Deborah Bradley - Cherokee - Part 2 of 2
And I graduated in the top of my high school class, I got a scholarship, I was going to go away to college, and as soon as I graduated, within two or three weeks, I moved away.
I started college that summer, and when I got to college, I didn’t realize how naïve I was. I started drinking myself. I didn’t get involved in the church there. I met friends who drank. I found out what boys were. I’d never even dated, so when I got to college I had no idea, and I was very naïve and fell into a lot of the same sins of my mother, alcohol, men, and I ended up falling into this bottomless, emotional pit of shame and loneliness and lack of direction.
I guess I related more with my mother then than I have ever in my whole entire life.
So in order to escape that, I ran away, and decided I was coming back to North Carolina, but I decided to go to a college. I transferred colleges, thinking I was going to get out of this trap that I had myself in, the alcohol and the men.
I came back and I ended up meeting a Seminole from Florida who had come up, and it just so happened I met him. I ended up marrying very quickly into a relationship. I moved to Florida and found myself in abusive marriage. I had no idea that he was an abusive man until after we were married, and I spent four years of physical and emotional abuse, him telling me how fat and ugly and useless I was, and so, on top of all the baggage I had brought in, I allowed him to pack down even more.
So I ran away again. I decided… by then I was in my mid-twenties, and for four years I stumbled around trying to find purpose, trying to find hope.
During this time I never went back to the church. I never thought I was good enough to go back to church, because I thought I had to be perfect to go, so I stumbled around for four years. Then I met my second husband.
There again I jumped into a relationship, and he turned out to be very cold, very harsh. We’d only been married for a few months, and I found myself falling into even deeper depression, and one night I just cried out to the Lord, ‘If you are really real, help me! I don’t want to die and go to hell.’
Cause that’s all I thought I was going to do because of the choices I made.
This went on for several weeks. By then, I was trying on my own to give up alcohol, and after another night of fighting with my husband, I got down on my knees and said, ‘God, if you are really real, please help me.’
I had moved with my husband up close to his family in Kentucky, and I didn’t know a lot of people, but I did make one friend and she was a Christian.
Through that friend, I began to have a stronger desire, thought, ‘I want to go to church.’ One Sunday I woke up and I got in my car and said, ‘I’m going to go to church.’ And I started driving and I already had an idea of where I was going to go, and I was driving down the road and all of a sudden I ended up at a church I had no intent of going. I went in and, preacher, it was like he was just talking to me, telling me that there was a better way, that there was… that I didn’t have to live like I did, and that God wanted more for me, and I found myself wanting this new life that he was talking about.
I went back to my house and, so I pulled out my Bible and started reading it; it just seemed foreign. I had a hard time understanding that Bible. ‘Who is this God that loves me?’ I heard it all my life, but it just was not making sense to me, and I kept reading. I read John, the book of John, and there was that verse: ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,’ and all of a sudden I was going, ‘Who are you?’ I got down on my knees and I said, ‘Who is this Jesus? Who is this God? Who are you?’ And I cried out to Him and I said, ‘Lord, save me, I need you. My life’s a wreck, I’m a wreck, but if you loved the world and willing to give yourself, then I want to know you.’
And you know I didn’t realize it, but I went from being on my knees to being on my face before God. I was flat on my face, but when I got up and I picked up Bible and I started reading the book of John, ‘In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, the Word was God, He was with God in the beginning and all things were made through Him and nothing was made except through Him.’
And as I continued to read the book of John, and Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through me,’ I began to realize that Jesus is God in the flesh, that all this time I been trying to get to God and God was saying, ‘I already provided you an avenue to me. Just believe.’
And as I began to realize, you know, all of that bitterness and that anger that I had, I began to realize a love, and He filled my heart with such a love. He filled my heart with such joy, and I realized, that’s what it means to be born again.
Now did my problems end, no, see my husband was an agnostic, or he said he was an agnostic. He didn’t believe in God so for the next five years I stayed married to this man, and he became abusive, emotionally and physically because he started watching me as I began to grow, I began to study the Bible, and the Lord did such a… He became Lord of my life. I wanted to live for Him.
I wanted to learn everything that was in that Word because I knew if I read my Bible I’d know more about God, and I would know Him, and I hungered to know Him. I hungered every day… I wanted to be in the Word and be in prayer; I loved talking to Him in prayer.
But as I grew in my relationship as a Christian and with my Jesus, my husband became much more distant and cold and started calling me a Bible thumper. He started calling me a religious fanatic; unfortunately, I ended up having to hear my husband at that time tell me that I had to make a choice between him and God. And I told him there was no choice; 'I live for God now,’ and he walked out and he divorced me.
At the time, I was a nurse; I had actually gotten my degree. I went on and got my master’s degree, but in the meantime, the Lord had no intent for me to live as a divorced woman, because, you see, He was busy working on that husband that was an agnostic, and a year later he came to me and told me that God spoke to him, and he’d given his life to the Lord.
See, I realize that God can change anyone because He changed him, and He changed me.
‘I am the way, the truth and the life,’ that’s what Jesus said. ‘I am the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through me.’ That’s what He says. He says, ‘He’s the way, the truth and the life, and nobody comes to the Father except through Him.’
So what does He mean by that? He means that He was the only one, because He was perfect. He was the perfect person because He’s God. So how can we get to God? Through God, and that’s through Jesus.
It was Jesus who had to shed His blood, because only perfect blood could cover us before a perfect God, and He was willing to do this for us, and Christ came with that purpose and that mission.