IT'S REAL!

The Personal Testimony Of Diana Fuqua

I've never really thought of myself as a bad person. I've never killed anyone; I've never done drugs; I've never stolen anything (except a pack of gum when I was in fourth grade). I was basically a good person. But I see that I've been a Pharisee all my life. A Pharisee is a religious man, yet a man who looks down his nose at those who don't go to church like he does, or know God like he does, or a man who puffs himself up with his good works. To the outside world, he is a man who thinks himself righteous by his own acts. That was me. I was all these things and more.

When I was six years old, I had an experience. I asked Jesus to save me one night on my parents' couch. I prayed my own prayer and understood the words in my head. I was sincere, but I didn't understand the words in my heart. As I left the couch and went to bed, I knew deep inside me that I was no different than before I prayed. A few months later, I was baptized into the church.

I lived my life pretty much without incident until high school. There I could see my desires change. I no longer wanted to be the perfect little Christian. I wanted to talk the way I wanted to, not the way Christians were expected to. I wanted to party on the weekends, not be bored the way Christians were expected to be. However, I knew that if I acted the way that I wanted to, I would hurt my parents and family, disappoint friends and teachers, and ruin my good reputation.

So what did I do? I put on my 'Christian attire' during the day and on Sunday's; a smile, a holy attitude, and loving kindness to my fellow man. I wore my 'me' outfit the rest of the time. My 'me' outfit revealed a lost and rebellious teenager. It was during that time that I became involved in an unthinkable lifestyle. The best way I can explain it is that I had a void, similar to a black-hole, which I tried to fill with worldly and ungodly things. However, as time went on, I realized that nothing could fill it up.

My conscience began to bother me. How could I be saved and live like this? How could I be saved and think these thoughts or have these desires? While I was in high school, our church had two different preachers. I went to them both with my questions and doubts. Both of them told me that I must be saved because of my 6-year-old experience. I just needed to rededicate my life. And rededicate I did! It got to the point that whenever I went to the altar to the preacher during the invitation, the entire church seemed to say, "Oh no, there she goes again!"

After high school, I attended Union University. There my lifestyle changed some more. I was a resident assistant in the housing complex, and it was my job to be an example at all times to the rest of the dorm students. So I wore my 'Christian attire' night and day five days a week, unless I was with my newly-found best friend. With her and at home on the weekends, I still wore my 'me' outfit.

Changing outfits all the time was getting to me and I wanted some help. I wanted answers. So I talked to one of my friends who was heavily involved in the BSU. If anyone would know, she would. She opened the Bible to Romans. "Oh no,"I thought. "I've been down this road many times. There's got to be more to it than this." She tried hard that night to get me to repeat a prayer. I couldn't explain it at the time, but I knew I needed more than a prayer. Somehow I managed to convince her that I was saved, just confused. I may have convinced her, but I couldn't convince myself. Little did I know God was setting me up.

While I was at Union, I met my husband. From the first time I met his family, I sensed something different. Even at their church, things were different. There was a certain feeling I just couldn't put my finger on. It was the feeling I longed for. A few months later, Mark and I were married. "I've married a preacher," I thought. "Now my problems will be over." I hoped my black hole would be filled, too.

Two weeks after our wedding, we went to the Mississippi Delta Camp meeting. Mark had tried to explain the Camp meeting to me. I just assumed it was a week-long revival. Boy, was I in for a surprise! There was that feeling again - the one I couldn't explain but longed for anyway. At the beginning of the week, these people, I thought, were strange. But by the end of the week, I could see that they had something I didn't have. During that week, Brother Vance Parks sang the song It's Real by H. L. Cox. I couldn't understand it. Every time he sang that song, everyone else enjoyed it. I hatedthat song! I felt sick every time I heard it. The first two verses describe my life very well:

1) O how well do I remember how I doubted day by day,

For I did not know for certain that my sins were washed away;

When the Spirit tried to tell me, I would not the truth receive.

