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From Passion to Peace:


God's Grace in My Life
By Esther Morris
My life before accepting Jesus:

I was born into a loving Christian home with parents who early sought to instill within me the

love of the Savior. When I was exactly a week old, my parents took me to church and my grandfather

(being a pastor) dedicated me to the Lord. Jesus always played a prominent role in my younger years.

As a baby, my mother sang scripture songs and hymns, rather than traditional lullabies. My parents

read me Bible stories, took me to church every single week, and before I can consciously remember, I

knew Bible verses by memory.

Despite my parent's careful training, I was a very strong-willed child. Being extremely

independent and rebellious by the early age of two, I began a sequence of temper tantrums that lasted

nearly into my teens. My mother spent hours studying the Bible, counseling with godly mothers &

grandmothers, and praying for me. Often, she honestly did not know how to discipline me. An

experience that I still vividly remember happened when I was two and a half. I had thrown another

temper tantrum and my mother decided to take me on what she termed a “grizzly run” out in nature. As

we dragged along, I stumbled across a nice white ribbon with little red hearts on it. Suddenly my tears

disappeared as I examined my new treasure. Mother pointed out the little hearts and told me that they

would help remind me that Jesus loved me. On our happier homeward journey, I somehow dropped the

little ribbon. The tears returned as I began searching for it, but I adamantly refused mother's suggestion

to pray that Jesus would help me find it. I was determined to find it on my own! Mother remembers
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back and says she began praying that I would find it, but then realized that if I found it on my own, it

would only confirm my stubbornness to live without God. Instead she prayed that I would not find it

until after I surrendered my will to God. After a long time of searching, God finally softened my heart,

and with my mother, I prayed that I would find it. Shortly thereafter, the ribbon was found. Many

experiences like these helped confirm in my mind Jesus' deep interest in me.

Sadly, as often as I saw God's working in my life, I rejected Him. My parents encouraged me to

have personal devotions but I either gave an outright refusal, or tricked them into thinking that I was

studying my Bible when I was really reading a storybook. But neither my parents nor God would give

up on me. During one particularly intense tantrum, my mother calmed me down enough to read the

story of Peter's betrayal of Jesus and of Paul's experience of kicking against the pricks. She shared how

both of these apostles had been very strong-willed and bad, but that by the power of God, they had

become two of the strongest leaders in God's work. She shared how she believed that someday God

would use my stubbornness for His work, ---someday I would be a missionary and gospel worker.

From that time onward, even in the midst of my rebellious outbursts, I knew that God had a plan for

me.

When I was twelve, my parents sent me to Young Disciple Camp, a youth Bible camp. It was

here that for the first time I made a decision for Christ. I met friends who also loved Jesus and they

encouraged me to have morning devotions, which I did. The worship talks were rich in Bible truth and

I grew a lot in my understanding of Jesus. However when the happy week ended, I left my new

experience behind. I despised my parent's interest in learning whether the camp had made an impact on

my spiritual life. I genuinely wanted to make a firm decision for Christ, but my stubbornness and pride

held me back---I didn't want my parents to think they could in any way influence me to give my heart

to Christ.
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I asserted my defiance by declaring I didn't want to do a Bible class in my homeschool

curriculum. Along with this, I despised geography and history classes and nearly succeeded in

dispensing with these. Despite the battles at home, I tried to hide behind a legalistic curtain when

around my friends. They probably never knew about my struggles. I still loved going to church, albeit

only for the social stimulation. It was also during this time that I overheard my family discussing

whether I would want to be baptized soon. Knowing that it was expected of me, and wanting to “look

good”, I requested baptism, but regretfully, it didn't mean much to me.

Though seemingly happy on the outside, my life without the Saviour was lonely. Amongst my

peers I often felt unaccepted. I was dominant and bossy. They didn't like this and often tried to find

ways to avoid me. I spent many hours crying, often wondering what would happen if I died. Would

anyone care? More than once I experimented with ending my life in the bathtub, but would come up for

air, remembering how much my parents loved me. I knew they cared. Deep down, I knew Jesus cared

too.

When I was fourteen years old, one of my friends mentioned she was going colporteuring for

the summer. Curious, I asked her more about it. She explained that it was like a summer camp where

you go for ten weeks to sell Christian books door-to-door with a group of young people. It sounded fun

to me. I wanted an opportunity to be away from home and to be with friends, however I doubted my

parents would ever consider letting me go. Was I ever surprised when, after much prayer and

consideration, they said yes!

