by Jeffrey L Girling
I’m starting this page to share with the reader my own personal experiences with the Lord, in hopes it might encourage faith in prayer and faith in the Lord to answer prayer. I also have had my own ups & downs in life, and I don’t want to give the impression that life has been hopping from one mountain top to another mountain top or glory to glory, because I have been through some real tough emotional times in my life, and I have questioned my faith in God several times, but the one thing I could never deny was the fact, that God answered my prayers, which is one reason I believe in God today. (I will be sharing with you some of my ups & downs on this page, but first I’ll start where my first experience with God began.
I had my first experience with the Lord in 1969, when I was only 19 years old. I didn't know one verse in the Bible then, except John 3:16, which a Pastor put in my hand when I was 14 years old, then he said: "If I can't teach you anything else, then at least let me give you this one verse, and I pray you'll never forget it." I didn't!
The thing was: I didn't even know what John 3:16 meant until one day when I was 19 years old. I was all alone in this room, so I was very bored, so I looked for something to read, but all I could find was a 600 page Bible Story Book. I read all the Old Testament stories up to where the New Testament stories began. I then put the book down for the night, because I was tired and it was late.
The next day I skipped the book and grabbed a New Testament Bible from the shelf, and I read the whole New Testament from cover to cover. So you might say I gained a basic history of Bible Stories from Genesis to Revelation within 24 hours. (That is as much as I could comprehend in such a short time.)
There were three main things I comprehended from all that reading. 1. God loves me! 2. He wants me to love him! 3. I was going to hell if I didn't! (Also! I remembered that Pastor and John 3:16) But I was deeply and emotionally touched by the Lord through all those stories. I suppose it was the first time I ever felt loved in my whole life up until then.
So within 24 hours of picking up that book, I was out on the street telling all the teen age boys, that they had to love God or they're going to hell. Please understand! I just had my first experience with God, and I wasn't very well informed how to witness for him. (It was the best I could do at the time!) But it wasn't the end of the story or my life.
The thought of hell devastated me, so I was very concerned about all my loved ones. So I went to everyone telling them about God. But I suppose I was laughed at more than anything else, because I was young with very little knowledge of the Bible, God, especially witnessing. (No experience at all.)
The Thing was: I was raised with a communication handi-cap, because my father never taught me anything, so I was always behind all the other boys in just about everything. Example: I was 9 years old before I ever knew what baseball was. All the other little boys mocked and made fun of me because I didn't know what the bases were. It seemed like I wasn't exposed to most things little boys were exposed to.
I wasn't taught how to defend myself either, so I was bullied and picked on continually as a child. This caused me to isolate myself from all my peers, so my communication skills never developed properly. So I never could socialize or communicate as well as the other boys could even into my teen-age years. I was also misunderstood through all my teen years, because I couldn't express myself well.
My father was very verbally abusive. (Not physically!) I was afraid of my father, and my mother was very passive with a 5th grade education from Georgia, so I didn't get any support or comfort from her either. I spent most of my childhood isolated within myself. My mother divorced my father when I was 14 years old. She married my stepfather when I was 15 years old, who continued to degrade, and abuse me until my 18th birthday, when he dropped me off in the middle of the freeway, and told me never to come back to my mother's house. (I spent the next three years sleeping under one bridge and another all over the country completely separated from society because I didn't trust people, nor did I know how to socialize with them.)
I told you all that, because I wanted the reader to understand how emotional it was for me, when I first learned how much God loved me at 19 years old. I also had dreams back then. One of my dreams was just to be able to communicate like other people could. I still didn't know Christian terminology then, so I didn't say Lord when I prayed. (I said God!) Here was one of my prayers: "God, Please help me to speak and say things like other people do"
Yes! That was my prayer to God then! Today! I'm just finishing writing a book I wrote about Old Testament Prophecies of Jesus Christ, which I just put 10 chapters of that book on my website for all to copy & paste free. My book was created for laymen, and not meant to be scholarly, yet I hope it will be persuasive enough to encourage faith in the Word Of God. You can judge for yourselves how well God answered my prayer by reading my comments on this website, and perhaps my book, if you should ever read it.
I always tell people that I believe in God today, because I have prayed and God has answered my prayers. I would like to first share with the reader one of those prayers, because it was the first prayer I remember God answering for me, and it was very special to me. (It was perhaps one of the most emotional & sincere prayers I ever prayed.) More answered prayers will follow.
It was just a few weeks after I read that 600 page Bible Story Book. I was very concerned about people I loved, because I didn't want them going to hell. So I prayed this prayer to God, with tears running down my cheeks: "God, I will tell anyone about you anytime and anywhere, but there's one person I can't, because she's my ex-fiance who's married to someone else, and she will hang the phone up, if I call her. So God, Will you please just lead her into the hands of someone who will tell her about you."
