My Testimony

This morning, on the 2nd of August, 2022, as I was driving into work, it struck me that I had never written my testimony. If ever I owed anything to anyone, I owe this to Jesus and God’s wondrous grace.

I was born on the 15th of April in 1945. My birth mother was of Ukrainian descent, who lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and my birth father, of Polish descent, who was an American, was undergoing training to be a pilot, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, during the 2nd World War.

The reason I indicated birth mother and father is because I was adopted a few months after I was born, by Florence and Thomas Cooper, hereafter know as my Mom and Dad. My birth mother was single and my birth father had completed his training and gone back to the States. Things were a little tougher for single mothers back then.

As far as I can recall, I was a pretty normal youngster, we were relatively poor, but I never felt deprived. My adoptive Dad was twenty years older than my adoptive mother and he was relatively quiet. He had been born in England and migrated over to Canada when he was in his early twenties. My mother’s maiden name was Campbell and she was born in Winnipeg. This was my adoptive dad’s second marriage in Canada, and my adoptive mom’s first and only marriage.

My Mom and Dad had a daughter after I was adopted, who was a couple of years younger than I was. As I recall, in our youth, we got along pretty well and we were relatively close.

Once in a while my Mom would take us to Church on Easter Sunday, but we never attended Church on a regular basis. I don’t recall God being spoken about at home, but I also don’t recall anything negative being said about God.

When I was in my early teens, some of my friends went to Sunday School and I sometimes went with them. Other times I would go to what I called “big peoples Church” by myself. I remember one Sunday in particular, when I was attending big peoples church by myself, that a sun beam was shining through the window and illuminated the podium where the Minister was speaking from. I was in awe and the thought never crossed my mind that God might not exist. I also remember attending a Sunday School session where the leader asked us why Jesus washed the disciples feet. I thought I was being funny when I responded, “because they were dirty”. I obviously didn’t have a clue.

There was a considerable amount of physical and verbal abuse in our home, dispensed by my Mom. When I was about twelve years old, my mother informed me that I had been adopted and showed me the adoption papers, indicating that no one had wanted me. I can recall indicating to her that I had not asked to be taken in. It hurt when she said that, but I decided to just keep that hurt, hidden away, within. At that time, I knew nothing about my birth mother or father.

My Mom and Dad separated when I was about seventeen and I decided to join the Royal Canadian Navy shortly thereafter. My introduction into the “real” world produced a young man who was primarily focused on women and booze. Once again, I didn’t have a clue.

After my three year contract with the Navy was completed, I got out and decided to join the Royal Canadian Airforce. In those days, if one served in the Royal Canadian Navy, one did not spend much time in our home port of Halifax, Nova Scotia. We were at sea a lot and establishing any kind of a meaningful relationship with those of the opposite sex, in Halifax, was difficult because we were seldom at “home”. Upon joining the Royal Canadian Air Force, my pursuits remained the same and eventually it caught up with me, when I was to posted to Canadian Forces Base Rockcliffe, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

The pursuit of women produced emptiness and my need for booze became problematic in that I could not sleep at night unless I had a good ten or twelve shots of hard liquor under my belt.

One day I sat on the steps of my barracks and I said a prayer to God. By this time I did not know if He existed, so I indicated that in my prayer, and I asked God to show Himself to me, if He was real. Since this time, I have learned that many have said the very same prayer that I did, back then.

The very next day, as I sat on those same steps, a young man named John Stennett sat down beside me and we ended up talking about God. Wouldn’t you know that John, who was a Corporal at the time, and a Master Warrant Officer (Bruce Pringle) ran a Young Peoples Christian group through the local Protestant Chapel, on the base.

For the next year or so, I was exposed to my first real close contact with Christians and Christianity. I could write a book on what transpired there, but the short story was that I was delivered from my need for alcohol and I witnessed the reality of faith in Jesus, lived out in these Christians lives. I was truly blessed, but I didn’t realize it at the time. I considered myself a Christian, but once again, I didn’t really have a clue.

My next post was to CFS Shelburne, in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, Canada. CFS Shelburne was quite a place to be posted to because there were a lot of young female military personnel posted there. I went there with good intentions, but things didn’t work out as I thought they would. In spite of my good intentions, I slowly degraded back to much of my former lifestyle. I could write another book about Shelburne, but the short story is that although I never totally walked away from God, I surely ignored Him and tried His patience with me, multiple times.

I got married to Peggy, (52+ years and counting), just before I was posted from Shelburne. I could write another book about this young woman who I honestly loved. We had initially met when I was in the Navy and we dated on and off for almost eight years. Peg was different, a real challenge, and like none other that I had ever met. And, much like before, entering marriage, I didn’t have a clue.

Two more posts came along after Shelburne, one to St. John’s, Newfoundland and another to Debert, Nova Scotia. When we left Debert, we had three children and Peg was pregnant with our twins, Nicholas and Rebecca. My trade in the military necessitated that I transfer from the Royal Canadian Air Force to the Army, and I complied.

I had gotten back into trying to follow Jesus after getting married and I could write another book about what transpired in St. John’s and Debert. Bible Studies in our home and many other church activities and responsibilities became the norm. But I ran into a problem, and that problem was me.

I slowly came to the realization that I could actually love someone, who was my wife and our children, and yet destroy that which I loved. That would be where my needs and wants over rode their needs and wants. And that realization stopped me in my tracks. Coupled with this realization that I could not ignore, was the realization that Jesus needed to be the Lord in my life, and not me. This is and was the hardest lesson that I have ever needed to learn. But the reality of accepting this realization is literally life changing. Problem being, it took me quite a while to fully grasp this realization. That would be me, not having a clue, again.

I’m still working on getting rid of all of my needs and wants. But the strangest thing happens when you actually focus on what God would have you focus on and do. Those needs and wants that I have, were met beyond my expectations. And coupled with this beautiful reality is the beauty and adoration that one gains in our walk with Jesus.

I have many stories and lessons that God has shown me alone this jagged way that I have walked, but the greatest wonder of this walk, is with Jesus Himself. I love my wife with all of my heart, but I also love Jesus with all of my heart. And if my wife dies before I do, I honestly don’t know how I will manage, but Jesus will sustain me, beyond that which I am capable of, because nothing is greater that His love and His caring for us. Absolutely Nothing.

I THINK I will be broken if my wife dies before I do, but I KNOW that I could not exist without Jesus. I can’t explain it in words but I know it in the core of my being. Somewhere during this journey that I have been on, my wife and I have become one, just like Jesus and I have become one and that realization is a gift. This is the clue or understanding, that I was missing, throughout much of my adult life.

My testimony is this. God’s grace exceeds our expectations, but you have to trust Him, really trust Him, to experience His grace. That means trusting in the accomplished work of His Son, Jesus, who encapsulates or is the express image of, all of God’s ways and all of God’s thoughts, in order to receive and taste of His reality.

That old hymn which states “trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus” is literally and actually true.

God’s grace, God’s patience, God’s wisdom, God’s forgiveness, God’s goodness, God’s love, is available to all who will receive it. For such is the nature of our God. And all of God, without measure, is available through Jesus, His only begotten Son. Jesus told us that he or she who has seen Me, has seen the Father. That’s pretty heavy, but it’s true.

And it isn’t about us, although we are the desired recipient of God’s love, it truly is about Jesus.

Jesus also tells us to “learn from Me” and by doing so, we shall find rest for our souls (Matthew 11:29-30 NASB). That “learning from Jesus” is what in truth, it is all about.

Worthy is the Lamb. Blessings!