My Journey Of Grace On Earth: #3

Man Is God’s Handiwork, And So Am I

Man was and still is foremost in the mind of God (Ephesians 1:4). Man was God’s special project! And God made man in the “likeness and image of God,” filled with His Spirit, able of being a child of God, and capable of managing the whole world. How and when did man become disposable and worthless? And when did man become in need of total reconstruction, before God can take him in? It was to the fallen Adam (man) that God entrusted the world. Man’s mistake, in disobeying God, cost man his relationship with God, but not his leadership of the world. It was when the couple did what the serpent, the devil, suggested that evil came into the world. And did the evil spirit prove more powerful than the good spirit in man? This was and still is Satan’s most profound lie! For the will and the spirit, that God has put in man, is more than powerful enough to reject and to resist evil! And that spirit, in man, is also strong enough to choose the good and do what is right! This has been my experience as “a vessel of grace” for over ninety years.  

What Am I to Think of Myself?

I learned that I was no weak earthling! I was given a strong body and mind to endure abuse, the most cruciating pain and suffering created by man and Satan, the evil spirit. I am not a grasshopper, wo is too weak to cope with the difficulties in life (Numbers 13:33). I am not a mysterious being with super powers, as king David believed (Psalm 8:4-6), and I am not merely a disposable refuse of sin as Paul describes in Philippians 3:8. Are my deeds so worthless that they embarrass God and my fellowmen (Ephesians 2:8-9; John 10:34-35)? In response to all this, I marvel why God would grant me ninety years of grace? And why God allows me to be “a vessel of grace” myself for nearly seventy years? God sent His Son to save me, not only my soul, but also my life so I could serve Him (John 3:16).

Before I was twenty-two, I should have died from poison as a baby, drowned at 12; and before I turned fifteen, I was to be run over by the Russian thanks. At the age of twenty-one, in a fire at a large lumber camp, I became a living torch from my knees to my head. I was severely burned and suffered seventy-five percent burns of my body. And to re-enter society, I had twenty operations, which took eighteen months. There, while I was unconscious, God had placed two angels, a German and an Italian, who knew how to stop the fire, secured a doctor, and who took me to the hospital. Can you imagine how many human angels God used to keep me alive? My first blood transfusion, which was through my legs, took the blood of eleven men. Two ministers came to give me my last rite. In fear of death, I swayed back and forth between life and dath, for I was unprepared to face my Maker. I was a believer from the cradle, but I was not a “vessel of grace.” After all, my soul was worth more than the whole world to my Lord (Matthew 16:24-28).

During those days, God’s human angels were doing their very best to keep me alive so that I could be transferred to the burnt-center in Toronto Canada. There, I spent eighteen months with expert human angels. For six months, three nurses were with me round the clock, feeding me like a baby, and soaking me in tubs of water to loosen the scab, which the oil had formed when it was applied to my wounds to kill the pain. This procedure was more painful than the fire itself, but my body was strong enough to endure and recover. Between the skin grafts, I was taken to a rehabilitation place in Malton near Toronto. Today, there is the Toronto International Airport. This was long after the nurses were dismissed, and I could again walk on my own, and I even play shuffleboard with my feet. At this time, I still needed to be dressed, fed, and have visitors who were instructed how to behave, only I had yet to see myself in a mirror. Some people who knew me, before the accident did show up. However, when I saw their faces, it made me wish they had not come. There were two ministers and some of their parishioners, I looked forward to seeing, for they helped me over my hardest time in my life. These ministers also helped map my future, as to how I could become a “vessel of grace.”

Sooner than later, I had to meet the public, which I dreaded. Malton’s Military Barracks became the housing for the restories from injuries. I befriended two German lads with minor injuries. Just for fun, they put me in a wheelbarrow and wheeled me around on the outside lawn. Inside the barracks were twenty and more beds where the injured were served. I still needed help with dressing, feeding, and turning the pages in my German Bible, which I began reading constantly and extensively. Across from were I sat by my bed, using it as a table to lay the Bible so I could read and an attendant frequently came by to turn a page. An older Ukrainian man sat in a chair talking to some of his friends in his native language. And, after he had assessed my condition and look, he sympathetically said, “That German is good for nothing.” Unfortunately, I also felt that way and I knew and spoke his language and felt very hurt by his statement. Nevertheless, we became friends and checker champions. When the bandages were taken off my hands, the specialist had set my fingers in a fixed position, so that I could help myself and again become an independent human being. Both of us marveled how God used a physician to restore me to be again a useful human being. The marvelous burnt specialist was Doctor Farmer, whose skin-grafting saved many soldiers during World War II, as it did me. At the end of eighteen months, I was sent back into the world for a year of healing and exploring, and then I returned to finish my physical reconstruction at Toronto General Hospital. 

