view. It is a testimony of my personal, saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and my heart knowledge of His attributes, His character and His promises. It is a story of prideful rebellion against God ... a story of total and unconditional surrender to God. It is a testament to God’s sovereignty, love, faithfulness, mercy and grace.

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I, the God of all creation ... all knowing, ever present and all powerful ... would design a perfect and unique plan and purpose for her life before she was born.

Early in her life, she would believe the love and acceptance shown to her by her parents was due to her being a "good" little girl. As she would grow older, she would strive for love and acceptance from others. It would grieve Me she would not know of My unconditional love and acceptance of her.

Though she would not know Me as a God of love, there would be a time when she would sense I was blessing her life ... protecting, preserving and providing for her. Full of pride, she would see My blessings as a reward for her hard work, honesty, good judgment and respectability. She would see all the positive things in her life as a result of her goodness ... of her achievements. Her prideful heart would take her into bondage.

I would intersect her young life with that of a godly, young man ... a man who would love and accept her unconditionally. She would not see My providential hand in their meeting nor on their marriage two years later while he was serving in the US Armed Forces. Neither would she see My faithfulness in protecting him while he served his country in a time of war, protecting her in his absence and bringing him home safely.

Though I would be faithful to prompt her of the need for a Savior, she would see herself as being too good to spend eternity in hell ... not as the sinner for which My Son died. In her pride, she would choose to depend on her goodness ... she would continue to deny Him.

As she would hear My Word, her pride and self-dependence would lessen but fear I would call her to the mission field in Africa would keep her from surrendering her life to My Son. I would intersect her life with that of a missionary whose statement would impact her life for eternity. His statement would be ... "God would not ask us to do anything without first preparing our hearts to do what He asks us to do." I would use those words to free her from the bondage of fear. She would be free to trust in My Son and accept My gift of salvation.

Though she would choose to place her dependence on My Son for eternal life, in her earthly life she would continue in self-dependency and self-sufficiency. She would not know to rest in My sovereignty, My Love, My all knowing, ever present and all powerful character.

In my perfect timing, I would lead her to Exchanged Life Ministries Grace Life Conferences whose message would be grounded in My Word, Galatians 2:20. "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me." Though she would hear the message many times, she would struggle to believe this truth. Her reasoning of Galations 2:20 would fail her.

During an Intensive Advanced Training Class at Exchanged Life Ministries, My Spirit would reveal to her the life changing truth of Galatians 2:20. By faith, she would choose to believe this truth. She would be free to live out the fullness of her salvation with Christ as her life ... Him in her and she in Him. My Son would be her life.

After many years of marriage, I would take her husband home to spend eternity with Me. Through this trial, she would embrace brokenness knowing I would give her a deeper and closer relationship with Me. She would experience the grace, peace, joy and contentment of daily surrender to my perfect will, my perfect way and my perfect timing. My sovereignty, My unchanging character, My promises and My love for her would be her anchor. She would seek and I would guide and direct her in My perfect plan and purpose for her life as a widow. She would be thankful for the many blessings of widowhood.

Shirley is a dear friend and champion of Exchanged Life Ministries. She met Howard Long her husband of 45 years at the age of eighteen. They were married two years later at Fort Gordon, Georgia while Howard was serving in the U.S. Army. Howard and Shirley’s love and support of Exchanged Life Ministries spans several decades. They have brought countless newcomers to Grace Life Conferences through the years. Shirley has continued this tradition even after Howard’s passing. In the summer of 2009 while attending Grace Life Advanced Training, Shirley came to know Christ as her life. She currently resides in Centennial, Colorado.