During that eventful summer I began to recognize my need for help,---the need for the Saviour.

I learned to prayerfully petition His help in His work. He made me enjoy the work of reaching out to

others who didn't know His peace. I still remember praying with someone to whom I had sold a book.

Tears came to her eyes as she thanked me for bringing hope. It made me excited to see others happy in
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the joy of the Lord and little by little I began to accept Him in my life too. Later, when a fellow

colporteur challenged my stand on modesty, I remembered back to my mother's prediction that my

stubbornness would be used in standing for the right. I realized then that my parent's religion wasn't

going to do me any good. It was time to decide for myself.

My decision for Jesus:

Though it didn't happen all at once, I would count my conversion experience to be during that

first summer of colporteuring in 2004. I remember a fellow colporteur sharing John 15:4, Abide in me,

and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye

abide in me. This friend emphasized that the work of colporteuring could not be done on my own, but

was dependent upon God. I wanted to sell books well, and was tired of my sales being determined by

my emotions. (13 books one day, 3 the next, 22 followed by 4!) I recognized Jesus as my Saviour and

began seeking after the fruits of the spirit. My devotional life began to blossom as I took these baby

steps and began drinking the “milk of the word”. However, it wasn't at this time that I learned diligence

in study or consistency in my experience. I desired it, but wasn't sure where to start.

Because I still failed to study the Bible beyond easy reading devotionals, I waffled on important

points of faith. During my second summer of colporteuring, I had an experience that seriously shook

my faith. Though I still loved Jesus very much, I questioned my understanding of the Bible. I became

ashamed of the Bible truths that I believed in. I began reading many confusing things on the Internet

and listening to people with questionable theology. I was searching for stability, for answers to Bible

questions, but I definitely was not looking in the right places!

Because of my confusion, I made up my mind not to go colporteuring again. It was hard to sell

books that I hardly believed in. However, I really wanted to do what was right. Colporteuring had

brought me to an understanding of Jesus and while doing it, I always felt closer to Him. So through the
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counsel of several godly people, God led me to go colporteuring a third summer, this time to a program

under different leadership.

Kristina, the head leader of that program (and also my cousin), took a loving interest in me. She

spent hours talking with me and sharing her own testimony. During her worship talks, she focused on

teaching the basics of faith and I began to see that much of the failure in my Christian walk was due to

a feelings-based religion. I began learning to base my faith on the Word of God. Christianity suddenly

held more purpose. Even my colporteur sales showed a marked increase and consistency as I gained

confidence in the books and truths I was presenting.

It didn't take too much convincing on Kristina's part to recruit me for the college where she had

learned much of what she shared. When I arrived at Ouachita Hills College, I was challenged by work

and classes that went exactly against all that I had always disliked. I enrolled in Bible classes---the first

since I was thirteen years old. I found a new perspective on history, the history of how God led his

people, and loved it! I even shed my dislike of maps (geography) as I realized it was an important part

of colporteur leadership! All that I hated became my major. Surely God had fulfilled His promise; A

new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of

your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26 Faith found a firm foundation on which to

build, and from this time onward, I began to learn a consistency in Bible study that I had not

experienced before. At the end of my first semester of college I chose to be rebaptized and what a

precious experience that was!

Since accepting Jesus:

God's refining fire has continued to work in my life ever since. There is much in my character

that the Master wants to refine. Sometimes it hurts, but it always heals. The changes He makes are

always best, and I would like to share just a few of them.


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For my fourth summer of colporteuring, I chose a program in Rochester, NY. However, I

bruised a spur on my heel and got laryngitis shortly before the program, making it painful and almost

impossible to canvass. There were issues with fellow students and misunderstandings with the leaders.

On top of that, the people in New York were tough to sell to. . . Was I where God wanted me? Had God

led me there to painfully hobble and hoarsely whisper door-to-door to sell only a few cookbooks? It

was in the midst of my discouragement that God led me to a precious promise which has since become

my favorite Bible verse, “For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I

set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.” Isaiah 50:7 God taught me that in His work,

there's no looking back, no second-guessing His leading. He did send healing so I could walk and talk,

I learned how to reach the hearts of secular people so I sold more books, and even the

misunderstandings between me and my fellow workers were smoothed out. But I think the best news

was something I didn't find out until much later: As a direct result of our colporteur labors there in the

city of Rochester, sixty precious souls chose to be baptized!