I Became A New Man In An Old World

Physically I was reconstructed, and I did manage with twenty-five percent limited use of my hands. My mind did assist me in improvising to make my life more feasible and useful. However, my mind also required reconstruction and that would take years. I was plagued by the teaching that I suffered as an atonement for my sins. My sins were very similar to the sins of the “Young Ruler” in Mark 10:17-22; except, I already had become poor. With the help of my grandmother, and parents, I began to distinguish right from wrong at an early age. If I had neglected or forgotten to obey them, they promised me that God would punish me. I spent many nights in sweat. And when I did go swimming with friends on a Sunday (that was a no, no), and nearly drowned, I did hear my conscience accuse me of violating the Sabbath. I was twelve at the time, and when nine years later, two of us accidentally fell and started the fire, again my conscience reminded me that I had failed to commit my life to the Lord God of my parents. I too was atoning for my mistakes, like the Apostle Paul (Acts 9:15-16). Two ministers, like Ananias, came to  assure me that God loved me, but my conscience could not let go of my guilt feeling.

My parents were common-ordinary people who believed and trusted their preachers and teachers, who, themselves, followed their interpreters and theologians. These leaders turned the Hebrew God into a “Supernatural Being” who was in everything that happened in the world. This God chose certain people as His own and blessed them with prosperity when they obeyed Him; however, that God also punished them when they disobeyed His Laws. Many have been led to believe that the disobedient Jews were replaced with Gentiles (Romans 9-11). Also, these dogma formers believed that they were led by the Spirit of God to arrive at their conclusions. Most of their decisions favored man and pleased them (Matthew 15:1-20). Thus, for nearly forty years I too hid behind this teaching, but my guilt feelings rejected the inconsistency of God as a benevolent being, in charge of a world that is falling apart, just as my life was looking for an answer.

Where Was The Answer That Would Appease My Guilt?

During furlough from surgery, I enrolled in the high school department at the Christian Institute in Edmonton, Alberta to gain qualification for college entrance. On my arrival, a young Christian man looked at me a bit bewildered and said to my face, “If you put on horns, you look like the devil.” I thugged this lesson away quietly. We met for chapel daily, and the Bible students appeared to be full of spirits on predictions. One day I too stood up and opened my mouth and my conscience cried out: “Sit down you liar, I did not tell to talk!” This experience, I also thugged away quietly in embarrassment and humiliation. Otherwise, I did pass my requirements for the high school. However, according to the principal, I did not qualify for College. Thanks to the United College of Winnipeg, a member of the University of Manitoba, who gave this immigrant a chance, and I graduated with a BA from Manitoba University and moved on to study at the North American Baptist Seminary in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Between school breaks, I did return to Toronto and completed my needed surgeries.

Edmonton Became My Spiritual Testing Time

I too belonged to the people World War II stripped of their country, homes, properties, business, and some loved ones. I too lost a brother and a sister. I had come to Canada to find my fortune, but found misery — and a handicaped life. At the time, the Churches in Edmonton were filled with immigrants from my part of the world. And they brought with them their hard losses of the war that had turned them into very ardent religious people. They regarded their psychic and emotional behavior as the movement of God’s Spirit. The minister joined in inviting a fiery evangelist to hold meetings and at least a thousand had emotional moments. I, however, was left “in limbo” and my conscience rejected the idea that all the converts had to do was believe and Christ would take care of all their wrong doing. It was with that “unsettled conscience” that I returned to Winnipeg for the summer, where my parents and siblings had also made their home. 

Winnipeg too was alive with revivalists. My mother had taken in a border, he took me in his little VW to one tent meeting, and I did consult the popular evangelist about my unsettled conscience and all he told me was, “pray.” Prayer did not wash away my guilt. The next Sunday, the border took  me to his Church and he introduced me to a friend. The friend sensed something about me and insisted that we join him for lunch at his home. While we were eating, he gently shared what he had to do to find peace in his conscience and soul. He had to apologize, compensate, and try to make up for the wrong he had done. He did what Jesus said man must do (Luke 12:57-59). I followed this man’s advice and peace came over me that even made me forget that I was injured and handicapped. And I was not the only one that felt the change. This was the kind of person Jesus was looking for in me. 

