By: Shanon Elisha
This is just a little story about passing from the death of living for myself -- to life -- because I chose to love my sisters rather than seeking to protect my life against them.
I have known Deanna, my childhood friend, all the way through high school, and up 'till now we have been through a lot -- from seeing each other getting married and having children together, to traveling to a foreign country with Jump for Jesus Ministries and singing for a King!
When we were in high school, we had a very pretentious, surface relationship. I always knew how to make Deanna laugh. I was like the jester and she was the level head in our friendship. She brought conviction to my conscience to the things that I was trying to hide by all of the joking and jesting. Being a jokester took the light off of all of the guilt, fears, and emptiness that I was hiding. Her air of self-righteousness always reflected my deficiencies. I saw her as a girl that "had it all together", not afraid and insecure like I was. I was continually envying her, comparing myself to her (of course I never won any of these mental comparing contests!). Little did I know the truth of what my "best friend" had been hiding in the secrets of her heart. As I was jealous of her self-confidence and perfect home life (I had no idea of the skeletons in the closets), she was jealous of my skinny body from anorexia! Deanna was so insecure in her own life because of her weight, and wanted the approval of men so much that she was secretly binging and purging to lose weight. While she was secretly bulimic, I was starving myself with anorexia fearing that I was going to end up a lonely old maid! I was just vengeful that I was not getting life and love the way I wanted it. We were too prideful to admit to each other the monsters that we had hiding in our lives.
Once in a great while when they popped out, we would disclose our fears and jealousies, then our pride would cause us to close up again. We were vain and feigned … two fearful, insecure girls not knowing how to help each other. We were overwhelmed by the screaming me-me, needy monster inside of ourselves. We never would divulge our secret thoughts and motivations or even be sincere...lying was a true way of life for us both. Our outward appearance and façade we portrayed was more important to us than caring about what Jesus cared about -- the thoughts and intents of the heart. Our feigned love with each other exposed our feigned love for the Lord. Isn’t this how we were to be…so Jesus would accept us? After all - didn’t we need our own righteousness and works in order for the Lord to receive us? (How could we reach out or even see the other one drowning in hopelessness when we had no faith that the Lord would deliver us from our own evil!) Pride knows how to masquerade the truth in our hearts. But, my neighbor came and searched me out!
That is exactly what happened in our friendship. The Lord used each of us to "search out" the field of our hearts to see if there were any seeds of love that would grow. Would we be willing to work and labor in the "field of each others hearts," even if it meant risking the possibility of hurting one another’s feelings or being misunderstood? The devil comes only to divide us, and we needed to get understanding to the wiles of the devil against our relationship with the Lord and each other.
About five years later, Deanna and I began working together for the ministry that we are involved in. We cooked meals for ministry retreats, training events and meal services. Little did we know that something was cooking. All of our fears that we were hiding and everything that was left undone came boiling to the surface! (I was willing to point out the log in Deanna’s eye, all the while denying the log that was really in mine!)
Twice it says in the Psalms …"They eat up my children as one eats bread and call not upon the name of the Lord!" We both had to decide if we were going to call upon the Lord and start living by the revelation of His Spirit. We had to begin to live according to His Word, rather than by our fears and unbeliefs! We were too afraid of being wronged, getting our feelings hurt, even letting our anger show. We were more interested in our own will, rather than doing God's will. (We had yet to "consider Jesus who had endured a great contradiction of sinners"….so I guess our small and menial issues could be helped by The God of all creation!). I began to see that saying that I love God, but holding onto anger, resentment, fear, and even defending myself against Deanna was not bringing the Lord near to my life! Psalms 15 says:
"Who shall abide with the Lord? He that back bites not nor does evil to his brother and does not take up a reproach against his neighbor!"
Did God care more about my attitude and actions toward others? Was life more than me and Jesus? Jesus showed His love for God by doing what was right with God’s people … obeying His word concerning how I had treated people was a "new light" I needed to walk in.
One day I was reading in 1 John 2:11 that says:
"He that says he is in the light and hates his brother (looks down on his brother) is in darkness, walks in darkness and knows not where he goes because that darkness has blinded his eyes," and in one other verse it says that we are murderers when we hate (look down on) our brothers!
I remember reading these scriptures and saw myself in them. It broke my heart when I saw my true heart in the light of God’s Word and to see what He thought about me when I look down on others. The Lord in His love was beginning to break my hard heart to convict me of these things, so that I would not be condemned for being loveless and unmoved toward people’s needs. He was showing me that it was a greater blessing to give, love, and serve others; to walk as He walked; it was greater to give then receive. I had to begin to believe that He would give me all that I needed so that I would steal and envy others no longer!
Seeing the sin of fear - knowing that we needed to begin to be honest...(as the Word says to walk in the light as He is in the light)...we walked into the fiery furnace to find Jesus and get free! It’s funny as I look back on how we were. Deanna and I would put on our "battle armor" (carnal weapons) of defenses in our minds even before we would talk to each other! We had to begin to see each other not as the enemy, but as a sister who needed to be reconciled with the Lord and that it was our honor to find answers in His Word to help. We also needed to see that Jesus has called us to wash each other's feet, and take the grave clothes off of each other. He wanted to teach us to have a twig ministry, rather than secretly thinking there was a log in each other's eye. Our defensiveness was just proving that our "perfect fear was casting out love." It was proving to us that we were more willing to love our self first and that love was shallow in us. We had to be willing to "do good and communicate for with such SACRIFICES the Lord is well pleased." It was a sacrifice to be honest, after all...I was such a liar. I was going to lie and flatter so that I could be in "control" of what others thought about me…(like you really can control what people think!) It only it left me totally insecure instead because deep inside I knew my love was with hypocrisy.
