Jesus Did It!
By: Norm Rasmussen
This is my experience of how God became real to me.
Early in my childhood, around 1955, at about age nine, I accepted Christ as my Savior, when a traveling Christian evangelist came to the little logging community of Bates, Oregon. With a child's mentality, I'm sure I did it to hopefully make God happy with me, and so I wouldn't go to hell, which was an understandable motive, but I just didn't follow up on associating myself with other knowledgeable - dedicated Christians after that who could help me grow in my understanding of God and the intense, demonically spiritual battle Satan and the demons he commands has been allowed to launch in the minds of people around this planet to keep them from hearing and believing what Jesus Christ accomplished for them on the Cross -- whereby making them both fully qualified and justified in the heart of God to live their life to the fullest potential ... starting in this life and lasting for ETERNITY.
After high school, at age 18, I enlisted in the Army to serve in the Military Intelligence sector. I wanted to serve my country and receive schooling that might help me in a career after the military. Through a series of events I wasn't particularly happy about, a few days before Christmas, 1967, I landed foot on the shores of South Vietnam; full of fear and apprehension and frustration for being assigned there against my will and especially the job they wanted me to do.
In Vietnam, I was assigned to be a Prisoner-Of-War interrogator at the field level. Our main objective was try to help save the lives of our fellow soldiers by providing accurate and timely information about the enemies' activities (and for that I am thankful I was able to help do), and of course, trying to stop the Communists from taking over South Vietnam. In seeking information from prisoners, "creative" interrogation "techniques" were sometimes used that inflicted a lot of pain to extract information from hard-core prisoners (otherwise they wouldn't reveal information they had) that helped deaden my conscience to any value to life I may have gone to Vietnam with.
Experiencing first-hand the horrors and injustices of that war (as there are in all wars to one degree or another), my concept of an "all loving, all merciful, all compassionate God being in control of this planet drastically began to alter my belief about Him. Seeing all the pain the Vietnam conflict was bringing to the lives of so many people, including mine ... I wasn't sure I wanted to put my trust in any supposed God any longer who allowed such things to happen.
To forget and to deal with pain, and to try to put the whole nightmare behind me and get on with my life as best I could, I came back from Vietnam a hard-core alcoholic and chronic smoker with a heart as cold as steel. My wife had a very emotionally unstable and troubled husband to deal with, though I certainly was into denial to it, sadly and regrettably.
EMOTIONALLY RAPED - JUST WANTING TO FORGET
Though thankful to be alive, I left Vietnam very emotionally troubled - (feeling emotionally raped, is probably more like it) - wanting to forget everything about Vietnam. Feelings of betrayal will do poisonous things to a soldier's mind. Then having to deal with issues back here in the United Sates once I returned -- the anti-war critics stateside (wondering who my enemy now really was), who didn't seem to care that most American soldiers hadn't volunteered to go there in the first place, but were drafted and forced to go (Even as voluntary enlistees which was my case), plus feeling like I had let the very people down I had been sent to help liberate, the South Vietnamese people, especially when we pulled out our military forces a couple of years later and left the South Vietnamese people to fend for themselves ... made things even worse. Part of me grew so angry at times at unsympathetic American anti-war protestors and unsympathetic politicians that I became frightened at what I might do if caught in a confrontational situation with them -- knowing that if I didn't avoid those situations, I was going to most likely spend the remainder of my life in jail otherwise, if I survived a confrontation. Thus I avoided confrontation as much as possible, and buried my pain with more alcohol and isolationism to try to deal with my depression, repressed anger, and other emotional issues, (inability to remember and stay focused in the work place - relate properly in marriage - my confidence in being able to move up in advancement to provide for my family ... among other challenging issues both on and off the workplace), not to mention sleeplessness (from tormenting dreams and nightmares often associated with Vietnam plus severe back pain and a leg injury caused from a military injury) that came along with it all.
