The next morning after praying that prayer of surrender, as the first stream of consciousness flowed up into my mind, along with it rose a pearl of hope, spinning, shining, gleaming in my soul.
This was so different from the dark oppressive feeling I normally encountered upon awakening. The heavy blanket of depression was lifting.
I jumped out of bed, hurriedly dressed, ran over to Jim’s house and knocked on the door. “Guess what?” I shouted, “I’ve become a Christian!”
“Great,” said Jim, “have some orange juice.” This obviously meant nothing to him but it meant something to the Eskimo kindergarten teacher, Ora, who was sitting at the table doing lesson preparation.
“Come here and tell me about it,” she said. As a believer she was able to share my excitement and encourage me.
Wednesday evening I went to the prayer meeting at the Presbyterian church in the village. We sang hymns that I’d sung all my life: dry, dusty words that had moved me little. But now! Now there were flowers growing out of the words, bright colors, rich life, pure scents! The hymns were alive! Everything was different!
The Holy Spirit had come into my life and had brought me out of my prison cell of unbelief and rebellion. As it says in Psalm 18:18,19, “He brought me out into a spacious place. He rescued me because He delighted in me.“
I now grasped in a new and deeper way that Jesus loved me and delighted in me–it was more than an intellectual knowledge. For the first time I knew with my whole person–mind, will and emotions–that I was loved, forgiven and delighted in, not because I was good, but because God is good!
I now had what that little guy in Missoula, Montana resturant had, what the Professor in Spokane had, what that little old lady in Seattle had, what Doug the public health nurse had: a rich, powerful connection with the living and true God!
I knew for sure that the Holy Spirit lived within me. What a difference from the “theoretical Christianity” I’d been living.
Psalm 139 had become a literal reality in my life: “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me…” (Ps. 139:9-11).
This describes my flight to the end of the world where the time line was just over the horizon, where darkness overwhelmed me in the physical, emotional and spiritual realms–and where God used this to bring light into my life. His faithfulness shone forth powerfully in these verses as He held me fast in His love.
I now had a bunch of questions about how to live. Where was I to go from here? What was I supposed to do? God had that situation in hand as well.
The next day Dave Shinen, the Bible translator, arrived in my village, stayed with me for the night, answered all my questions and returned the next day to Gambell!
He had just come along with an Eskimo for the ride, but in actuality, God sent him to lay the first row of living stones in my new life with Christ. Another Jesus sighting, a four star one!
My everyday life continued on with its usual difficulties: the drudgery of lesson preparation, of juggling classes, cooking, pumping kerosene into my stove and refrigerator, boiling all my drinking water and carrying out my honey bucket. There was little relaxation. My new walk with Jesus certainly infused all this with light and creativity, but it was still hard.