You See! I was out of town once, and my fiance was bored, so she went out drinking at a New Year's party. (We weren't Christians then.) She had a sexual fling with this other young man she met at the party. She became pregnant, so she broke up with me, because she wanted the biological father to raise her child.
He was a very brilliant and intelligent young man, who was one of the top three boys of our home state of Minnesota to be accepted into West Point Military Academy. But he was disqualified from West Point after she became pregnant and he married her.
But it was just one week after I prayed that prayer to God in her behalf, when this brilliant young man was standing under the stars one night, when the Spirit of God came upon him, as he reasoned there must be a God as he stared into the stars. (Those were his own words.) But he didn't know much about the Bible, but he was attending the University of Minnesota where he shared his experience with Campus Crusaders, and they nourished him with the Word of God. (He then taught his wife, who was my ex-fiance about the Lord.)
I said that prayer in August 1969, but the next year November 1970: I was standing side by side with both of them in church, with all of us praising the Lord together. He and I became best friends, and the two of us witnessed to many young teenagers together, once we both brought buses filled with teenage kids every night to six week long revival meetings happening at Soul's Harbor in Minneapolis, with Evangelist Brian Ruud Speaking.. He was the one who first taught me about the Holy Spirit. (I guess his knowledge of scriptures & the Lord grew faster than mine did, because he was being nourished through Campus Crusaders, and he had a very brilliant mind, while I was generally sleeping under a bridge somewhere, with very poor comunication & comprehension skills. )
Very ironic! I pray for God to lead my ex-finace into the hands of someone who will tell her about God, and then her husband ends up teaching me about the Holy Spirit a year later. It really meant a lot to me when God answered this prayer! I loved her for one thing, but it also proved to me that God was personally interested in me, and I have been a believer in the Lord every since.
The Lord is no respecter of persons, which means he's personally interested in everyone on this planet. He'll answer anyone's prayers. So I encourage anyone to seek the Lord, because he’ll listen and respond to a broken and contrite heart. The Lord puts much value on honesty and sincerity. (He also wants to be praised.) The Bible says that the Lord inhabits the praises of His people, which means He’s in His glory when we praise Him. (He loves it.)
More Answered Prayers
I want to share some more answered prayers, but I will share some life history first to set the stage for the prayers, so the reader can understand the depth and sincerity of my prayers. God has always been there for me, but I haven’t always walked in the Spirit Of God, which I’ll share afterwards.
I want to share my childhood dream with you, so you'll know how important Fatherhood was to me, and how much it meant to me to be a Father. But this story will also lead into my marriage, as my childhood dream became a reality in marriage.
I'll also be sharing things about the precious mother of my children, because it will lead to more answered prayers, but first I'll tell you a little more about my family life as a child, so you'll understand my childhood dream. I came from a very disfunctional family, and my father was very emotionally abusive! (Not Physically!)
He liked to yell a lot, and sometimes it seemed like he yelled for no reason at all! (Please don't judge him!) His childhood was worse than mine! Never-the-less! I feared him, and tried to avoid him as much as possible.
I had five sisters growing up, but I have another sister from my step-father now! (Six total!) My father's temper was devastating to all of us, so we hid from him most of the time, because of his temper.
Now I want to tell you what my favorite TV show was when I was a child, because it would play an important role pertaining to my dream, and also an important role in my marriage as an adult.
My favorite TV show was "Leave It to Beaver". Because I would see how the Cleaver family life style was like on the Leave It To Beaver Show, and I knew it was different than my family life. Ward Cleaver was different than my father.
I suppose Ward Cleaver was a Role model to me in a way! I remember thinking, that I wish my father was like him. Remember! I was also close to Beaver's age, so I was watching the show through a child's eyes.
I also remember times I would stare out the window, and seeing the man next door stumbling out of a cab, because every night he'd drink until he was too drunk to walk, while his daughter needed shoes.
It was things like this that sparked my childhood dream. Some boys wanted to grow up and be cowboys, policemen, and things like that, but I wanted to grow up, and be the best father I could be to my children.
You See! I wanted to be like Ward Cleaver on the Leave It To Beaver Show! So I dreamed about being just like him as I was growing up. So my appreciation for a loving family circle stemmed from my childhood dream.
I carried my childhood dream into my marriage, after I grew up, and I was also a Christian by then, so it seemed like my childhood dream was becoming a reality. I finally could have the family I dreamed about!
But I'd like to share some things about my wife, and how we met. I had known the Lord for about a couple years before I met my wife. (Who was actually my first wife. I’m married to another precious woman named Carol now. ). I read that 500 page Bible Story Book in August of 1969. I met my first wife in a Christian coffee house in December 1971.
The first thing I ever heard her say was Jesus! I remember how she would light up the room as she walked in. She had a very beautiful smile, and she would speak the name of Jesus, like someone she loved.
