An 18-Year-Old’s Love Letter
Almost to the day 50 years ago, I wrote the following letter to my sweetheart, who would become my bride and precious wife for the past 48 years. At the time, I was attending college in Marshall, Texas, while she was back home near Houston.
Dear Precious Betty,
I’m coming home to see you this weekend. There is a guy here who’ll give me a ride to Houston, so stay by the phone, and I’ll call to tell you where to pick me up. Oh, how I miss you! But for now, I know it’s God’s will for me to be here because I learn so much and grow spiritually. I can’t wait to hold you in my arms and kiss you.
I went to the woods today as soon as I could get away from class. I told Jesus how much I loved Him and that I wanted to serve Him. I thanked Him for calling me to preach and for giving me boldness. God’s presence saturated the place where I sat, and He seemed to say, “I’ve been waiting for you, James. I love you so much.” I felt as if I could reach up and take Him by the hand and walk with Him. I told Him, “Lord, I want to tell everyone how great You are.”
Betty, God told me something that totally stunned me. He told me He was going to use me to preach His Word to the world. I told Him I couldn’t begin to think in those terms. I just wanted to tell people about Him. Then He said, “Within a year you will be preaching in the largest churches in America.”
I reminded God that I was just a teenager and hadn’t even preached in a church yet. “You will preach in football stadiums and coliseums all over America,” He said. I told Him, “I have only preached one time on a flatbed truck in Pasadena,” but He said, “James, this will happen. I am going to use you.”
I dropped to my knees and told God that He didn’t have to give me a big ministry like that. Then He gave me a vision of what it was going to be like. I saw huge churches, stadiums, and coliseums. I stood before the crowds that filled them, preaching, and when I extended an invitation for people to come and receive Christ, thousands responded and surrounded the platform.
I was so overwhelmed I could hardly take it all in. I told Him, “Jesus, all I care about is just You and me, right here. No matter what happens, if You give me a big ministry or a small one, I promise I’ll always come right back here to You and tell you that I love You and will wait upon You.”
I want to serve God with all I have and see people come to know Christ as Savior and friend.
Love, love, love, forever in Christ, James
Everything God has told me came to pass just as He spoke to me as a teenager in the woods. Within a year I did preach in the largest churches and soon after in stadiums and coliseums. Twenty million people attended those wonderfully-blessed gatherings. To God be the glory for the millions who made commitments to Christ!
I was amazed that a teenager could hear Almighty God so clearly and in such a personal way. Never doubt we can all hear the Father’s voice. You would be blessed to read books on hearing God by Peter Lord, Dallas Willard, and many others. Joyce Meyer has written inspiring articles and books concerning the experience.
For 50 years I have been hearing God very clearly, just as I did when He led me to leave crusade evangelism to go to the mission fields of the world. He told me I would be even more effective as a servant than I had been as a spokesman, but that someday I would again be speaking more frequently to large audiences publicly, through television and in various network programs and interviews.
God told me to sit down in the television studio beside my sweet, quiet, shy wife telling us to invite viewers into the family room to help them get to know the Father and inspire them to become an expression of His heart and an extension of His hands. We have put arms of love around many suffering overlooked people with the help of friends like those who read this commentary and who watch LIFE Today.
Amazingly the outreach and evangelism increased when we went to the mission fields and began supporting evangelistic mission outreaches worldwide. These efforts have helped lead more than 15 million people to make public commitments to Christ. God speaks and He keeps His Word, and yes, we can all hear His voice. Jesus said, “My sheep know My voice.” The Bible is filled with wonderful occasions when very intimate personal conversations between individuals and God took place. This is not something believers can simply read about, it is something we can experience.
In the past few years, I have heard God speak to me very directly concerning our nation and His church. Now is the time to arise and shine allowing His glory and will to be revealed through us. We are to become an answer to Jesus’ prayer becoming one with the Father and perfected in unity with one another so the world will know we are His disciples because of our love.
