My name is Michael Wayne Ellis, and this, my friends, is my testimony on why I’m a Christian.
Last Tuesday, the leader of the Men’s Study Bible Study, Russ Andrews, challenged us by asking us a question. He asked if we were on our deathbed, would we share our testimony at that time. He then followed up by asking why we are waiting for that time in our lives — why aren’t we out there sharing our testimony right now? Well, my friends, that took root in me, and I knew that evening that this week, I was going to share my testimony with you.
The pathway on our road to Heaven is often winding, twisted, with many turns, some of them heading dangerously towards a cliff, and others leading right into Jesus’ arms, only to see us turn away at the last moment. That is my experience as well. I’m not going to go into my whole life story to date, if I did, you all would click away in minutes. Instead, my friends, I’m going to share with you that singular moment in my life where I knew without a doubt that I was a Christian, and that God had — correction, has — His loving gaze on me, my wife Cindy, and our daughter Sophie.
The date is June 18, 2001. Cindy is pregnant, but she has been at home for about a month on bed rest because of worry over gestational diabetes. She’s allowed to move around the house some, but she’s going stir crazy at home. The day before we had gone out for a while — it was a wonderful day, we took it easy, but despite that, that evening Cindy wasn’t feeling well. She had nausea, which hadn’t happened in a while, and she thought it might be gastritis. We made it through the night, though, and I got up on the morning of the 18th and went on to work. I knew that Cindy had a doctors appointment that afternoon, so I anticipated meeting her there for the appointment.
Sometime around lunchtime, she called me, asked me to pick her up because she still wasn’t feeling well, so that’s what I did. On the way to the appointment, Cindy was sick, and when we got to the office, she was sick again in the exam room. When Dr. Inge saw that, he sent us over to the birthing center immediately.
While we were there waiting to check in, Cindy’s stomach went into a considerable amount of pain. They fast tracked her back to a room, and got her setup on some pain medications. Only later would we find out that the diagnosis was HELLP Syndrome, a rare, extremely dangerous form of pre-eclampsia that is characterized with an increase in liver enzymes, and elevated blood pressure. The solution at that time (and I believe to this date) is simple — induce the delivery of the baby, because after the baby is delivered, the syndrome almost always dissipates. The only problem with this, though, is that Sophie was only 33 weeks along. The biggest concern was how far developed her lungs were, but in the end, we had no choice in the decision. Not treated, Cindy could have had a stroke.
Despite the stressful situation that we were thrown into, despite the concern that I had for both Cindy and Sophie, despite all of that, I was filled with a huge sense of calm, of peace. Throughout this experience, during Cindy’s contractions, helping her with her breathing, making sure that she was as comfortable as she could be under the circumstances, despite all of that, at no time did Cindy realize that she was in as much distress as she was. Certainly much of that was because of the medications that she was on, but additionally, there was no fear, no panic, no anxiety in my demeanor. I was as cool as a cucumber, and there is only one reason why I wasn’t a basket case: My Lord, Jesus, had filled me with a serenity like no other, and that peace I felt, it wasn’t just peace, it was God’s Peace, and I knew that it was going to be okay.
My friends, my brothers and sisters, Sophie was born on June 19, 2001, at 10:47PM. She weighed 4 pounds, 2 ounces, was just 17 1/2″ long, and was so tiny that the premie diaper had to be folded in half before it would fit her. The moment that she was born, with tears coming down out of both mine and Cindy’s eyes, I had no doubt whatsoever that Sophie was a gift from God. She was fearfully and wonderfully made, and despite our fears over her lungs, her lungs were great. She had a nasal cannula on her, which she kept pushing off, and finally after the 3rd time the Doctor said, let’s see how she does — she never needed the help breathing again.
Sophie spent 2 weeks in the NICU, and came home well before a set of twins that had been there for a month when Sophie was born. I think of those twins often, and pray that they are healthy and happy 13 year olds like Sophie.
Over the years, it hasn’t always been easy, but one thing has kept Cindy and I going, despite the trials that Sophie sometimes creates for us — we know that our baby is a gift from God, and that she is a child of God, and that she loves Jesus as much as she loves her parents.
Next Sunday, the 19th, our baby will take that next step in her life — she will complete the Confirmand classes at church, and she will publicly acknowledge God in front of her friends, her parents, strangers at Church, and most importantly, in front of God.
My friends, life is not easy, and it is not meant to be easy. But if you want a worthwhile life, full of meaning, full of certainty about what happens when you die, then I urge you to learn more about Jesus, and find out why He is the Way and the Truth and the Life, and why no one gets to the Father except through Him.
Isaiah 41:10 answers the question of why I was so calm during the time of Sophie’s birth. Simply put, God was with me, as He is to this day.
Our prayers and praises from Easter still need praying over, so please continue to pray for Cindy’s Uncle Ted, her Aunt Connie, and all the others, You can read them here, please have a look and continue praying.
Now, please pray with us the prayer that Jesus taught His Disciples to pray:
Our Father, who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done,
On earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory forever and ever.