In my heart of hearts, where so few of us ever really like to go, and where only God sees, I once made fun of people who claimed to be "called" to do specific things "for God."
I analyzed, judged and was riddled with doubt and unbelief regarding such "callings."
Then, around 1984, I actually began to sense a "calling." For two long and miserable years I fought it, denied it, and ran hard from it. The further I ran, the more miserable I, and everybody around me, became. Eventually, I lost my "peace" - the one thing I value most in my life!
Finally, I obeyed. In September, 1986, I resigned from my nursing position, spent one month praying and meditating, and then I started writing. My peace returned.
During those two years of rebellion and denial, I discovered Don Francisco. I was in Zondervan's at Southlake Mall. I had picked out three albums to purchase when the sales clerk said, "Ma'am, you get a fourth album free when you buy three."
I returned to the music section and there I discovered this long-haired, hippy-looking, guitar-holding fellow on the front of an album entitled "Don Francisco, The Live Concert." It became my freebie.
It also became my lifeline during those two years of unrest. Throughout that period of rebellion I never lost sight of how much God loved me - no matter what! I owe that to the fact that Don Francisco had answered a "call" a few years earlier to sing the kind of music that sustained me during that spiritually miserable time.
I literally wore out the records (it was a two record album). Over the years, I have tried to find Don on the internet -- to no avail. Each time I ran a search, a Don Francisco would appear, but it was not my Don Francisco.
Finally, a few weeks ago, in a moment of desperation because I was so hungry to hear his music again, I googled a couple of lines from one ofhis songs that kept coming to my mind. Suddenly I found him at www.rockymountainministries.org.
I will never be able to fully describe the elation that erupted in me as I clicked on the jukebox at the site and his music started to pour through my computer speakers and into every chamber of my hungry heart.
I told my friend, David, about the music and he checked out the site. A couple of days later, for my birthday, he gave me a card and money and told me to order some CDs, adding that he had never heard me sound so happy as I did the evening I rediscovered Don (except maybe once when I was playing in the snow with my granddaughter).
For the record, my rediscovery came on a night when I thought I would scream if I could not once more hear all the words to "Jesus is Lord of the way that I feel."
To all of you who keep asking when I am going to write my column again, please know that I make NO promises with this one, but there is more hope now.
So much of what I have experienced over the past year and half simply has not belonged in a column. It has been too private and far too painful. I have felt like I would betray too many other people if I wrote "from my heart."
I never stopped writing, however. I have been working on some books and other things. As you all know by now, there is no other way for ME to write, speak or give one of my workshops, except from my heart. And no writing venue has ever demanded more heartfelt openness, honesty and vulnerability than has this column in the 20-plus years I have been writing it.
Please know that at no point in time have I been unwilling to be vulnerable; I just have not had permission to cause others to feel that way ...
I received nearly two dozen Don Francisco CDs in the mail last Monday, thanks to David! He is like a member of my family now, a joy and a blessing to me like I never could have imagined him becoming, especially in light of the horrific tragedy that brought us together 18 months ago.
Next week, I will try to tell you about the book, "The Shack," by William R. Young, another gift from David that has influenced me and blessed my life tremendously.
Mary Jane Holt, an avid reader, book lover and spiritual thinker, writes an occasional column for the weekend edition of the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald. You can visit her at: www.maryjaneholt.com.