Turning Point

November 14, 2016

Her little daughter’s innocent question caused a sword of guilt to pierce her heart. That was her turning point.

By Ona Mae Worthington

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s a child, I loved the Lord and the Bible. When I was first learning to read, I would lie on the floor with the Bible open in front of me, and sound out the words. I thank God for that early love in my heart, because it was the Word of God that shielded me as I grew up.

While still very young, I became terribly ill. An old country minister was called to come and pray, and the next morning, I was up and playing as normal—the Lord had healed me. Years later I had surgery for something else, and it was discovered that my appendix had burst years before and was now a tiny shriveled mass of tissue. What was thought to have been the flu was actually a ruptured appendix! Another time I was thrown by a horse and was unconscious for days. The Lord was sought in prayer, and He completely healed me.

When I was in high school, I spent many early morning hours in a secluded spot under a tree in our yard, meditating on God and often writing down my thoughts—sometimes in poetry.

Seeking pleasure instead of God

The time came when I got married. Then, shortly before my husband went into the service, our first child—a girl—was born. Later, a son was added to our family. During these years, I began to wander from the faith of my childhood. The truth grew dim, because I allowed a love for the worldly pleasures and possessions of this world to crowd out eternal values.

Our marriage was on shaky ground, and without God, I had no resource to steady me. I became bitter in heart and rebellious against the Gospel.

God was faithful. Amid the clamor of worldly activities, I felt God calling after my heart. This came at a time of conflict and unhappiness in our home. Our marriage was on shaky ground, and without God, I had no resource to steady me. I became bitter in heart and rebellious against the Gospel. Truly I was “on the skids” and nearing the precipice of destruction.

My husband and I had started to drink socially. One night, after some trouble, I went to a cocktail lounge and began drinking. Later that evening, it was with shame that I realized I was unable to steady myself enough to walk properly. On another occasion, after my husband and I had quarreled, I left the house and recklessly drove our car along a winding canyon road, almost daring God to let me take my life—and yet once more I was held back. That same precious Word that had been the guide of my youth, put a fear in my heart. I could not abandon myself to such folly, for I knew that to take one’s own life was a total rejection of God’s mercy and the end would be eternal Hell.

Arriving at a crossroads in life

A turning point came one night when I was in the kitchen pouring wine into some glasses for friends. Our young daughter stood watching the sparkling mixture and asked, “Mother, may I have some?” As I looked into her trusting, upturned face, I felt a sword of guilt pierce my heart. I answered, “No, dear, not until you are older.” As I spoke those words, the sword pierced deeper still. I knew I wanted a different life for my children.

Conviction was so heavy that one day as I was going about my chores, ironing the children’s clothes, tears rolled down my cheeks.

After that incident, I was not the same; God had brought me to a crossroads. From that point, He dealt with my heart continually, and I came under heavy conviction. Over and over the thoughts would come: The destiny of your children is in your hands . . . it all depends on you . . . you must decide. Day after day I continued to count the cost, though down in my heart I wanted to settle it God’s way. Conviction was so heavy that one day as I was going about my chores, ironing the children’s clothes, tears rolled down my cheeks.

During this time, about 1948, I received word from my mother and father that they had visited Portland, Oregon, and found the most wonderful church. They had learned of it when they saw its large sign in the downtown area of the city proclaiming, “Jesus, the Light of the World.” They said God was in that place and we must come and see for ourselves. My soul greatly longed for all of God’s truth, so I prayed about going.

Not too long after that, I heard from my sister, Kay, who was terminally ill with tuberculosis. She had received the same report from Mother and Dad about the Apostolic Faith Church and was told that if she would come, the ministers would pray for her and she could be healed. She went to Portland, the ministers prayed for her, and God instantly healed her of tuberculosis.

My husband and I had moved to Montana, and I had found a church to attend, though it did not satisfy. Several well-meaning members of the congregation began praying for me to receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost. As I knelt and prayed one day to receive it, something in me resisted. I felt confusion and consternation within but did not understand why. I buried my face in my arms and cried out in my distress, “Lord, how shall I pray?” A still, small Voice spoke within, “Pray that I will give you what you need.” In that moment, I acknowledged that what I really needed was salvation.

Peace and love restored

Shortly after that, Kay invited me to attend the upcoming Apostolic Faith camp meeting in Portland with her. We traveled by train with our children, and it was such a happy journey. As we talked together, my heart was filled with joyful expectancy, and the children reflected our happiness.

When we arrived at the campground, I felt a Holy Presence resting there and felt as if I belonged. I thought, surely, this must be what Heaven is like. After one of the services, I went forward and prayed, saying, “God, You promised—our children must have the Truth for their anchor. Please lead me.” He did! Soon after that God restored the peace and love that I had experienced as a child, and I was able to say I was saved.

Then, in a way I cannot explain, God assured me that if I would teach my children to fear and honor Him, He would guard their steps from evil and His purpose would be fulfilled in their lives.

After returning home from the camp meeting, I began to pray fervently for God to move our family to Portland. About this time, my husband found that his job was not what he thought it would be. Also, our son had contracted rheumatic fever, and his doctor informed us that the extreme temperatures of Montana, ranging from very hot to very cold, were not conducive to his recovery. Within a few weeks, we were on our way to Portland. God had answered prayer!

As I prayed and consecrated my all to God, He sanctified me. This wonderful experience was something I had not even heard about until after we moved to Portland.

As our family began attending the Apostolic Faith Church, we sat under the ministry and teachings of godly men and women. Brother George Hughes, an Apostolic Faith missionary to Africa, was one who was such an encouragement to me. He was my Sunday school teacher for a time. During some of the classes, the Spirit of God was so powerful that many went to their knees in prayer before the class was over. It was through this class that a hunger for more of God grew within me.   

As I prayed and consecrated my all to God, He sanctified me. This wonderful experience was something I had not even heard about until after we moved to Portland. Later, God also baptized me with the Holy Ghost.  

God preserved our home, and those two small children have grown up to be a blessing to us. We now have many beautiful grandchildren who are being raised under the sound of the Gospel.

Over the years, I have reflected back to that day of decision and asked myself, “What if I had chosen differently?” At the time, I did not comprehend the magnitude of my decision, but it has been like a tiny trickle from a mountain spring, ever widening through the years, until it will one day merge into the vast river of eternity.

Gratitude fills my heart at each remembrance of that day when I met the Lord at the crossroads of life.

About the author

Mae Worthington was involved in the work of the Lord for many years. Among other activities, she sang in the choir and taught Sunday school.