You can see a picture from a local newspaper article about that christian coffee house on the front page of my website, just look for "Jeff 72", because it was in 1972, and my picture was also in that newspaper article, it shows me holding up a Bible, as if I'm in deep thought.
But the coffee house was going to close up in March 1972, about 3 months after I first seen my wife. We were just friends & acquaintances at that time. Our relationship was no different than it was with anyone else there.
But I knew the man, who ran the coffee house well, and he let me stay in it over night the last week it was open. I wanted a place to praise & seek the Lord alone, so he let me use the coffee house after hours.
I remember praising the Lord for hours through the night. I also poured out my heart to him, and made my request until him. I remembered my childhood dream, and how much I wanted children.
So I asked the Lord to send me a wife, because I didn't trust my judgment at the time. The coffee house was filled with many young girls, and I could have chosen several of them. (But which one?)
So I ask the Lord to send a woman I couldn't shake! No matter how much I tried! Then I would know she was from him. I said that prayer about 2 days before the coffee house closed to the public.
Little did I know, that the Lord would answer it in a miraculous way! My wife's name was Marilyn, and it was the last day of the coffee house, and both Marilyn & I were there, but we all would be leaving as they closed the doors.
The thing is: Marilyn & I would never have seen each other again after that, except something happen as she started to walk out the door. The Spirit grabbed a hold of me, and set me on my feet.
Then these words came out of my mouth! (To my surprise!) I said "Marilyn, we're not at peace! Are we?" But I didn't understand why I said that. But I was even more surprised, when she stopped in her tracks, then she turned around and said "No we aren't"
She then walked out the door, and I thought I'd never see her again, and I was confused why I said that, and why she said what she did. But it was the Lord, because of what happened next.
I was still there about an hour later, when the phone rang, and I was told the call was for me. That surprised me too, because nobody ever called me there! But it was Marilyn on the phone, and here's what she said:
She said: "Jeff, Two days ago, you were the last man I would have picked at the coffee house! But the Lord came to me in a vision the other day, and told me I'd be the mother of your children, and I can't get you out of my mind since!"
Yes! She had that vision the same day I prayed that prayer! I couldn't believe what I was hearing on the phone that day, so I told her to come to the Coffee House the next day! It would be closed, but I knew the owner.
So we talked down the basement of the coffee house the next day. The same basement I praised the Lord in all week before then. The Lord was answering my prayer, but I was fighting it.
Why? Marilyn & I were from different side of the tracks. She came from a family, who lived in a nice house. She drove a brand new car! Her family was much like the Leave It To Beaver family. Her father was much like Ward Clever!
But I came from a dysfunctional family! I never drove a car in my life before then! I was the one, who use to sleep under bridges all over the country. I suppose I didn't think I had a chance with Marilyn.
So I felt nervous in that basement, and I lacked confidence I could make her happy! So I told her I was leaving, and was hitch hiking to New Orleans, and I tried hard to discourage her, and then I started up the stairs.
But then I felt her pulling on my pants legs. I couldn't shake her, and she pulled me right down those stairs, so there I sat remembering my prayer! Lord, send me a woman I can't shake, and I was sitting in the same place I said that prayer at the bottom of the stairs.
So Marilyn & I walked out together that day, and we were married Dec. 2, 1972. I also prayed for a few other things that day. I prayed for a job. I prayed to learn to drive, so I could get a car.
It was Marilyn who taught me to drive in that brand new car of hers! I received my driver license in July that year. I also had a job, and purchased my first car in August 1972. About 4 months before we were married!
Marilyn would have been my first pick at the coffee house! Because we did visit Nursing homes together, and ministered to the old people long before that prayer. I liked her friendly smile so much!
But I never considered her, because I just didn't think I had a chance with her, and she confirmed that by saying I was the last man there she would have picked. So I was walking on clouds when we walked out of the coffee house together, after the prayer!
It makes me think of Psalm 37:4 that says: "Delight thyself in the Lord, and he shall give you the desires of your heart" I loved praising him, and the Lord meant everything to me. (I was so sincere about him!)
So we were married, and even though I was intimidated by my in-laws, because I was from the wrong side of the tracks, yet I grew to love them, because they really were the Leave It To Beaver type family!
But Marilyn & I belonged to a small circle of Christians when we were married, and several members of that circle moved to Portland, Oregon in March 1973 including Marilyn & myself! (In fact! Two people in that Christian circle were my old fiancé and her brilliant husband, who turned to God under the stars one night. It was my first fiancé who I first prayed for after reading that Bible Story Book a few years before.)
It didn't take us long to find all the churches in Portland, so we met many new Christian friends in Portland almost immediately! But we went through a trial about 3 months after moving there! (The Lord was testing my faith!) (Click On The Banner Below To Go To Part Two Of My Testimony & Answered Prayers)