I endeavored to be happy, and to make myself believe.

2) When the Truth came close and searching all my joys would disappear,

For I did not have the witness of the Spirit bright and clear;

If at times the coming Judgment would appear before my mind,

O it made me so uneasy, for God's smile I could not find.

I knew by the end of the week that something was very wrong with me. At Immanuel that next Sunday, I told the church that I didn't know if I was saved or not. I knew, but I didn't want to admit it. If I admitted I was lost, everyone would find out.

For the next two years, I tried everything possible to get God to save me in the privacy of my bedroom. I prayed at night after Mark had gone to sleep that God would save me and I could just go on with my life. No one but God would ever have to know, not even my husband. It could be our little secret.

In August of 1993, Mark and I went back to the Camp meeting. It was our second time, and I dreaded it. Brother Vance sang It's Realagain and I tried to drown out his voice with my thoughts. It was impossible. His powerful voice blasted away every thought I had, and it was only Tuesday. This was going to be a long week.

Tuesday night I had been under conviction. I was miserable and wanted everyone else around me to be miserable, too - especially Mark. On our way back to the house where we were staying, I thoroughly aggravated him. I was beginning to feel better. When we got in the house, we went to our room where I continued to ask him questions. He kept telling me to talk to Brother Charles Shipman, the director of the Camp meeting, but I kept refusing. Finally, I just told him to leave me alone and go visit with his parents who were also staying with us. He did. He walked out of that room. I couldn't believe he left me there crying like that! That bullheaded pig! I began to cry harder with self-pity and finally cried myself straight into God. I asked him why I felt like this, so alone. He said, "You know why and you know what you've got to do." Yes, I did.

Wednesday morning I woke up with a purpose. I was getting somewhere. I knew I had to admit that I was lost. I desperately didn't want to do it, but I desperately wanted to fill the black-hole. I told the people at Camp meeting that I was lost. It was such a big relief. Now I could stop pretending.

The next three days I found myself in the altar several times with gut-wrenching pains. Why wouldn't God save me?!? I tried everything from begging to repeating everything I'd ever heard to crying myself sick. So many times, I knew God was close by. I knew He wanted to save me. But how?

By Friday afternoon I was ready to talk to Brother Charles. I told him that I had a picture of my situation. I was in a four-story building that was on fire. The only way out was through the window. There were four firemen on the ground holding a tarp for me to jump into. I told Brother Charles that I couldn't jump. I was afraid that the firemen would miss me or the tarp would rip. He explained to me that it was my unbelief that kept me from jumping. How astounding! I never thought of it like that. Those firemen represented God and I didn't believe they would catch me. Then he made a statement that I will always remember: "At the end of desperation comes deliverance." When the flames got too hot, I would jump. He told me to jump the next time I felt the Holy Spirit. "Easier said than done," I thought.

That night I didn't really pay attention. I knew salvation was the emphasis, but I kept telling myself that God was there for someone else, not for me. Then Brother Charles began to pray. I was still telling myself that God wasn't there for me. Then in Bro. Charles' prayer, he said, " . . . just let them jump into your arms." I knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that God was there for me. I began to pray. I began asking God to help me. Then I felt him standing right beside me. It is hard to tell you what happened next. All I can say is, I jumped! And God caught me and he snuggled me up next to him so that I would know that I was safe. I looked up at my husband and said, "I just got saved!" In the middle of Brother Charles' prayer, he picked me up and began shouting and praising while I cried. Nothing has ever felt so sweet. My black-hole is filled. The fourth stanza of It's Realsays it all:

4) So I prayed to God in earnest, and not caring what folks said,

I was hungry for the blessing, my poor soul it must be fed,

When at last by faith I touched Him, and like sparks from smitten steel,

Just so quick salvation reached me; O bless God, I Know it's real!

It's real, it's real, O I know it's real,

Praise God the doubts are settled,

For I know, I know it's real.