In honor of what would be my late husband, C. J.’s, 76th birthday today, I am sharing his wonderful Testimony. My children and I miss him so much every day in every way!
My life has been truly blessed and success has come easily. Unlike many ‘born again’ Christians, I did not go through drugs, running around on my wife, criminal connections, or cheating in business. I considered myself always a basically good person. I was born into a Catholic family and attended church every Sunday, followed The 10 Commandments as best I could and generally felt a strong ‘thou shalt not’ admonition about life. I enjoyed some of the ritual of my religious upbringing, but no real joy. Nonetheless, I was brought up by good moral parents who taught me important values.
I cruised through high school and college, achieving success very easily. I spent two years in the Peace Corps, was recognized as the model volunteer, and came back to breeze through graduate school in nine months ready for the real world. I got married during graduate school and very shortly after was blessed with a beautiful daughter. It was about this time in my life I began to experience a certain emptiness and great void in my life.
While my work with a governmental agency was going well, I was not very happy at home. I blamed my wife in part and the fact we weren’t ready to be married. I expected marriage and family to be the answer to my emptiness, but was sadly disappointed.
In 1975 I had the opportunity to become City Manager of Addison, Texas, a tiny 4-5 square mile, city North of Dallas, known mostly for an airport and indictments of public officials. Everyone said I was a fool to take this job, but I had been ‘lucky’ (I called it) in the past, so I was willing to gamble. Today without doubt, Addison is the finest city to be manager of in the country. With a very hefty business tax base, a politically stable and wealthy community, and the freedom to be creative as a manager, Addison was a true gem to go with all my other successes.
"However, all of the success, notoriety, and financial rewards did not fill the void I had. I was divorced in January 1977 and quickly got into the fast lane of a very social single life in Dallas. I knew the club scene was dull real quick, but I didn’t know what else to do. I searched for the woman who would make me eternally happy and would give me meaning. I did not want to hurt anyone or be hurt myself, but I knew I had to keep searching for this woman."
I went into group and individual psychology believing there might be an answer there. I read everything I could find in the way of self-help books. In the spring of 1980, I met my wife, Irene. On the surface she seemed perfect…tall, beautiful, athletic, an artist who wanted children, and a close family. In a few months we were madly in love and were talking marriage.
By the fall, we decided to live together to see if marriage was what we really wanted. Very shortly afterwards we became engaged. However, for the next 18 months we fought and seemed to be incapable of going more than a few days without some kind of argument. We were truly in love and willing to hang in, but somehow there was something blocking true commitment. I refused to get married until I was sure; until I felt it was right. I was not totally fulfilled and somehow expected this.
Fortunately, God began sending to us a whole host of messengers in the form of close friends, many who were new Christians. We began to see all kinds of new changes around us amongst our friend and eventually we began reaching out to learn more. In late February 1982 we began attending church regularly. It was a warm and friendly church who believed very sincerely in the Word of God. Despite going to church and Sunday school, Irene and I were not really getting closer together.
Irene began to be convicted about how she should live her life and soon asked for us to end our sex life. She couldn’t say exactly why and wasn’t demanding about it, but she felt it was wrong. I had some thoughts she was using sex to force me into marriage, but I did not try to get her to change her position. Somehow even when she was weak, I knew she was right.
The day after Easter, Irene accepted Christ. Very quietly Irene prayed, “Lord, I trust in you and will turn my life over to you. If your will is for C.J. and I to be married, I know you will bring it about. If not, I will accept your decision.” She also became convicted we should not be living together. She was at peace with our relationship for the first time. It was God’s plan.
Unaware of Irene’s change, I came home later and requested she move out. I thought I needed space and time to think. I was not sure whether this was the slow way out of our engagement or possible the breather we might need. I knew we were in for a fight this very night. I probably felt when she got angry and bitter, I would feel justified in my decision to move her out. Instead she said she thought was probably the best thing and would move out the next day. I knew something was different!
Five days later I attended a prayer breakfast at which a close friend of mine spoke. He told of his own experiences and because he and I were such close friends, many of his experiences directly touched me. Later in the day I went home to work in my garden. As I worked I reflected about my life and how I wanted so much to be married, have children and a very content life. I thought about the fact I was on the verge of throwing away the last two years of working on these goals. I thought about the time and money we had spent on counseling. I said to myself, “I have tried everything!” and suddenly I realized there was one thing I had never tried. I had never turned my life over to God!
I knelt down and cried right there in my garden. I didn’t know what to say, but I had heard my Christian friends say something about asking Jesus to come into your life. So I prayed, “Jesus, please come into my heart. I am ready to accept you.”
I do not know how long I was on my knees, but when I got up I knew something very important had happened to me. I told myself, however, I somehow did not deserve to be saved so easily. My life had always been too easy and I was sure God was not going to open His Kingdom so easily for me. For the next week I clung to the same belief and felt like a war was going on inside of me. I began debating Irene and some of my Christian friends about various philosophical principles. I realized shortly though to understand the teaching the Word of God it would take my lifetime. But my acceptance of Christ was the first step to understanding.
An amazing thing began to emerge. Irene did not seem to be nearly so angry. She was more gentle and understanding. We spent four or five hours one night vigorously discussing what the Bible said without either of us getting upset. She saw me all of a sudden more caring. I would call her during the day and leave her messages. I was more concerned about her feelings. I recognized the changes in myself and asked a Christian friend about them. He, in turn, asked me an important question. He asked, “Have you decided to be more loving towards Irene? Are you trying to be more loving?” I had to admit I was not trying nor had I decided. God had reached into me and was changing my heart. It was a changed I had tried to create for 12 years without success. He had done it in no time at all.
For the 18 months Irene and I had lived together, I never felt right about marriage. I knew I loved her, but was not totally fulfilled. Now suddenly there was no question, no doubts, and no thought of turning back. I had found the answer to my void. I no longer had to demand for Irene be the answer. Instead, we were free to walk our live together in God’s grace. We do not know what God has in store for our family. We trust in Him and believe His miracles.
I pray my testimony in some way can be of help to others. The biggest struggle most people I know go through is with their marriage. I believe our requiring our partner to be the answer to our void stands as the major obstacle to marital happiness. By accepting Christ, we have made Him the center of our lives. Not only are our lives properly in focus now, but He began changing our hearts to enable us to truly enjoy the fruits of marriage.
I believe very firmly our decision as new Christians to end our sexual activity and living together relationship until after marriage was truly a commitment to Christ. I do not believe our walk would have been nearly so easy or rapid had we continued to violate God’s law. The giving up of the desires of the flesh was really very easy once we trusted in God. I believe this aspect of our experience can be truly instructive to our many single friends who presume sex to be a symbol of love.
As one who was a non-believer for so long, I know how mystical and confusing the whole ‘born again’ experience can be. As one who has now turned his life over to Christ, I am excited by what is happening to me and I pray I can spread this joy to my friends. Having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ unlocks the door to His treasures of life. In His Service, C. J. Webster