Man was and still is foremost in the mind of God (Ephesians 1:4). Man was God’s special project, made in the “likeness and image of God,” filled with His Spirit, able of being a child of God, and capable of managing the whole world. How and when did man become disposable and worthless? And when did man become in need of total reconstruction, before God can take him in? It was to the fallen Adam (man) that God entrusted the world. Man’s mistake, in disobeying God, cost him his relationship with God, but not his leadership of the world. It was when the couple did what the serpent, the devil, suggested that evil came into the world. And the evil spirit did prove more powerful than the good spirit in man? This was and this still is Satan’s most profound lie! For the will and the spirit, that God put in man, is more than powerful enough to reject and to resist evil, and it is also strong enough to choose the good and do what is right. This has been my experience as “a vessel of grace” for over ninety years.  

What Am I to Think of Myself?

I learned that I was no weak earthling! I was given a strong body and mind to endure abuse and the most cruciating pain and suffering created by man and Satan, the evil spirit. I am not a grasshopper too weak to cope with the difficulties in life (Numbers 13:33). I am not a mysterious being with super powers as king David believed (Psalm 8:4-6), and I am not merely a disposable refuse of sin as Paul describes in Philippians 3:8. Are my deeds so worthless that they embarrass God and my fellowmen (Ephesians 2:8-9; John 10:34-35)? In response to all this, I marvel why God would grant me ninety years of grace? And why God allows me to be “a vessel of grace myself” for nearly seventy years? God sent his Son to save me, not only my soul, but also my life so I could serve Him (John 3:16).

Before I was twenty-two, I should have died from poison as a baby, drowned at 12; and before I turned fifteen, I was to be run over by the Russian thanks. At the age of twenty-one, I was a living torch from my knees to my head in a fire at a large lumber camp. I was severely burned at seventy-five percent of my body in a fire. And to re-enter society, I had twenty operations, which took eighteen months. There, while I was unconscious, God had placed two angels, a German and an Italian, who knew how to stop the fire, secured a doctor, and who took me to the hospital. Can you imagine how many human angels God used to keep me alive? My first blood transfusion, which was through my legs, took the blood of eleven men. Two ministers came to give me my last rite. I swayed back and forth between life and death in fear, for I was unprepared to face my Maker. I was a believer from the cradle, but I was not a “vessel of grace.” After all, my soul was worth more than the whole world to my Lord (Matthew 16:24-28).

During those days, God’s human angels were doing their very best to keep me alive so that I could be transferred to the burnt-center in Toronto Canada. There, I spent eighteen months with expert human angels. For six months, three nurses were with me round the clock, feeding me like a baby, and soaking me in tubs of water to loosen the scab, which the oil had formed, when it was applied to my wounds to kill the pain. This procedure was more painful than the fire itself, but my body was strong enough to endure and recover. Between the skin grafts, I was taken to a rehabilitation place in Malton near Toronto. Today, there is the Toronto International Airport. This was long after the nurses were dismissed, and I could again walk on my own, and even play shuffleboard with my feet. At this time, I still needed to be dressed, fed, and have visitors who were instructed how to behave, only I had yet to see myself in a mirror. Some people who knew me, before the accident did show up. However, when I saw their faces, it made me wish they had not come. There were two ministers and some of their parishioners, I looked forward to seeing, for they helped me over my hardest time in my life. These ministers also helped map my future, as to how I could become a vessel of grace.

Sooner than later, I had to meet the public, which I dreaded. Malton’s Military Barracks became the housing for the restories from injuries. I befriended two German lads with minor injuries. Just for fun, they put me in a wheelbarrow and wheeled me around on the outside. Inside the barracks were twenty and more beds where the injured were served. I still needed help with dressing, feeding, and turning the pages in my German Bible, which I began reading constantly and extensively. Across from were I sat by my bed, using it as a table to lay the Bible so I could read and an attendant frequently came by to turn a page. An older Ukrainian man sat in a chair talking to some friends in his native language. And, after he had assessed my condition and look, he sympathetically said, “That German is good for nothing.” Unfortunately, I also felt that way and I knew and spoke his language and felt very hurt by his statement. Nevertheless, we became friends and checker champions. When the bandages were taken off my hands, the specialist had set my fingers in a fixed position, so that I could help myself and again become an independent human being. Both of us marveled how God used a physician to restore me to be again a useful human being. The marvelous burnt specialist was Doctor Farmer, whose skin-grafting saved many soldiers during World War II, as it did me. At the end of eighteen months, I was sent back into the world for a year of healing and exploring, and then returned to finish my physical reconstruction at Toronto General Hospital. 

