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Jesus quieted the jury

My testimony Part 1:

One of the last stanzas in the carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem” asks this of the Lord:

O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in,
Be born in us today.” (Phillips Brookes, 1868)

This birth is exactly what happened within me in 1974, four days after Christmas. I want to take a few days to share with you my personal journey to both the manger and the cross. Perhaps my story is somewhat non-traditional; however, as this same carol declares:

No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in

I was raised in a “Christian” family; we were Presbyterian, but the church we attended in the sixties focused more on issues of social relevance than it did the state of our souls. As far as I could tell, everyone went to Heaven if they were good; Hell was likely a really bad state of mind; and the devil was either an allegorical representation of evil or a red-pajama’d fairy tale, believed in only by the weak-minded.

My mom had been raised by a staunch southern Baptist. She and her sisters married intellectual men and shunned the more “primitive” demonstration of Christianity. Whereas Mom and Dad held to the ritual of denominational Protestantism, my aunts and their spouses ran as far away from religion as they could. Grandma was the “black sheep” of the family; we visited her only because we had to; we put up with her praying over the meals only because we had to; we tolerated her “are you saved?” inquiries only because that was part of the whole package of who she was—and the rules said we had to go see her.

I didn’t mind Grandma, though; I secretly admired her persistence in the face of eye-rolling, dismissive behavior, and condescending comments.

At home, however, with Mom and Dad, religion—especially talk of relationship with God (and even worse, with Jesus)—was taboo. If you wanted to see over-the-top discomfort, just drop the J-bomb. Talk of Jesus was fine at church—where it was safe—but you didn’t bring Him into the conversation at home unless you wanted to be branded a religious fanatic like Grandma.

One snowy night late in January of 1972 after a high school basketball game, my date and I planned to go to a party. He took a detour to a park where he showed me two joints that he wanted to share with me. I was game, but told him that they would likely have no effect on me—I’d smoked pot eleven times before without any noticeable results. (Have I ever mentioned that one of my quirks is an OCD tendency to count things?) He assured me that these were different—they were laced with opium.

When we got back to his car after puffing them down to nothing, I said to him, “I told you these would have no effect…” And then my words echoed back at me, again and again.

As he drove to the party, I was in a virtual echo-chamber. I could see nothing but flashes and sparkles. He commented to me as he was driving, “That tree just turned into a pine cone.”

Unconcerned about having a hallucinating chauffeur driving me around the streets of our town, I replied, “Give my regards to its mother.” I was too busy in my echo-chamber to give much thought to safety.

And then a series of hallucinations happened that resulted in a type of “line in the sand” between the Lord and me. First, as I looked out of the big windshield on that dark January night, I saw my mom’s loving face filling a brilliant blue sky. I became terribly convicted, realizing that I was breaking massive rules, potentially hurting her very deeply. Then her face was gone, and I saw the dark expanse of the starry heavens and thought, “God can see me!” so I ducked below the dashboard in an attempt to hide from the Almighty.

What happened next forever changed the way I viewed Jesus. Immediately I was at my trial on Judgment Day (not a popular topic in the particular mainline denominational church I attended). I was about to be sentenced to Hell by a raging jury; they shouted at me with faces filled with fury, pounding their fists. I stood with my head hung down knowing I deserved no mercy. And then Jesus approached. He was robed in white with a gold cord around His waist and radiated a golden liquid love. He first turned to the jury, raised both hands and then lowered them in a gesture of silence. Begrudgingly, the jury quieted as the Lord turned to me.

I will never forget the love I saw in His face as He gazed into my eyes while speaking to the jury. “This is My own dear daughter whom I love very much. She wants to be with Me. I think she will.”

With that, the hallucination/vision faded. I was back in the car, in a vehicle driven by someone who had just smoked the same stuff I had—and I was very aware of the dangerous position I was in. But a deep sense of peace and God’s protection came over me as I said to myself, “I’ll be a Christian someday.”

© 2015, Dorothy Frick, and updated 2017.