Sis. Margaret Wilkinson's Testimony
In the course of my conversation with Chris I got to telling her some of my testimony of how I came to the Lord, and you know how journalists are. They trap you into saying what you don’t want to say. She asked me to print it out for the newsletter and she only gave me 3 days to do it in. Now I have this problem; what do I leave out to make it short enough to fit into the newsletter?
Looking back it was in early 1963 when God started to move events into position ready for my surrender to Him. I was 29 yrs old and married to Ed with four children, and in the middle of preparing for divorce, as I had believed the lies of the devil that I would be happier elsewhere. It is enough to say that I was very ashamed of the life I was living, yet not being able to change it as I had given myself over to the devil in many ways. I didn’t know that I could have said 'No' to him, I really thought it was me making decisions. I now know that I was being directed by the enemy of our souls.
But all that the Father have given Me will come to Me. It humbles me greatly when I think of God’s wonderful Grace that He should reach down His hand for me. There was nothing in my life that I could claim that I deserved this wonderful Grace that God was to bestow upon me, even after almost 37 yrs. I cry when I think of such Grace that God should love a sinner such as I. My mum and dad held meetings in their home for the young people of the mission that they attended. Their Light was very minimal but they had hearts that wanted to please God. My father died when I was 15 years old so my mother was left to pray for Ed and I.
My mind was made up that I would not serve God. My fathers death was a big shock to me. At 15 years old I lost the daddy I needed so much! I remember just screaming and screaming that it wasn’t true and I thought this only happens to other people, it can’t be happening to me. From that point on, death became a reality to me.
It was at this point that I attended a meeting where an American evangelist was preaching. I responded to the altar call, and something really happened to me. I now know that something was the experience of justification. So I attended the mission where my parents had attended and became a sunday school teacher. My justification experience was short lived as I found within me the same old Margaret so I thought that what had happened to me must not be real. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite so I gave it all up (how the devil must have rejoiced). It was sad really that I had no one to explain what was happening.
Nineteen years later God started to deal with me again (now I am back to paragraph two above, I really need the Lord to help me to be concise with this testimony). Ed and I had been discussing who would have what of the household goods now we was planning to be divorced. We had four children and our eldest child Gordon, then 9 yrs old, came to me and said "Mum, when you go, will you take me with you?". How selfish to discuss divorce in front of the children. I suddenly realised what I was doing to my children. I must try again for their sakes. Some point later I was walking along talking to a friend and thoughts started to flood my mind of going back to church and a desire started to move within me that I wanted God (oh the power of a mothers prayers that can change ones thoughts and desires).
So I went to one of the meetings in my mum’s home. The preaching was on being a new creature in Christ Jesus. This was the first time I had heard this kind of thing. I remember thinking that can’t be possible because I had tried and nothing happened. I spoke with the preacher afterwards and told him I didn’t think that was possible. I left with something stirring in my heart, so on the bus ride home I opened my bible and read a verse that so condemned me, I was left without hope (the devil knows how to point to our sins and he succeeded that time, but the Lord was in battle for my soul!)
Many things happened in the following months, despair and all hope gone.
We lived over the top of a bank where Eddie worked, and we would clean the bank in the evening for extra money. This particular evening my mother visited us and asked me to go to a meeting to hear an Australian preacher. She gave me a tract of his testimony and so to please her I said that I would probably go. Whilst down in the bank I read the tract (I didn’t want my mum to know that I was interested - pride!) This Australian had been a night club owner drinking a bottle of whisky a day and smoking 60 cigarettes a day but God had changed him. Right down in my heart I heard the Lord say to me "I can do that for you". I started to cry and Ed not knowing what was happening mockingly said "God must be speaking to you". He didn’t know that was the truth, God was speaking to me and that was why I was crying (you all know what it is like when God touches you, very humbling).
When we went back upstairs not wanting Eddie to know what was happening, whilst he was out of the way I knelt by the bed and opened my old Bible and it opened at Romans 10:9 'That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God has raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.' This really stood out to me and it seemed that God was speaking to me. I said to Him "Yes I know that You have raised from the dead and when I go to that meeting I will confess you with my mouth". I didn’t know it at the time but God had put the knowing in me. Isn’t He wonderful? It’s Gods work even when we don’t know it.
Amongst many other things I was heavily addicted to smoking and one week later I was on my way to the meeting that was going to change my life forever. I needed some more cigarettes as I only had 2 left. I intended to go into the temperance bar for some but time was getting late and my mother was a stickler for punctuality, so I thought I will get some from the pub when the meeting was finished.
I don’t know what the preacher spoke on, the only thing I remember was that he asked if any one had a testimony to stand up and give it. Immediately I remembered the promise that I had made to God although I had totally forgotten about it during the past week. I searched through my mind as to what to say, but I was condemned, the only thing that went through my mind was "You have nothing that you can say for God because you are so unclean". The preacher moved on and I was so disappointed that I had let God down "Well you can’t even keep your word" was all that was going through my mind. Then he came to the part of the service for the altar call. "Stand up if you want to come to God" he asked. What a fight! I was glued to my chair, I kept trying to get up and couldn’t. Then the power of God came and I shot out of the chair like a cork popping out of a bottle.
A number of people responded and went into a room for counselling. The preacher asked "Who is a sinner here?" and there was only me that said "I am". He counselled the others in a group before he dealt with me alone. He asked me what my problem was and I told him it was smoking because I didn’t want him to know anything else, I was too ashamed. Then the tears fell as I wept uncontrollably, I kept trying to apologise for such a display of weakness on my part but the words was lost in the broken crying. After what seemed an age the tears subsided and he prayed for me and inside of me was saying "Yes, Yes, Yes". He gave me that verse of scripture that God will not let you be tempted above what you are able. And I said to the Lord in my heart "But Lord I am so weak I cannot refuse a cigarette if someone offers me one, please don’t let me be tempted".
I came out of that room a new creature in Christ Jesus, old things had passed away, the desire for smoking had gone with no withdrawal symptons, the old desires had totally gone! I felt like jumping on the roof tops to shout to everybody that I was free. My mother cried when she saw me, oh there was such rejoicing!
When I arrived home, Eddie was shocked to say the least as I gave him my 2 cigarettes and told him I had got saved, and when I knelt down to pray at the bedside I could feel his eyes on me. He was totally bewildered and couldn’t understand what had happened to me. Neither could I understand as I had this unquenchable thirst for the Bible. I was ironing the clothes and I would keep stopping to read the Bible, it was almost like I was looking for something in there, but I didn’t know what. It drew me like a magnet.
When anyone came to visit I couldn’t wait to tell them what had happened. When the window cleaner was outside cleaning our windows, I had to open the window to tell him what God had done for me. I passed a bus queue and I had to tell them my testimony, when I got on the bus I would ask the guard if I could speak to the people about God and I never had one refuse me. I had such a burning desire for souls. Many mighty and wonderful supernatural things happened.
And of course my Ed also surrendered himself to the Lord 3 months after I did. God has graciously allowed us to walk together in Him through many valleys and mountain tops, through many great experiences and through many deep trials that if the Lord had not been with us we would have gone under, but in it all He has proved Himself faithful to His Word and He has never failed us!
Whilst I was writing this I have again cried much tears of thankfulness as the Lord has shown me how He was watching over me and how He cared throughout it all. My desire in this testimony is that you will see how great God is and that He is able to accomplish anything for you. He goes to the greatest lengths for you and nothing will stop His will for you to be fulfilled.
I can’t find a place to stop when I talk about the goodness of Jesus, so I will just stop. God bless you!