Ephesians 4 says that you lie not to one another because you are MEMBERS OF ONE ANOTHER! So speak the truth in love. I never saw Deanna as a member of me, that we as Christians were to see each other as a part, together running the race, picking up the other when they fall, as a body does not function without a limb, so we needed to have that same "need" or value for the other. I began to see love in a new light that love was speaking, not keeping your mouth shut to keep people from being angry or defensive. Proverbs puts it this way:
When you see your brother about to fall and you say nothing, how dwells the love of God in you?
I repented, and changed my mind about withholding God's love. I realized it's an honor to feel forgiven, and live to love others rather than living to just meet your own needs.
As Deanna and I began to humble ourselves...looking to give love and not to take... looking to serve and not compete...it brought a whole new spirit in our friendship. We saw the true meaning of friendship. A friend loves at all times! As we looked to the Lord for His help and guidance, He was faithful to give us what we needed.
I remember reading the scripture where Jesus says, "If you ask of my Father in Heaven to give you bread, will He give you a stone?"
I had many stones from the devil to throw at people, because I had little faith and love in God. He who has been forgiven much, loves much! It was in receiving His love and forgiveness that I was able to start giving His bread from heaven, the Word of life!
You know you have passed from death unto life when?? When you love the brethren! Deanna, as well as others were the "door to life" for me. Hebrews 12 says…
"Seeing that you have a great cloud of witnesses, see that you lay aside EVERY WEIGHT AND THE SIN which does so easily besets us!"
It is in having His cloud of witnesses that has helped me see the weight and sin that was destroying me, and I am ever thankful for the work of His hands through those that He sent.
The more that I am willing to receive of the ones that He has sent, the more I receive of Him. Conflict in relationships has caused me to draw nigh to the Lord, to pray and not fret! I see it as the opportunity to draw nigh to my God and Savior and to do right by His people.
All the law is fulfilled in one law:
"Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself."
And oh how pleasant it is for sisters to dwell together in unity, it's there that the Lord commands the blessing! Instead of listening to the devil who was secretly using me to condemn Deanna, I decided to let God use me to build her up and help her. We should all have the ministry of reconciliation, and see it as an honor that God would use us to reconcile each other. The bible says woe unto him who lives for himself alone. Two are better than one; they have a GOOD REWARD for their labor. For one can pick up his fellow when he falls. How can one go to war alone, stay warm alone, and a three fold cord is not easily broken. Jesus is coming back for ONE BRIDE...those Ephesians 4 talks about. Those are the ones being built up in love, speaking the truth in love, believing they are members one of another. Jesus wants us to work through our problems here on the earth, so heaven will be full of rejoicing! There is another scripture that says,
"My hands are clean from the blood of all men, I have given them the full counsel of God".
Jesus will help us walk this out if we have the sincerity of heart and faith, He will!
Currently Tim, Deanna and their two children, Esther and Joshua, live in Billings, Montana. Laurence, Shanon and their son Eric of course reside in Billings, Montana also…not too far away from the Atsatts! We our part of an evangelistic ministry called Jump for Jesus. Deanna and Shanon are part of the singing group called New Life Singers. We have currently made a CD that you can request and we will send you one.
Our friendship has also blessed us together in our families. It is our prayer that as you read this story, that the Lord would send you His family like a flock! He sends men for our lives and help from His sanctuary. I would have fainted unless I had seen the goodness of God in the land of the living!
Deanna and Shanon would like to hear from you. If you want to contact them, here are their addresses below.
You can read Shanon’s by clicking on this link: THE SPIRIT OF ADOPTION
Shanon’s email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Deanna has a written testimony that you can request or email her at.. Atsattlifegivers@bresnan.net
You can also click on this link to view theJump for Jesus ministries.
We Pass From Death Unto Life…Because We Love
A story of two friends
Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you ... please don't make such a tragic mistake.
To get to know God; to be at peace with God; to have your sins forgiven; to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity; to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help understand the importance of being reconciled to God. What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one. Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life.
The staff and our ministry supporters so greatly appreciate hearing how God is touching lives for His glory through this outreach. If this ministry has touched you in some special way, would you please consider taking a brief moment and share your blessing with us? It is always encouraging to hear how God is using this ministry to touch lives for His glory through this outreach. Simply email us at: email@example.com
We truly thank each of you who allow us to publish your testimony, for those who faithfully pray (and fast) for this outreach, for those of you who help support the ministry financially, and for those of you who pass along these testimonies and other ministry writings to others. Especially to prisoners! The part the Holy Spirit has you play is vital in helping win lost souls and being engaged in discipleship, and we can never thank you enough for the labor of love and support you provide on behalf of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Precious Testimonies is supported financially by those God impresses to sow into this ministry. We bring before the Lord in prayer the needs of the ministry as He determines them; ask Him to meet them; trust Him to meet them; engage in warfare prayer on a regular basis (and occasional fasting) as the Holy Spirit moves us to; remain patient for His perfect timing to be administered in these matters; and are truly thankful to Him when answers are met by Him. (Mark 11:22-24 is our guidelines - pathway - roadmap to God in all this).
Precious Testimonies is a non-denominational 501-C-3 evangelistic ministry, and financial love offerings to this ministry are tax-deductible. A financial summary can be viewed by clicking on the following link: Financial Summary.
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