One Breath Away from Eternity

October 19, 2020

I rebelled at what my parents taught me, but God knew how to get my attention.

By Edna Janzen

This article was originally published in the March 1984 edition of this magazine.

Just one breath between me and eternity! Of course, that is all any of us have at any time, but it was brought forcibly to my attention when I was fifteen years old and very ill. My throat was so badly swollen I could hardly breathe. I was painfully conscious of every breath I drew.

I had been brought up in a good home where my parents loved the Lord, each other, and their children. They did all they could for us in a physical sense, and were very much concerned about our spiritual welfare. My father had been a Christian from his teens, and his chief aim in life was to draw closer to the Lord. After he married, he and my mother moved from Kansas to Colorado. There my dad met some people preaching holiness, and embracing their teachings, he was sanctified. Then in 1909, a former employer started a flourmill in Sheridan, Oregon, and invited my dad to come and work for him, so my parents moved to Oregon.

My mother had tuberculosis, and had lost four babies at birth. The doctors offered no hope for her recovery. It had been a discouraging time in their lives. Then the Apostolic Faith people, who had started a church in Dallas, Oregon, held a series of meetings in a city park in Sheridan, and my father attended those meetings.

In Oregon, God performed many miracles in our home. My mother had tuberculosis, and had lost four babies at birth. The doctors offered no hope for her recovery. It had been a discouraging time in their lives. Then the Apostolic Faith people, who had started a church in Dallas, Oregon, held a series of meetings in a city park in Sheridan, and my father attended those meetings for three weeks. He asked the Gospel workers, “Do you think there is any hope for my wife?” They answered, “Yes. You bring her here and we will pray for her and the Lord will heal her.” And that was what happened. Later, she told many times in testimony that they had prayed for her according to the fifth chapter of James, and the power of God had gone through her like an electric shock. She left that place saying, “I’m healed! I’m healed!” And she was. She was twenty-five years old at the time and lived to be eight-one, never again having any trouble with her lungs. She brought up a family of four children, of whom I was the oldest.

Another miracle took place when my father went to work in a lumber mill. One day, he was in an accident and was crushed under a load of lumber. He was taken to a hospital in great pain with little hope of his recovery. The newspaper even reported that he had been killed in the accident. However, many people were praying for him, and in two weeks he was out of the hospital, and in six weeks, he was back on the job.

Some years later my father became disappointed with the church they were attending, and prayed for the Lord’s guidance in what he should do. One day he felt the Lord speak to him to go to a camp meeting that the Apostolic Faith people were holding in Portland, Oregon. He went and thought the camp meeting was wonderful. It was just what he had been looking for, and from then on my parents worshipped with the Apostolic Faith people. They bought a 1913 Ford and began driving to Dallas to attend church. There my father received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and my mother, who was saved at home after the visit to Portland, was sanctified and baptized with the Holy Ghost.

I was a good student, at the head of my class in school, and read many books. In fact, I began reading things that put doubts into my mind as to the truth of the Bible and the fundamental truths I had learned. Sadly, I got to where I refused to go to church. Then came that severe sick spell when I was fifteen years old.

We had a happy, secure family life. All our problems were taken to the Lord in prayer, and He always provided for us. I should have appreciated all that the Lord did for us and served Him, too. Instead, I rebelled against what my parents taught me. I was a good student, at the head of my class in school, and read many books. In fact, I began reading things that put doubts into my mind as to the truth of the Bible and the fundamental truths I had learned. Sadly, I got to where I refused to go to church. Then came that severe sick spell when I was fifteen years old. My mother asked the people at church to pray for me. She said, “Edna is in a dying condition and is not ready to meet the Lord.” I knew if I died, I would go to Hell. I can still remember that feeling, but I presumed on the mercy of God and thought surely He would not let me die in that way. The congregation prayed, and the Lord healed me; soon I was well and back in school.

By then we were living in Dallas where a new Apostolic Faith Church was being built downtown. Since Dallas was a small town, everyone was interested. When the dedication came, some of my high school friends and teachers were there. During the service, God convicted me, and I realized the debt I owed Him for sparing my life. It took a lot of courage to step forward to pray in front of my friends, but I knew they would not be able to help me when I stood before God in judgment. Finally, I went forward, not because I was expecting to enjoy being a Christian, but because I did not want to go to Hell. What a surprise it was when the burden of sin rolled away! A whole new life opened up for me: new desires, new friends, and a new disposition. My mother sometimes commented that she hardly recognized me as the same person. I really wasn’t the same person. How I have loved the Lord from that time on!

About a week after I was saved, the Lord sanctified me, and soon after, I received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. These experiences are as real to me today as they were many years ago.

After graduating from high school I worked for a time in the state government office in Salem, Oregon, and then I felt the Lord definitely call me to work in the church office in Portland. It was the church orchestra that finally drew me to Portland in the summer of 1936. I soon found my niche in the orchestra, office, choir, and any other place of service I could fill. Over fifty years later, I am still working full time. I appreciate the health and strength the Lord has given me, having had very little illness through the years.

It has been a wonderful life. Of course there have been hard times, periods of self-discipline, and of yielding to the molding of God. However, if I had it to do over, I would do it the same way. I am looking forward to seeing Jesus and want to hear Him say, “Well done.”

About the author

Edna Janzen was born in 1912 to parents who were pioneers of the Apostolic Faith Church in Dallas, Oregon. She began working at the Apostolic Faith world headquarters office in 1936 and became the office manager in 1959, a position she would hold for over twenty-five years. She went to her heavenly reward in 2004.