Most marriages suffer conflict at one time or another. When conflict rose in ours, I tried to bury most of my feelings with alcohol and isolationism, rather than seek professional advice to help work them out. It was hard for me to open up to others, especially about Vietnam issues. It just seemed to me like no one really understood, unless they had served in Vietnam. Even when I was able to find another 'Nam vet to open up to, which was rare, it seemed like that vet's anger and frustration only fed mine, and vice versa, and I grew to even make it a point to especially stay away from other Vietnam vets as much as I could for that reason.
Like many others have done, in weak moments I began to think that an intimate relationship with another woman might bring a little happiness to drown out the depression and numbing pain inside me. Sad to say, adultery followed, and the "happiness" was short-lived, because the guilt ate at me constantly. My wife didn't deserve my doing that; not in the least very bit, nor did my two precious children. To bury my guilt, I drank more alcohol and smoked more cigarettes and sought out whatever means was at my disposal to try to deaden the pain in my soul.
IS THERE REALLY A GOD?
And through all those trying years, I still wondered if there really was a God. Part of me wanted to believe there was, yet there was another part of me that had difficulty believing unless I could "prove" there was a God. I had read a number of "positive thinking" books that the devil had used to convince me that if a person can believe hard enough, you can create your own reality. I had experimented with hypnotism at an early age, and had experienced manifestations that many have not. Reading about and experimenting with hypnosis, I was an ardent student of "mind over matter." Meaning ... God can become real to you . . . but that doesn't mean He really exists. Little did I realize how strong the sin of independent pride was that had been operating in my life that caused this deception. Worse yet, little did I know that I was addicted to the MOST LETHAL KIND of drugs known to fallen mankind: The demonic, spiritual drugs of doubt and unbelief keeping me from clearly believing Truth. As I look back at my life then, I essentially was tied to a gurney with needles in every vein of my body taking in the two drugs of doubt and unbelief seven days a week, 24 hours a day.I was quick to find fault in Christians and organized religion as well; totally unaware of the devil's influence over my thinking -- totally unaware of how much influence Satan has been allowed by God to have over the human race to test men's and women's hearts and influence their thinking until his time is done ... including Christians. Like many others, I felt all churches wanted was to try to control you and con you out of your money. After all, if one believes there probably is no God unless it can be "proven," how can that person possibly believe there could be a devil or Satan who God has allowed to have great influence over the affairs of mankind until God determines otherwise (Which the Bible promises is going to happen when Jesus returns again to Earth)? My belief about the devil or Satan or demons was that it was just something early Christians had come up with to try to put fear into people to get them to believe the way they wanted them to believe.
The classic overflow of my doubt and unbelief-addicted mind was that I also felt a person was stupid to believe that they could trust the Bible. I had taken the belief (fallen for Satan's lie) that man screws everything up and you couldn't convince me that that modern-day accepted translations of the Bible have been preserved by God to be trusted to know what God wants mankind to know about Him and properly relate to Him and others. And another question I had: Why would God allow so many different translations of the Bible to be printed anyway? And why would He allow so many different denominations and different religions? Why couldn't it just be kept simple in black and white? It just made no sense to me whatsoever, thus I came to the conclusion that there was no sense to be made of it period.Fortunately though, there were people God used along life's way to influence me positively about God. An older sister and her husband were two of those people. Flora and her husband, Jerry Cheadle, had become "born again," and their enthusiasm and devotion about their intimate relationship with Jesus Christ captured my attention.
My youngest brother, Dale Rasmussen, the black sheep of the family as far as I was concerned growing up, (really because of some very lacking parenting; he's so precious to me now), also had a powerful born again experience in his twenties. It was seeing the incredible change in his life for the better that began to make me take a more serious look at my comprehension of "personal relationship with Jesus Christ" Christianity. When I would talk with Dale, all he would tell me was to forget about my hang-ups about Christianity and organized religion, and just fall in love with Jesus Christ. He said the rest of it would all fall into place in due time. But I didn't know who Jesus Christ was, or should I say, IS. That's because I refused to believe what the Bible says about Him is true (from Chapter 1 of the Book of John in the Bible; Colossians 1:13-20, as well as a few other places in scripture). I believed the lie that the Bible cannot be trusted. If you allow the devil to convince you of that you'll have a very difficult time coming to know truly who Jesus Christ really is. When you don't realize who He really is, you don't realize GOD Himself died on the cross for you -- taking full punishment for your sins ... not just a "good man" who did some very incredible things.