I Became A New Man In An Old World

Physically I was reconstructed, and I did manage with twenty-five percent limited use of my hands. My mind did assist in improvising to make my life more feasible and useful. But, my mind also required reconstruction and that would take years. I was plagued by the teaching that I suffered as an atonement for my sins. My sins were very similar to the sins of the “Young Ruler” in Mark 10:17-22; except, I already had become poor. I began to distinguish right from wrong at an early age with the help of my grandmother, and parents. If I had neglected or forgotten to obey them, they promised me that God would punish me. I spent many nights in sweat. And when I did go swimming with friends on a Sunday (that was a no, no), and nearly drowned, I did hear my conscience accuse me of violating the Sabbath. I was twelve at the time, and when nine years later, two of us accidentally fell and started the fire, again my conscience reminded me that I had failed to commit my life to the Lord God of my parents. I too was atoning for my mistakes, like the Apostle Paul (Acts 9:15-16). Two ministers, like Ananias, came to  assure me that God loved me, but my conscience could not let go of my guilt feeling.

My parents were common-ordinary people who believed and trusted their preachers and teachers, who, themselves, followed their interpreters and theologians. These leaders turned the Hebrew God into a supernatural being who was in everything that happened in the world. This God chose certain people as his own and blessed them with prosperity when they obeyed Him, but He also punished them when they disobeyed His Laws. Many have been led to believe that the disobedient Jews were replaced with Gentiles (Romans 9-11). Also, these dogma formers believed that they were led by the Spirit of God to arrive at their conclusions. Most of their decisions favored man and pleased them (Matthew 15:1-20). Thus, for nearly forty years I too hid behind this teaching, but my guilt feelings rejected the inconsistency of God as a benevolent being, in charge of a world that is falling apart, just as my life was looking for an answer.

Where Was The Answer That Would Appease Guilt?

During furlough from surgery, I enrolled in the high school department at the Christian Institute in Edmonton, Alberta to gain qualification for college entrance. On my arrival, a young Christian man looked at me a bit bewildered and said to my face, “If you put on horns, you look like the devil.” I thugged this lesson away quietly. We met for chapel daily, and the Bible students appeared to be full of spirits on predictions. One day I too stood up and opened my mouth and my conscience cried out: “Sit down you liar, I did not tell to talk!” This experience, I also thugged away quietly in embarrassment and humiliation. Otherwise, I did pass my requirements for the high school. However, according to the principal, I did not qualify for College. Thanks to the United College of Winnipeg, a member of the University of Manitoba, who gave this immigrant a chance, and I graduated with a BA from Manitoba University and moved on to study at the North American Baptist Seminary in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Between school breaks, I did return to Toronto and completed my needed surgeries.

Edmonton Became My Spiritual Testing Time

I too belonged to the people World War II stripped of their country, homes, properties, business, and some loved ones. I too lost a brother and a sister. I had come to Canada to find my fortune, but only found misery — and a handicaped life. At the time, the Churches in Edmonton were filled with immigrants from my part of the world. And they brought with them their hard losses of the war that had turned them into very ardent religious people. They regarded their psychic and emotional behavior as the movement of God’s Spirit. The minister joined in inviting a fiery evangelist to hold meetings and at least a thousand had emotional moments. I, however, was left “in limbo” and my conscience rejected the idea that all the converts had to do was believe and Christ would take care of all their wrong doing. It was with that “unsettled conscience” that I returned to Winnipeg for the summer, where my parents and siblings had also made their home. 

Winnipeg too was alive with revivalists. My mother had taken in a border, he took me in his little VW to one tent meeting, and I did consult the popular evangelist about my unsettled conscience and all he told me was “pray.” Prayer did not wash away my guilt. The next Sunday, the border took  me to his Church and he introduced me to a friend. The friend sensed something about me and insisted that we join him for lunch at his home. While we were eating, he gently shared what he had to do to find peace in his conscience and soul. He had to apologize, compensate, and try to make up for the wrong he had done. He did what Jesus said man must do (Luke 12:57-59). I followed this man’s advice and peace came over me that even made me forget that I was injured and handicapped. And I was not the only one that felt the change. This was the kind of person Jesus was looking for in me.