For SO long I searched for Truth in ALL the wrong places

This note of testimoney from Patricia Johnson is taken from a personal note to a friend.

Dear Eric,

My brother,
You already know
from Dinah Moe
and my crack about coke...
along with Tarot,
and that Tibetan bloke,
(etc., etc.)
we've come through a lot of the same STUFF!
By the wonderful grace of God, I might add.

But, dear eric, my testimony cannot hold a candle to
yours. :::sigh::: My life has not been so dramatic.
My story is this: For SO long I searched for Truth
in ALL the wrong places. And I was, through it all,
churched.

My father was in the Navy, so we traveled a bit. I
spent some of my formative years in Japan, where I
was exposed to strange gods. The experience left a
definite impression on me, even though I was but a
"tourist". I did not realize the impact of the
experience until my high school years, when I drifted
into Eastern religions and other studies, such as
astrology and the black arts. Such peculiar interests
were perceived as cool by my peers. My oldest sister
and her husband exerted a passive influence, having
been married in a Buddhist temple after their tour
through India, complements of the Peace Corps. This
is all 60's stuff, you see "G".

Even though I grew up in the church, I didn't really
HEAR the Gospel until our Methodist church had a lay
witness weekend sometime during my senior year, I
believe it was. Folks came from far and wide to share
what the Lord had done in their lives. They had a
team that came to minister to youth. I got touched
by God in a way that was simply overwhelming. BUT,
after this experience, there was no teaching to follow
it up. I continued in my studies of the occult and
Buddhism. I was hungry for spiritual reality, and I
perceived that there was "real stuff" in those things.
I certainly wasn't seeing it in the church, so my
inclination was to look elsewhere for IT.

Off to college ...University of the South at Sewanee....
My first time away from home for any length of time.
Yes, enter onto the scene alcohol and drugs and wild
things that I can't remember doing ....... I think
I even preached a sermon in the quad one night, under
the influence of distilled spirits. Oh, me. But I
sang in the choir, too, and I studied Eastern religions
legitimately (i.e., for CREDIT). Got my mantra my
freshman year. Thought about going to California to
join up with a socialist organization.....
(Now I watch Rush Limbaugh...Go figure.)

Between freshman and sophomore year, the university
placed me on a year's suspension because of my grades.
It was a good year in the Lord. I got a job at a
local newspaper, proof-reading. I had access to their
subscription list, and "came across" the name of a
Catholic priest in Elkhorn, Nebraska. I was seeking,
you see, and I figured a guy living in an abbey
should have the inside scoop. We wrote back and
forth a few years, then he died; but that was after
I graduated from college with a degree in psychology.
(Now I have a master's degree: another miracle,
believe me.)

I got married right out of Sewanee. My Methodist
pastor counseled us beforehand, but it was only a
formality. All I knew then was that I wanted to get
married. Being in love is like that, you know. It
is a kind of blindness. But God is good in all things,
and at all times. It took me a while to learn that
one. I continued seeking the Lord; my spouse wasn't
interested. Still isn't. That's the sad part. The
glad part is that God is able to keep us, and He gives
us the circumstances we need in order to cause us to
draw out of that deep well of Christ those things in
Him that we need in order to conform more and more
closely to that Christlikeness we will all bear one Day.
I needed patience; God made me wait. I needed
temperance; God gave me children. I need to
demonstrate His kind of love; He keeps my spouse in
the holding tank ......

...And I need to be about my Father's business. I
need to encourage His life in others. It is a real
burden of mine. And who would have thought that I
would end up in an electronic community for that one?
I am assured that God has put us all here together for
some purpose.

I love to watch the Father at work, although His work
often upsets my little applecart of a life. But that's
part of growing up in Him. And you know, there is
always more growing to be done. In that way, we are
all the same. God's way of dealing with us is much the
same as ours in raising our own children. We do not
deal with them strictly by virtue of their biological
years. We train them and discipline them with their
potential in mind. Yet we take them where they are
and go from there. God individualizes in His dealings
with us. It took me many rough years to understand
that I cannot expect everyone else to verify what the
Lord is teaching me. I now know that is true; but as
you go on in Him, you get to the point where your
perceptions about certain things are not like most
folks' perceptions. You start to feel insecure with
some things you are seeing in the Word. You want
someone to tell you "You are not crazy!" God has been
kind enough to send people into my life to affirm me
when I most needed it. Now, in this stage of my life,
I tend to feel that silence is golden....I just need to
trust the Lord. But I have trouble doing that. I hate
loneliness, and I want to know that I am understanding
things as they really are in the Kingdom. Yet, when I
succumb to the temptation of erasing the loneliness in
my life, I end up in a more miserable state because of
having reached out and fallen flat on my face.

During my years just prior to the advent of my two
children, God put me away in a solitary place. I
submitted to it rather easily, because I felt it was
for a season. My husband is not a Christian, and at
the time, I thought the solitary confinement was God's
way of preventing me from being an affront to my
husband. Also, church activities had been sapping me
of all my free time, and those activities were just
that: ACT-ivities.....motion, commotion; no life. For
at least two years, I was in a very private sort of
fellowship with Jesus. I began to forget how
barren it had been out there in the church. When the
Lord finally let me out of solitary, I rushed into a
church expecting to find everyone in a similar mode.
Ah, gee! Was I disillusioned? Where was the church
if I couldn't find it in a church building, during a
church service, in the fellowship hall? So, I lowered
my expectations, and made some friends. I shared as
much as I felt I could, and then some perhaps. I
wanted everyone to know what a glorious life they could
have. There weren't many takers. I did come out of
those years with some relationships that continue today,
but the relationships have metamorphosed into something
other than what they were before. I have changed, for
sure. And I think they have changed, too.
We all are changing....it goes on and on until the end.
And sometimes we meet up with someone who's been down
the same path we just got off of, and that is a glorious
time. THAT is what I call fellowship, sharing where
the Lord has taken you, and recognizing that the Lord
has taken someone else there, too. It is a rejoicing
in Him, and in His work within us and without us. :-)
But mostly, in the church, we rub shoulders with folks
who don't even know there is a path to walk here and
now. They are too forward-looking, hoping for the
bliss of heaven, and they miss the magic underfoot.

I am still in my heart of hearts looking for the
perfect church. I know that in Jesus it is possible.
I think that Jesus expects us to look for that, else
He would not have left us with the command to love as
He loves, and to go and make disciples of all nations.
But His word also tells us that we are just vessels of
clay, containers of His life, bearers of His light....
clay! and we break. In brokenness, the light shoots
out this chink, the life oozes from that crack. Shall
I then simply content myself with these leakings, and
give up the hopeless notion that I can bear His life
and share His love and still remain intact in my outer
shell? Hmmm... What did He tell us? Unless a grain
of wheat fall to the earth and die, it remains by
itself alone; but if it dies, it produces many others
and yields a rich harvest. (John 12:24)