I had survived three nervous breakdowns. After that, I felt that no matter what came along, I could handle it. So why did I need God in my life?
My life had been troubled and hard. When I was 18, I married a man who had six children from a previous marriage. At the mother’s request, we agreed to take the children, but it proved the beginning of a seesaw struggle.
Repeatedly she reclaimed the children only to bring them back again. I loved them as my own, and years of this back and forth upheaval caused my nervous breakdowns.
But when my friend Shannon invited me to a Bible study 11 years ago, that period of our lives was over. Joe’s children had grown up, we had four children of our own, and I was pregnant with our youngest. I was ready to enjoy life with my family.
So why would I want to “get religious”? I had managed to survive the rough periods without God. Whatever would come along, I’d handle it the best I could.
But I had to admit, Shannon’s life did attract me. From the start, I realized this new family in the neighborhood was different from any other I’d known. Shannon and her husband were dedicated to each other and to their children. Their two boys got into trouble just like any other kids, but when they were reprimanded, they accepted it and apologized.
I knew Shannon was a Christian, but she never tried to push anything on me. When she invited me to join a Bible study for women who weren’t familiar with the Bible, I didn’t want to turn her down, but I just wasn’t interested.
“Shannon,” I said, “I have no desire to become a Christian. It’s not that I don’t like the way you are. It’s just that it’s not for me.”
“Roma, I won’t try to change you,” she said. “I won’t put any pressure on you. I just want you to learn what this Book says.
“If you’re not going to be a Christian, you ought to know what it is that you’re rejecting,” she said. “I want you to know what this is all about so you can make an intelligent decision.”
I thought to myself, She’s right. I really don’t know what’s in the Bible, except for my preconceived, jumbled ideas.
Finally, I decided to go, mostly out of friendship to Shannon. And true to her promise, she never tried to change me. She just accepted me.
She bought identical Bibles for the eight women in our group. By telling us to turn to a certain page, she protected us from the embarrassment of fumbling around, a predicament common to unbelievers and new Christians.
We started our study in John. Soon after we started, I began to notice that whatever we had read on Tuesday night seemed to relate to my experiences throughout the week.
After six months of going through the New Testament chapter by chapter, I began to realize that the Bible wasn’t talking about someone else’s sins, but my own. Christ died for me, not just for the people who lived 2,000 years ago. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
As I studied the Bible, I realized I needed to accept Christ as my Savior from sin. I learned that “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved” (Rom. 10:9).
So I sat in my living room and prayed. I asked God to forgive me for my sins and acknowledged that I wanted Christ to come into my life as my Savior.
Not long after I’d prayed, God showed me how wrong I had been in concluding I could handle anything. Joe and I were both heavy smokers, and he had been having some lung problems. A few days earlier, the doctor had insisted he quit smoking. I knew Joe couldn’t quit if I didn’t. And I realized I couldn’t without God’s help.
“Lord,” I prayed, “I really want to quit smoking. I want You to help me by taking away my desire for cigarettes.” I knew that if the desire remained, I wouldn’t be able to quit.
God answered my prayer immediately. He took away all desire for smoking. I was able to throw out all the cartons I had in the house, and I’ve never smoked since.
That was the beginning of learning to trust God with my life.
Roma Coppernoll as told to Donna Brown
The ability to manage can soon wear thin. But Christ freely offers new life to all who trust in Him as Savior.