Monday, April 17, 2006

EX LDS JEANETTE TELLS US HER STORY

The Everlasting God and Me: A Relationship - by Jeanette Dohse

Even the heart of a child has a tiny empty place that only God can fill. My response to Mormon Sunday School stories of Jesus was to dream of sitting on His lap. It was just so simple. Jesus loved me and I loved Him and what better bespeaks relationship to a child than lap sitting and hugs?!

My childhood dreams of Jesus did not sustain me as a teenager. We prayed "in the name of Jesus" and our Church bore His name but His purpose was uncertain and obscure to me. "Heavenly Father" seemed distant and unreachable. Like many Mormons, I tried to substitute Church for God. Once a month, we "bore our testimonies" in a special "sacrament" meeting, and always the testimonies were of Joseph Smith being a true prophet of God, and the Mormon Church being the one true Church. We gave thanks for our Church leaders, our Sunday School teachers, our Church friends, and our families. The Church was supposed to fill the empty spot in my heart, but it didn't.

After the high school years, I moved to Denver to work. There I met young men who were serving a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Even though I was a fifth generation Mormon, the missionaries gave me the usual lessons presented to potential converts. Perhaps they felt I lacked commitment to the Church, or maybe, since missionaries are not supposed to date, giving me the lessons was their way of having the company of someone their own age. After reading the Book of Mormon, their instructions are to read again Moroni 10:4 and following its exhortation, pray, asking God to give you a testimony that the Book of Mormon is true. Some have even experienced a "burning in the bosom" after praying this prayer and I hoped that that would be my experience also. Even though I prayed fervently and sincerely, I was never to have the burning bosom that would cement my testimony of the cornerstone of the Church--the Book of Mormon, (History of the Church, Vol. 4, p. 461) and therefore the Church itself.

I thought I must not be worthy enough to have this spiritual experience. Or maybe my Heavenly Father didn't love me. Surely there must be some way to gain His favor, to prove to Him that I loved Him and wanted to be a good Church member. Being a Mormon and doing what the Church told me was my assurance that someday I would return to live with Heavenly Father.

To win God's love, I threw myself into church work, spending many hours preparing lessons for the Sunday School and Primary classes that I taught. I also got involved in genealogy, home teaching and my personal research. And for awhile I sang in the choir. But no amount of church work won for me the relationship I desired to have with God. Neither did being faithful at tithing or prayer, temple work, or reading trusted Church "scripture" help. I had been taught to distrust the reliability of the Bible and therefore saw no reason to turn there for instruction, comfort, or any kind of help.

In my middle twenties I became "sophisticated" enough to believe that it wasn't just me that God didn't love, but believed instead that it was really impossible for any of us to touch heaven. God was uninvolved, disinterested in, and untouched by humankind.

Now, instead of blaming myself for lack of relationship with God, I began to suspect that He was less than I had always hoped He was. Perhaps I was just expecting too much from a man who had risen through the ranks to the station of 'God of this world', according to the Mormon Law of Eternal Progression.

In 1978 my world turned around when a Christian friend suggested that I listen to an evangelist on a local radio station. For the first time in my life, I heard people give testimony about GOD; not about their Church nor their earthly human leader, but about GOD. God had repaired marriages, mended broken hearts and healed physical ailments. He gave hope and comfort, strength, direction and provision.

The testifiers in turn served Him as Lord, trusted Him as Saviour and Redeemer, clung to His Word and worshiped Him alone.

These people were talking about a relationship that I had wanted all my life, but with a God that I had never heard of in my 39 years. A God that was ONE GOD, not three individuals. A God that was ETERNAL GOD, not a human man elevated to the station of a god.

How sorry I was that all my life I had broken the First of the Ten Commandments. "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me," God had said. God is God "from everlasting to everlasting" (Psalm 90:2) and He "changeth not" from man to a God (Malachi 3:6 and Romans 1:23). I had striven to have a relationship with a 'God' that doesn't even exist!

But how does one come into relationship with this wonderful, only true God?

Through faith and belief in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, said the evangelist. And for the first time, I heard that Jesus Christ died for my sins so that I could come back into fellowship with the Father. This was quite different from the Mormon "Jesus" who had shed his blood in the Garden of Gethsemane so that I could be resurrected and earn my salvation by works.

I called upon the name of the Lord. "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:13-14)

No longer did I believe that I could be "saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the (Mormon) gospel."

"I do not frustrate the grace of God; for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain."
(Galatians 2:21)

I asked the real Lord Jesus Christ to come into my heart and change me into what He wanted me to be. Bible study revealed to me more of the nature of the One true God and the real purpose of Jesus' shedding His precious blood on the cross. I asked Him to be my Lord, my Saviour and thanked Him for what He had done for me (John 3:36). I found out that He was my Friend, a constant companion.

While on this earth, I can flee to the arms of the Everlasting God in prayer day or night. And I look forward to spending eternity with the Creator that I love and Who loves me.

What a beautiful relationship!

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