I mentioned that during childhood, my friends regarded me as bossy and dominant. This was

one character trait that kept me from having close friendships with nearly everyone. I hated my

reputation, but it was so deeply engraved in my character! How could I overcome it? I began praying

that God would change my heart; I asked Him to change this trait so it could be used in godly

leadership instead of pushing my peers away. The change didn't happen immediately, nor do I consider

the battle completely through, but patiently God has been teaching me how to speak a word in season,

rather than blurt out what I think should be done. My relationships with friends have strengthened as

I've learned to allow them room to grow. I have many close friends now and this is one fruit of

conversion for which I am especially thankful.

Something that has often plagued me is depression. I easily get discouraged and despondent. I
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tend to look on the negative side of things. But then I read this: “If you will seek the Lord and be converted
every day; if you will of your own spiritual choice be free and joyous in God; if with gladsome consent of heart to His

gracious call, you come wearing the yoke of Christ,--the yoke of obedience and service,--all your murmurings will be

stilled, all your difficulties will be removed, all the perplexing problems that now confront you will be solved.”

Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 150. I decided to put the promises of God to the test---to learn to

talk and act as if my faith were invincible. During the past months, I have been learning to apply this

principle to my life by speaking only positive words and drowning negative thoughts in song and

prayer. Since making this decision, not once have I gotten depressed. No, the circumstances

surrounding me have not changed, but by God's grace I have!

Another important step to a closer walk with God was made while grieving the death of a close

friend, Luke Privett. His tragic death came as a sudden and unexpected blow; he died instantly in a car

accident. There was, however, no doubt in my mind that he was ready to go. The question for me was,

am I? Am I daily searching my heart and pleading for a closer walk with God? Or am I content to live

by yesterday's spiritual blessings? I saw that the title of Laodicean* fit me. There were still things in my

life that I was allowing between me and God. Through His strength, God helped me cut ties that held

me back. When the victory was made, peace and joy like none other filled my heart. My prayer life

grew and my devotional experience became more fulfilling. I think of this quote, “Every victory gained is

a gem in the crown of life.” My heart thrills to realize that by taking Christ's power in resisting temptation,

I am preparing for the heavenly land. As I press forward with Christ, I pray my crown will be filled

with many more such jewels.

Your turn:

Dear Reader, I simply share my testimony as a witness to God's power and grace in changing a

* Term derived from the story of the Laodicean church in Revelation 3 where church had become cold to the gospel.
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sinful girl into a servant for Him. I have recounted the blessings in my life--- how He changed my

violent passion into submission, defiance into peace, depression into joy, despondency into purpose.

He's given me victory and He wants to do the very same thing for you!

God's plan was never for us to live in sin. His word says in Ephesians 1:4, “He hath chosen us in

him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” Sadly, just

like me when as a 2 year old defiantly refusing Jesus' help in finding the ribbon, we have blindly

rejected the perfect plan God has for us. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory

of God.” Adam and Eve, the human race, more specifically, you and me, have failed to live up to God's

ideal. We have been doomed to a life of misery and death. But we have hope, “For God so loved the world,
that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16 God sent us Jesus, and through Him we may have life! And not just life, but He says, “I am

come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 I will say from

experience, that life “more abundantly” is better than anything your peers, the world, or the devil can

offer.

The path to peace and purity is simple. Jesus doesn't require us to do anything before coming,

we must only come! He says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the

door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20 He will teach us to hate our

sin, and as we confess our sins He is “faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all

unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 We can then be confident that “He which hath begun a good work in you will

perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 Do you want Jesus to perform that good work in

you, making you ready for heaven, when He shall say, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom

prepared for you from the foundation of the world!” Matthew 25:34 I do!

I invite you to pray the simple prayer of faith and experience the blessings God wants to give
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you:

Forgive me “Jesus I ask You to forgive me of my sins”


Accept my confession “Please accept my confession that I am a sinner worthy of death.”
I give my life “I now give my life completely to You.”
Thank you “Thank-you for the free gift of salvation that is now mine by faith in Jesus' death and life.”
Help me to walk in Your ways “Now help me to walk in Your ways by Your grace and power.”

Whether you've already begun this path or have long resisted Jesus' appeals, I encourage you to

commit your life to Jesus. The school of Christ gives the greatest joy. It gives the greatest purpose. It

contains the greatest love. Don't wait, come just as you are.