'I said, "Lord, I have nothing to give"'
“I was born in Bundaberg, Queensland, 91 years ago. My father was a minister of religion, and we moved every three or four years. But my parents had a great capacity to love, and we were nurtured in prayer and the word of God. We were always talking to our heavenly Father, who was a natural part of our daily lives. God was especially a source of great stability during the turbulent times of World War 2, with ration books, blackout curtains and air raid shelters. Every day we went to school with a Scripture verse in our pocket.
At 19 years old, I began nursing training in a district hospital. I was the only Christian in my year, working long hours and lacking spiritual fellowship. At times I wondered where God was.
In the first month, I was on night duty in a surgical ward full of motor accident victims, in the days before seatbelts and helmets. It was horrible. I went off duty feeling emotionally drained, and thinking, ‘I can’t go back tomorrow.’
I threw myself on my knees and I cried out to God, “Are you real or is it just my parent’s faith? Show me, Lord, I’m sinking in the rapids.”
“Lord, I have nothing to give. I am nobody.”
God came to me in a quietness in my spirit, a peace I hadn’t known before. He gave me a verse from Psalm 42:5, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.”
The Psalm basically says, ‘Put your hope in God!’ That day, I put my hope in God and I found not only a bigger God, more approachable, but also my own identity, which lasted my whole life. It was like I was weaned from my parent’s faith. And ever since then, God has been giving me Psalms.
I’ve had many good years – working as a midwife, meeting my husband (Peter), and being blessed with four children. I was always very involved in Sunday school teaching, leading Bible studies, speaking at church events, and pastoral visiting. I love people and Jesus!
But God doesn’t stand still. One day I said goodbye to Peter as he went to his weekly tennis game. An hour later, I was rung to say Peter was in ICU having had a cardiac arrest. He was not expected to live. I was 59 and we had been planning our retirement – trips away and carefree days. I went to the hospital, and spent three weeks at his bedside, with him semiconscious before God took him home.
I remember the funeral. There were a hundred or more people there. I felt very vulnerable, especially afterwards when everyone was shaking my hand. I was weary and worn out. But that morning God gave me a Psalm. “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)
If God hadn’t been with me, I would have fainted. He was the only thing that got me through.
Afterwards, I had to learn to face life on my own. Again, God’s word became my stability. Every morning, God gave me a new verse from a Psalm to hold on to. They spoke to my soul.
The harder test has come recently. I’m 91 and I can’t do the things I used to do for God. It started when I was 86. I had to give up teaching Sunday school because I couldn’t hear very well. Then I couldn’t speak at church events or lead Bible studies. I couldn’t do pastoral visiting. I felt very empty and unsure of myself. I remember saying to God, “Lord, I have nothing to give. I am nobody.”
I’m looking forward to seeing the Lord!”
I think it had been subconscious spiritual pride before that. But God stripped me of it. He showed me that everything I had was in him. He reassured me that I was his child, at age 86, and he was my Father. I didn’t have to prove myself. He has a deep love for nobodies! Even now, at 91, I can still pray. I can still send cards to people instead of visiting them.
As I look back over my life, I’m humbled to see how long it has taken for me to learn things. But I see the hand of God in every part! And if God takes me home in the night, I’m ready! I’m looking forward to seeing the Lord!”
Judith’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click here for more Faith Stories.