We are to be light and salt while releasing rivers of living water, bringing forth the fruitfulness that only His supernatural presence and power can make possible. We are to diligently seek common ground to address common concerns, knowing that there will always be some theological differences and these differences must not lead us into unhealthy separation as a spirit of divorce does. No marriage can last if people have to agree perfectly on every point, cross every “t” and dot every “i” exactly the same way. If we will simply understand the importance of keeping the great commandments to love God with all our heart and love our neighbors as ourselves, Paul said, “Herein is all the law fulfilled in a word.”
I am seeking to live in such a way I can help inspire believers to become an answer to Christ’s prayer. As I considered the perilous state of our nation and literally went through all of the major and minor prophets, I saw that in every instance when people forsook God and began to worship idols and violate eternal principles they lost the blessings of fullness, fruitfulness, prosperity, and opportunity.
Search the Scriptures! Every time the people forsook God they witnessed famine, drought, floods, pestilence, and plagues. The prosperity diminished and in many instances was destroyed. The prophets referred to “the predatory beasts of the field and the birds of the air” that came to attack and destroy the living. When the life of God is left out of society, the process of bondage, loss, death, and destruction rapidly sets in. The apostle Paul referred to these negative influences as coming from principalities and powers in the realm of spiritual darkness and deception.
God spoke through His prophets and to those who had ears to hear that if they would repent, return to Him, put Him back in first place, obey His commandments, He would restore the land including the fruitfulness, fullness, abundance, blessings and prosperity. He would send the former and the latter rain, make up for the years the locusts have eaten, promising that the people would again grow grains and vineyards, and experience abundant harvests. All of this represented stability, security, productivity, and every needed blessing. God promises to provide everything needed to individuals and nations whose God is the Lord.
We are facing a terrible economic crisis and challenge in America, but you have not seen anything yet. If we don’t turn back to God and get His divine guidance by hearing His word, you’re going to see a rapid acceleration in the decline and collapse of this once great nation, no longer under God but under judgment.
Now let me share what I heard God say as clearly as anything He has ever spoken to me: if America is going to return to a solid foundation of unshakable, undeniable truth and receive the blessings that God is anxious to pour out on those who trust Him, it is going to require the appropriate response of the following identifiable groups. I will use the political term “coalition”, although what I see is a healthy family coming together in a holy heart-harmony, recognizing that we have one Father and one everlasting, eternal, unshakable faith. When you have that faith and you become that family, you will properly respect and honor with grace and graciousness all those who may disagree regarding faith, but you will not forsake the unshakable absolutely necessary foundation of eternal truth. Nothing sets the Christian witness back more than mean-spirited religion.
Here are the identifiable groups necessary to turn the tide and right this listing ship: everyone who understands the importance of faith, family, and freedom, which includes a healthy free market, always greed-vulnerable, but not greed-dependent. Remember, true freedom is easily abused or neglected. The failure or abuse of any farmer does not negate the potential fruitfulness and productivity a fertile field offers. When we reference the importance of family, we are talking about the biblical nuclear family: husband, wife, and children. We are talking about a marriage relationship between a man and a woman. When we talk about freedom, we are referencing liberty that depends upon people living under control as responsible citizens.
The groups I just mentioned are the ones upon whose shoulders our freedom rests. When I reference a healthy free market, do not for one moment think that I am implying any justification for the greedy, barbaric mentality of those who manipulate people solely for the purpose of their own selfish gain at the expense of others. Nor am I talking about the government picking winners and losers and getting in bed with any corporation or business. Surely you have noticed that the smaller God becomes to people, the bigger government gets.
God made it very clear that those who love their faith, families and our freedom must find common ground to address our legitimate common concerns. We don’t gather around a candidate. We don’t exalt and lift up a party. We lift up truth. We hold up a faithful standard. We point voters, candidates and parties to the absolute unshakable principles upon which every wise family safely builds, and so must nations. This is our call. This is our commission. If we are going to see God Almighty pour out His blessings again on this nation, it will be because we returned to Him individually and as a body of believers which will include people who can be found in the groups I just referenced. Count me in! I believe in the importance of faith, family and freedom and I know Whose shoulders our lives, our futures, and our government must rest.
The last sentence in my love letter written 50 years ago remains the most important for me and every Christian. God’s perfect will and His ways will only be revealed and fulfilled in our lives if He is our first love. Intimacy with Jesus is irreplaceable! Only changed people can change our culture.
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