Testimonies 13

Testimony shared by Louise Sharrocks

I have been fortunate in life. Very, very loved... enough money, interesting experiences...
maybe nothing too interesting, maybe nothing out of the ordinary.
Yet blessed and extraordinary.

My first experiences of church were fantastic!
Loving Sunday School teachers, singing in church, great Christian camps,
wonderful Christian friends.....
I was born again at the age of 6.. I knew there was a God!
As I grew older I began to feel judged and alienated and my real life no longer jived
with what they were saying at church. 
I began to lie to my family and live a life that no-one in my Sunday school class would appreciate. 
I was growing up in the 70s and enjoyed being the disco diva far more than church. And yet...?

At age 17... I became very very ill. 
There were a couple of long hospital stays..
Ulcerative colitis bought on by stress and a bad diet and too much emotion.
God had deserted me.  The Sunday school experience was for kids and
I didn't care to be a baby any more. 
Despite frequent bouts with my chronic illness I immigrated to the States and met my husband Ron. 
We had 3 beautiful boys, who needed... a religious education.
When I looked into the face of each child...
I knew for sure there was a God and started looking for him again.
Church in America was a strange thing for me.
We went through a couple of different churches and I went through the motions...
being a Sunday school teacher a scout leader.. trying to be a good Mom, putting my family first. 
Still I was sick with the Colitis, for years.

One day I happened across a book in the store, "Amazing Grace" was the title.  
We all the know the hymn. It was a dictionary of religious words and one of the words was "grace".
The author of the book retold the story of Jacob... how he had deceived his father,
lied to his brothers and had run away from home in fear of his life....
yet God had found him in the wilderness...
and sent him a beautiful dream and had seen in him many great things.  
At that time I was thinking of turning down an opportunity to go to art school and it was
my birthday, my children cornered me in the art section of the toy store and wanted to buy
me a coloring book and crayons to go to school with.
I said No... it wasn't what I wanted for my birthday..
My eldest said of course not! "she wants jewelry" -
the 3 kids slumped their shoulders and started to walk away.
I had an epiphany! What if they were looking at something in me..that I couldn't see in myself? 
What if they were looking at me the way I wanted other people and God and the world to look at me. 
For the first time.. God became the encourager and no longer the judge! 
I went to art school and tackled my art teacher demon....
and the colitis began to calm down and God was with me, for a while!

Years past and my children grew...
I was home alone, fat, depressed, and the under achiever, the colitis creeping back with me. 
I was alone.. a long way from home..
growing older and wondering what the heck I was doing in the States of all places! 
What had I been thinking!  I needed to go home..
I needed new goals I needed to reinvent me...why was I so miserable? 
I decided I was going to lose weight, I started to exercise,  I went on a pilgrimage...alone. 
I took a 6 week hiatus from my life... like Jacob, I ran away. 
I saw people who I hadn't seen in 30 years, I reconsidered my marriage,
I ran down the streets of my childhood and down the beach at Torrox Costa...
I prayed, I waited for the dream. 
I came home sick, lonely, defeated to a family who had changed,
who now appreciated me, who helped and encouraged me...
who showed me why I was where I was at and it was a very good place!
I know.. that ..God is with you in this place!
This is Bethel... This is the dwelling place of God! 
If you are sick in a hospital bed, you are lonely,
if your are not sure how you are going to get through this, God is with you. 
God sees the good things ahead and the turmoil and the upsets and he prepares your heart...

Despite suffering so badly with my colitis and being in poor physical shape most of my life...
I have recently become a kitchen designer and I became a marathoner at age 49,
my husband recently passed his doctorate dissertation and our 3 children will have graduated
with college degrees by 2012.

It's grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved ..
tis grace that bought me safe thus far.. and grace will lead me home.

Through the grace of God...it can get better and better!

Louise Sharrocks

Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)

Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I'm found
Was blind, but now I see
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed
My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy rains
Unending love, Amazing grace

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures

My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy rains
Unending love, Amazing grace

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God, Who called me here below
Will be forever mine
Will be forever mine
You are forever mine


Amazing Grace

Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav'd a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev'd;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believ'd!

Thro' many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promis'd good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call'd me here below,
Will be forever mine.
John Newton, Olney Hymns, 1779