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  • Writer's pictureJames Dunlap

Grace Notes: How God Won Me Over 100% - A Brief Testimony

Updated: Jan 13

My late wife died on Jan 29, 2022. During her 2-month final hospitalization after emergency surgery, I was fasting and praying for her and seeking God in sincerity and intense earnestness. About 6 or 7 years before that, I had finally successfully given up all of my ambitions to become this or that, spiritually or otherwise, and had settled into the task of caring for and supporting my ailing wife. Those were the happiest years of our marriage, in spite of much hardship and instability in our financial and living circumstances.

During that final 2 months, I saw incredible answers to prayer, like fasting and praying with several FB friends, and though the ICU doctor had said her case was hopeless the day before, she popped her eye open on day 5 of the fast and, after more intense, heartfelt prayer that evening, the next morning I found that her vitals had all stabilized that same hour as the prayer the night before.

But she had an episode a week later, and as I was praying at home, suddenly the Spirit came down with something like a blanket of peace and said, "I'm going to take her home." I had prayed that if she was going to die, that God would give me a few days with her fully awake and cognizant, and that's what He did. She recovered, was taken off the respirator, started talking (in the sweetest childlike voice and diction, the effects of long sedation), and was with me for a whole month longer!

When she died, it was clear from a couple days before that she wasn't going to make it and that the situation she faced if she did live was way too difficult and painful. Then God reminded me of what He had said the month before, and that it was His perfect timing and no one could or should do anything about it. I had perfect peace, and in fact incredible joy, that He was doing the right thing! And now He finally had my whole heart from the gratitude and love that swelled up from the depths of my being for the love, mercy and grace He had shown me during that whole ordeal!

During the whole hospitalization, while I was ministering to her by her side and being (unawares) an example to the hospital staff of devoted love (which several nurses commented on), God was quietly taking care of so many little details. It was like He was leaving little love notes, or perhaps "Grace Notes", of how He cares for those who put everything else aside to do His will (as in Matt. 6:33). This, and the usefulness I saw that I could have for Him, won my heart to Him in such a complete way!

After my wife's death, I wanted all of my time, resources and strength to be His to do as much good as He could through me with the time I have left. I passed out Bibles to homeless people (my wife's classmate from Papua New Guinea, where she grew up as a missionary kid, is a pastor and evangelist, and he has thousands of Bibles, so he started sending them to me about 40 at a time), I attended home fellowship at the home of one of the nurses who had attended Joymarie, my late wife, and I was sharing my love for God wherever and whenever I could.

I was very happy at one point to give a ride and a Bible to a woman, Lucy, who I found out was newly sober (for 18 days at that time) and had given herself 100% to following Jesus. As she put it, "Jesus left the 99 percent of my life that I had given Him and went in search of the missing 1 percent." I love that way of saying it!

I found that as I worked, I could listen to my favorite audio, the KJV Bible read by Alexander Scourby. He was a Shakespearean actor with a rich, expressive voice, and used his skill to put great feeling and expression into his reading, while still sounding like a real person rather than a broadcaster or radio personality (as many of the other audio Bible readers seem to be).

Anyway, the more I listened, the greater the connections between parts of the Bible (particularly the NT) became clear. God was increasing my wisdom and clarity through His Spirit, so that I could give strongly helpful answers to those I was dealing with. I love the way that, when we give ourselves to serving Him, He takes care of the little details of life and can cause us to soar in our spirits over them and not get bogged down.

For me, the Bible is like a rich tapestry or a complex piece of music. Many themes/colors/threads are introduced in the Pentateuch and history, then subducted out of view, then they reappear in many other places throughout the later and later writings, until when the Gospels come along, they are brought out and woven perfectly into the subject of Jesus, God's Son, Eve's seed, Abraham's seed, David's "Lord/son", etc.

All of the concepts, such as faith, righteousness, obedience, humility, sin, "being called but not chosen", unfaithfulness vs. submission, and much, much more, are given much greater clarity and focus and depth in Christ, the very Son and perfect and exact image of God and His ways here among men. Then the rest of the NT develops how the mysteries hidden in the time before Christ are now revealed, how we are given all that we need (boundless and perfect supply) to follow His example and become just like Him, and so much more.

"Oh, the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!" (Romans 11:33)

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