WALKING TIME BOMB
Alcoholism, anger, emotional instability and stress continued to take its ugly toll, as well as the other affects of sin in my life. Near age 35, I was told unexpectedly by a nurse that my heart was like a walking time bomb, ready to explode. My heart was ready to quit any minute due to extreme high blood pressure. I was sleeping very little, smoking 3 packs of cigarettes a day minimum, and drinking close to half of a fifth of hard liquor a day most of the time, not to mention various amounts of beer and wine ... to try to cope with pain (both emotional and physical; I had started developing severe back and a right leg issues by that time as well).
When I was told that I had to quit smoking and drinking or else suffer a heart attack, part of me didn't care if I died. In my mind, it was a way out of my pain and misery. After all, it would be death through "natural causes." Who would ever know the real reason?
Yet another part of me wanted what my sister, Flora Cheadle, and her husband Jerry, and my younger brother Dale Rasmussen had found, which was a personal relationship with whom they believed to be the Creator of the universe -- no substitutes. They weren't propagating a religion, a denomination (or denominationalism), or a teacher. What they were propagating was a personal relationship with the triune God: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, and I liked the exciting fruits, or results you might say, that they were getting. They had peace and joy in their life that I didn't have. They had purpose for living that I didn't have. No - their lives were not spared from conflict. In fact, conflict actually increased (due to demonic attacks constantly coming against them, which I've come to realize is quite typical). Even so, their lives had become centered on helping others come to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and grow in their relationship with Him, instead of being self-consumed with pain, bitterness, resentment, anger and confusion like mine was.
So near age 35 (in 1980), I was a wreck. I was facing death by essentially my own choosing, and I wasn't convinced in my heart that I would go to heaven (if there was such a place: my doubt expressing itself at the time). My marriage had essentially dissolved; my life was in shambles. I had two precious children who did not have a suitable father and an emotionally strained wife who did not have a suitable husband. I had reached a place in my life where I felt like the first 35 years of my life had pretty much been mental hell, and I didn't look forward to spending the last 35 years of my life experiencing the same. Death seemed the only way out, yet I really didn't want to die either. All I really wanted was to have a purpose for living that I just wasn't able to find, no matter how hard I tried, and a little happiness that lasted longer than another alcohol high.
IS THERE REALLY A HEAVEN AND A HELL?
Despair descended upon me, and fear of dying began to suddenly plague my thoughts. What if there really WAS a heaven and a hell? How could I actually prove there wasn't? Furthermore, if there actually was a heaven and a hell, once on the other side, what assurance did I have of having a second chance to get right with God? All I had ever done was live for myself. What would God find in me that would make Him want to let me be in heaven with Him? I had no valid reasons I could come up with. My despair eventually turned to desperation.
Though I had cried out to God all night long starting on a Thursday night with nothing happening -- everything culminated two mornings later.
The second night, Friday evening, I went to bed like I had done the night before, and started crying out to Jesus Christ again . . . if there was a Jesus Christ who could hear me, or wanted to hear me. "Let me know you are real! I do want to serve the real God, but I've got to know you are real! I've got to know that what the Bible says about you is true! I've got to know if you really care for me!" I cried and agonized to God until the wee hours of dawn, but all I heard was silence. "God. . .do you even hear me?"
More silence . . .
I finally gave up. What a fool I felt I had been to cry out like this all night long, I rationalized - thinking that maybe - just maybe - God would have compassion on me and somehow reveal His reality to me in a way that I wasn't so doubtful and confused about Him.
