How God Finally Broke Me
By Frank Johnson
My Testimony: How God Finally Broke Me by Frank Johnson firstname.lastname@example.org
I have written and told my testimony to people hundreds of times. It remains a very difficult thing to tell, but I do so because I hope and pray that others can glean from it the power and presence of God, and the way he works in the lives of people. Since I have given my life to Christ, I have had many people comment from both ends of the spectrum. Some have been decidedly thrilled, where others have thought I needed medication and perhaps a little time in a padded cell. What I always have to come to is that I know what I know, and I am what I have been made.
Jeremiah 1:5 says,
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
And before you were born I consecrated you;
I never grew up around the Church, so I never really learned very much about the Bible. When I was 12, a neighbor of ours took me to a Presbyterian Church, where, after about three weeks of bible study, I was baptized. I never attended another service after that, largely because I almost immediately denounced it. As I grew up, I would often reflect upon this time of my life as a humorous testimony to the decay of religion in America. That a young boy can go to Church long enough to be “saved” in just three weeks seemed such a ridiculous notion to me.
As I grew older, I became passionately fond of the study of Philosophy. I read a book called, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, and it had a profound influence on my life. I went on to read a number of different books and studied a number of different Philosophers. One of my favorite pass times as a teenager was mocking and tearing up Christians. I would confront them about various “errors” in the Bible, or talk about how the New Testament and Old Testament presented very different Gods. I had come to view Christianity as synonymous with hypocrisy.
I got married to my wife, Erica, in 1994. I graduated from College in 1998. My son was born that same year. I took a job with GE, and life seemed to be going in the right direction for me. By October 2005, I was making pretty good money, working with a company in Dallas. My income kept growing, I had a nice family, and my third child was just born. Life seemed to be moving along at a pretty good clip. Then something happened.
In November, just one month after my daughter was born, Erica’s grandfather died. He was a hero of mine, and my wife was very close to him. It was a difficult time. In December, Erica was meeting me for lunch and she complained about an episode that sounded very much like a minor stroke. Of course, 31 year-old women just don’t have strokes, so I dismissed it. Thankfully her mother told her to go to the hospital to get things checked out. After several hours in the hospital, we learned that something was very wrong. Erica had a dissection in her left Carotid Artery. The dissection was large, and in an inoperable location, right behind the ear. After two days in the hospital, doctors performed an angiogram. They told me that she likely had a disease called “Vascularitis”, which is a potentially fatal condition where a person’s antibodies begin attacking the walls of the artery. The prognosis was very bad. After almost three days in the hospital, I lost track of my children. Someone had them, but I wasn’t sure whom. I was exhausted, scared, and bewildered. My wife, whom I chose to build my entire life with, was quickly slipping away. No one could do anything about it.
I completely broke down right in the middle of the hospital. I am not talking a little whimpering and panting. I am talking snot running, tears pouring, wailing, gasping on my knees broke down. Perfect strangers were looking at me. I had to get away, so I slipped into a little sanctuary provided by the hospital. No one ever goes there!
Once in the sanctuary, I looked up and saw a large cross which stood on top of the alter with some flowers. I began praying. I asked God to get me out of this mess. I told him that, if he got me got me out of this, I would read his book and listen to see if he was real. Every time I think about that, I am reminded what an absurd prayer that it is. I left the sanctuary and called my brother, who came down that night and took care of the kids. That night, a Rheumatoid Specialist told Erica and I that she didn’t have Vascularitis. They didn’t want to operate on the dissection, and they said it would heal over time. They released her from the hospital the next day. That Sunday, we were in Chuch.
Erica put her faith in Christ in January. Immediately she began working on me. Those of you who might know her know that she can be pretty persuasive. We began discussing “what my hang-ups were” one night, and it was approaching an argument. I didn’t want to put my faith into something I wasn’t sure about. I thought I owed it to myself that I take the time to make the right decision. God wouldn’t want me to throw my soul away frivolously, would he? Erica kept pressing and I finally prayed to God to tell me what he wanted me to do. I flipped open the bible and read the following:
19 Remember my affliction and my wandering,
the wormwood and bitterness.
20 Surely my soul remembers
And is bowed down within me.
21 This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
22 The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 "The LORD is my portion," says my soul,
"Therefore I have hope in Him."
25 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him,
To the person who seeks Him.
26 It is good that he waits silently
For the salvation of the LORD.
27 It is good for a man that he should bear
The yoke in his youth.
28 Let him sit alone and be silent
Since He has laid it on him.
29 Let him put his mouth in the dust,
Perhaps there is hope
I realized that I should be waiting on him, and submitting to him. Not the other way around. This is what it means to give yourself to Christ. So I put my faith in Him right there.
In April, Erica went back in the hospital. Her situation had gotten worse, not better. Now the left Carotid artery was completely blocked. Several CT Scans and MRI’s revealed that there was no blood flow coming from the artery. The left half of her brain was severely depleted of blood. Doctor’s began planning a surgical procedure that would reroute blood from the right to left side of her brain. There was an excellent chance this procedure would fail (40% as I recall). The situation looked pretty bad.
The doctors had decided to do an angiogram to get a complete anatomy of Erica’s brain. If the artery was open, they could put a stint into it, which, although considered too risky to initially perform, was now a far better option. That night, several members from our Church came and prayed for Erica. Everyone asked for miraculous and complete healing. When it came to me I asked God to just open the artery a “sliver”. “I don’t need complete healing to know you were there. Just open the artery a sliver God, and I will know it was you.”
The next morning, I got out of the shower and Erica told me, “No matter what happens, it’s going to be OK. Today I am walking with God.” The procedure was scheduled for two to three hours. The doctors came out after an hour and a half. He said, “Well, we went in and took a look at the artery. We found that there was just a little sliver that was open. We were able to stint across it….blah, blah.” He talked for a few minutes more. All I heard was “Erica is healed.”
So there I was, this guy who spent his whole life shredding Christians, reading philosophy and running from God, dancing around, hugging doctors, and praising Jesus.
'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)