Opening the Door - Lesley Petrone
As a young child I remember loving God. My parents did not go to church, so I went with my friends. Consequently, I attended many denominations including Catholic, Episcopal, Church of Christ, and Baptist. I was about six years old when I heard the verse, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20). I remember wondering, where is the door and how do I open it? When I was thirteen, I “gave my life to Jesus.” Admittedly, I did not know what that meant and unfortunately, I was not helped to understand.
Therefore the Beatles consumed my early years as a teenager and I followed them into drugs, immorality and mysticism. By nineteen, I was totally caught up in the “God is dead--make love not war” drug culture of my generation. When I was twenty one, I met my husband-to-be who was in the military. I was in trouble with the law and pending trial. We were married four days before my trial date. The judge showed me mercy and gave me a suspended sentence.
For the next four years we were stationed around the country. At our first duty station our landlord was into Yoga. The desire to know the truth was still deep inside me, so in an attempt to find it we began practicing meditation and chanting. In the next place we lived, I met once a week for nearly a year with a lady who was a Jehovah Witness. She had no answers for my deep questions. Then my husband met a girl who was into something called “Eckankar” which taught “soul travel.” We began to experiment with it and found that strange things happened.
Then we were sent to Germany where our second child was born. One of my neighbors in the military community where we lived had experienced a life-changing filling of the Spirit after desperately crying out to the Lord. I talked to her about Eckankar. She talked about the Lord in her every day life as if He was real. I wanted what she had, but I was skeptical and my heart was hard from years of sin. One night she and I were talking. She said, “Sometimes I wonder why God has me here.” I knew immediately it was for me, but the years I spent going to church had not helped me experience a personal relationship with Jesus, and so I told her that I didn’t believe He was real. She was wise and unruffled. She asked if I was willing to believe IF He was real and I said yes. She led me to pray, “Jesus make Yourself real to me.”
My neighbor gave me a Bible which I began reading and some Christian music. The words to a particular song especially stood out to me:
I began to understand that “religion” and Jesus were not the same. I had “thrown the baby out with the bath water.” My heart softened and one day I spontaneously prayed, “Lord Jesus, please come in to me and save me.”
Almost audibly I heard a voice in my head say, “I saved you when you were thirteen.” There was the sense of overwhelming joy in me.
I knew without anyone telling me that I should be baptized. The dilemma began when my neighbor wanted me become Catholic and another neighbor tried to convince me to become Mormon. I felt that it was wrong that I had to choose one denomination over another. So as soon as it could be arranged, I was baptized at the non-denominational military chapel.
After the birth of our third child we left military service and moved to Oklahoma where I began to search for where I belonged. For nearly two years, I visited churches without knowing exactly what I was looking for. In hindsight, I would say that I was following a “leading.” I was looking for “the church,” not “a church.” Then it happened. The man who managed the rental house we lived in shared that he was a Christian. I asked him where he went to church and his answer made my spirit leap. He said, “We just meet as Christians.” He gave me a lady’s name and she and I began having fellowship. Then she invited me to a Bible Study on Matthew. To my amazement, the first six weeks covered verses 1-18 on the genealogy of Christ. It was rich and full of spiritual food.
I overflowed to my husband. My enthusiasm was attractive and soon he received the Lord while attending a gospel meeting of the church in Oklahoma City. Since that time Christ and the church have been the joy of our lives. And I finally got the answer to my question concerning Revelation 3:20. Man’s spirit is God’s dwelling place, but He is standing at the door knocking, waiting to be invited in. You can open your door by praying, “Lord Jesus, make yourself real to me.”
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Scripture quoted from The New Testament, Recovery Version © 1985, 1991 Living Stream Ministry. Used by permission.