It was just starting to break day that early Saturday morning and then it happened! The bedroom instantly became about 30% brighter. I looked for a light to be on but none was! I thought maybe the sun was now up and I had fallen asleep and had wakened hours later, but the clock said differently. No - I wasn't imagining it nor was I dreaming it. The light was real! It was of equal intensity throughout the room. An invisible presence was in my room. The reason I know so was because an indescribable love was so strong in that room that it seemed there was not enough room to contain it all! I felt like I was being shoved back by a big hand into my bed, the love was so strong. And I knew - don't ask me how I knew - I just knew that I knew that it was the presence of Jesus Christ in my room!
GOD IS REALLY REAL!
At that moment He spoke very powerfully to me. Not audibly, I don't think, but powerfully to my inner being (I've come to realize He spoke to my spirit, which is a common way for Him to speak to people). The intensity of it was so strong though that it might just have well of been audible. He told me what I had to do to make my relationship work with Him. Then instantly all the anguish and pain and misery and confusion and doubt of a lifetime was sucked out of me. And all that was left was peace. Sweet beautiful peace . . . and knowing that God is real.
Then the room instantly was darkened again as before. And the presence of Christ was now gone. The whole thing didn't take more than a few brief moments to happen, but happen it did! I was now a believer! Moments later, I pulled the covers off from me, sat on the side of the bed, and made a solemn vow to God. I said, "Thank you, Lord, for revealing yourself to me in a way that I can believe in you. I know I don't deserve what has just happened here, and I promise to serve you the rest of my life. I'll do whatever you ask me to do."I've done my best to keep that promise, even though I've made many mistakes and fallen short often since then. Have I attained sinlessness? No way! Do I ever get angry at God? Many times! Do I ever tire of disappointment after disappointment? Like the plague! Do I ever grow weary of praying and feasting on God's Word and doing ministry? Oh let me count the times! Are their times when my faith is weak and my hope is a distant, flickering flame, or so it would seem? More times than what I care to try to remember! Do I always "count it all joy" when trial after trial seems to be more frequent than not? Not nearly as much as God would like.
I'll conclude this testimony by saying that I owe God everything for what He did to help me realize who He truly WAS and IS, and what was accomplished by His dying on the cross for humanity -- for dying for MY sins and taking my punishment for them when He is the very last Person (least most deserving, because He's GODthe Co-Creator of all things) who should have done that. Furthermore ... He has granted me the desire of my heart - which was and is to give me a purpose for living that has His eternal purpose in mind - which is to be used of Him to tell others about who Jesus Christ truly IS, and what He did for them by taking full punishment for their sins on the cross just like He did for me.
If you are as skeptical as I once was about Him and essentially all Christianity, all I can suggest is that you get desperate as you know how to get desperate to seek Him and never stop seeking Him to have Him reveal to you who He truly IS and what He did for YOU. I certainly can't promise anyone He will come through for you like He did me, but this I've learned about God in serving Him over 35 years now (as of 2017). A great deal of the time, God doesn't come through for us like we might like Him to until we get desperate enough. I believe He will often force us to come to a place of desperation before He manifests Himself to us because most people won't really serve Him all that much (afterwards) once He begins to revealTruth about Himself to them unless it truly costs them something. That cost? Pain. Pain has a way of making you appreciate what is truly valuable.
When you think you have tried everything else you know to do spiritually and it doesn't seem to be working, here's what I do and I advise others to strongly consider doing: Separate yourself from people as best as you can and get alone with God. Tell God you have nowhere else to turn to but Him, and refuse to let silence from Him be the outcome. Hours and days and weeks and months and years are irrelevant. He has an answer for every problem we have. He has a solution for every dilemma we face. He has the power to make anything happen He wants to make happen. That's not the issue. To me, the issue IS: How can I motivate Him to respond to my heart's cry? How desperate am I to continue (persist) seeking Him and refuse to settle for anything less than HIS solution to my pain, whatever my pain may be? That has worked for me since that morning He made Himself real to me in 1980, and until it should stop working, that's the very best advice I can offer to anyone else to consider doing with God.
Norm's Full-Length Salvation Written Testimony, and a link at the end of it to share how the ministry of Precious Testimonies began: http://precious-testimonies.com/BornAgain/L-N/Norm.htm
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