by Linda Schubert
I spent my early childhood years on my grandmother’s 2400-acre ranch high up in the Santa Lucia mountain range along the Northern California coast between Monterey and Big Sur. My early education was in a one-room school on the coast with 15 students, six grades in one room.
Dad, Charlie Vander Ploeg, was an atheist and the son of generations of Dutch atheists. He was deeply resistant to the word of God. Mom had encountered Christ as a student at San Jose State College in California, but because of the difficult family dynamics, my sister, Cherrill, and I were not raised in a Christian home.
My only “catechism” growing up was the little children’s song, “Jesus loves me.” There were many sunny afternoons on a rope swing hanging from an ancient oak tree, when I would push high into the trees, back and forth, singing, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong, they are weak, but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.” Jesus himself, through that anointed little song was planting seeds of God’s love in my heart.
An invisible wall
As a child and into my adulthood I was afraid of men. I could not open my spirit and feel free with them. There was an invisible wall. The family considered me a wild child; everyone was afraid I would turn out like Aunt Ruth. I worked hard to live up to the reputation! Aunt Ruth was definitely the family black sheep, a renegade newspaper reporter and photographer with an unconventional life-style. In today’s world she’d fit in pretty well.
By the time I was 23 I had been married and divorced twice. Life was in a downward spiral, spinning wildly out of control. I had no sense of how to build a productive life; I just didn’t know how to live.
A surprising requirement for becoming Catholic
When I was in my mid-twenties, I met and married Ron, a divorced man with four children. The children came to live with us when they were six, eight, ten and twelve. Shortly after their arrival, Ron told the family that he wanted us all to become Catholic. We made an appointment with Father Dermody at Our Lady of the Rosary parish in Palo Alto, California. He carefully studied our marital history, and then explained that in order to become Catholics we would have to live the rest of our lives as brother and sister, rather than as a married couple. While our decision to accept this ruling shocked those who heard the story it became for me a grace, especially in the later years when I knew that for emotional survival I needed a measure of distance from Ron.
Instruction in the Catholic faith was exactly what I needed. I learned about the God of history and our heavenly Father’s wonderful love plan to restore people to fellowship with Him. I learned about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus; I learned about the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Through this process, the Lord was bringing order out of the chaos of my life. Christian education has enormous potential.
From head knowledge to heart
Yet my Christianity was still head knowledge; it had not yet reached my heart. As with so many other people, the Lord gained my heart through personal crisis. My third stepson, Randy, was diagnosed with a rare untreatable cancer, and died at age 21.
A week after he died I turned on my television one day to a Christian evangelist I had never heard before. Pat Robertson on the 700 Club was inviting listeners to surrender their lives to Jesus. Falling to my knees I prayed with him, something like this:
“Jesus, I am so sorry for the way I have lived my life. I repent of all the wrong choices, and all the wrong paths. I turn from those wrong paths and I turn to you. Please come into my life and be my Savior and my Lord. I give my life to you. Please fill me with your Holy Spirit. Thank you, Lord. Amen.”
The Holy Spirit
In the preparation classes I had learned about the person and the work of Jesus. On this historic day, I took the next step. I said, “Jesus, knowing who you are and what you have done for me, I now give my life to you.” I could tangibly feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, loving me, filling me with his life.
I climbed into our old Dodge van and just drove around, windows wide open, singing in the Spirit from the depths of my soul. This was the beginning of a journey of discovering how our Lord takes amazing responsibility for our lives when we entrust them into his care.
© 2015 Linda Schubert from her book Rich in Mercy, available from www.linda-schubert.com
Linda Schubert has traveled the world through the popularity of her international best seller Miracle Hour. She co-authored many books with Rev. Robert DeGrandis SSJ, and authored ten books on various healing topics. With three terms on the Council for the National Service Committee of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, and associate membership in the Association of Christian Therapists, her talks, seminars and retreats have focused on prayer, healing and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.