“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears me and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with that person, and they with me.” Revelation 3:20 (NIV)
My father was very smart and a good provider. He could always find something a little better than what we had. I would always see him praying every morning before he went to work. He came home when I was four years old and told my mother that the four of us, my parents, my eight-year-old sister and I, were leaving the Ukraine to seek freedom. She only had two hours to pack.
We got on a train, but it was 1942 during the war. The track was bombed, so we had to take to the woods and walk. If we were found, most likely we’d be sent to Siberia. Signs of battle and bloodshed were all around us. We slept on the ground, but if it rained, it seemed like we never got wet. The LORD protected us with His umbrella.
One night, we were in an open field when a bright light suddenly appeared. With no trees to shield us, my parents covered my sister and me with their bodies. Thank God it was not a Russian tank. We had sacks of bread and bitter water for our meals. My father fished or found some work to get us more food. When I contracted diphtheria, he searched for medicine long after curfew, but when he finally found it, it was too late. It didn’t work, and I was turning blue. I had an emergency tracheotomy without anesthesia. It didn’t look as if I would make it. But I did.
We safely reached the camps for displaced people in Germany where we’d stay for the next four years. Seven and a half additional years and two countries later, we reached the United States. My earthly father had brought me as far as he could on the journey, but it would take my Heavenly Father to help me find freedom.
Some years later, I was living in Paducah, Kentucky with my husband and children. As an OB-GYN, Paul was “married” to his work. I hardly saw him, and he didn’t seem to need me. Our children’s English was better than mine. I couldn’t help them with their reading or writing and didn’t want them to pick up my accent. I felt like a failure as both a wife and a mother and contemplated ending my marriage.
That’s when I met a beautiful woman in a beauty shop. She was so vibrant and had such joy that I was attracted to her. I wanted what she had. When we began to talk, I was surprised to learn that she had terminal breast cancer.
She sensed that I needed something and asked Paul and me to a meeting at the home of a friend of hers. Her friend was an heiress of a Coca Cola business. I really just wanted to go see her house. I wasn’t that interested in what the meeting was about, but we went.
At the meeting, Ben Hayden gave his testimony. He’d been a successful lawyer and newspaper editor with his marriage on the rocks when Billy Graham came to town. He said to his wife, “Charlene, let’s go just to see people making fools of themselves.” His wife agreed to go, but at the closing of the service, instead of laughing at the “fools,” she went forward. “Charlene, don’t go!” he said. “We don’t make fools of ourselves!” But she just kept going forward. He followed her. They both accepted Christ. He changed their lives and saved their marriage.
I thought, “If God could do that for him, maybe he could do that for me.”
I remembered Ben Hayden reading Revelation 3:20 where Jesus says, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears me, then I will come in and fellowship with that person and they with me.”
“Well, LORD,” I said, “here I am. I confess that I’ve been trying to run my life in my own power and making a mess of it. If there is such a thing as you coming into my heart, my heart is open.”
When I got up from my knees, I was filled with joy. It was indescribable. I went to every mirror in my home and looked at myself because I felt like I was smiling from one ear to the other. For the first time, I truly felt that God loved me, and it is that Truth that finally set me free to be free forever (Galatians 5:1). Jeanne Price