by Frieda Cowling
God used the following things in my life to help me keep my Christian testimony at the University of Tennessee from 1959 to 1961.
- Daily Bible Reading. When I was in junior high, a Sunday night Bible teacher made a statement I have never forgotten. “Reading your Bible daily will change your life.” I knew this was something I could do, and I have followed his advice for the last 46 years. He was right. God wants His Word to be “a lamp to our feet and a light to our path,” but the choice to read or not to read is up to us. God accepts no excuses for failing to read the Bible every day. This only became possible in my life when I had a set time and place for reading the Bible and when I promised God I would do it.
- Relationship with My Parents. My parents loved God and me unconditionally. They loved me enough to praise me when I did right and to punish me when I did wrong. This love created a desire within me to please them. In fact, I carried this desire with me to the university, and it was a motivating factor for me to do right. I was living away from home in the dorms, but I knew if I turned my back on my parents’ teaching, it would break their hearts. I felt the same way about my Heavenly Father and disappointing Him. During my senior year in college, all three of my suite mates smoked, but I didn’t. Why not? My Heavenly Father said my body was a temple of the Holy Spirit, and my earthly father felt a lady should not smoke. My so-called friends told me that my father would not find out, but I was not willing to take the chance. My daddy has been in Heaven for over 20 years, but I am still motivated to do right and please him because he is in the “heavenly crowd of witnesses.” “Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
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- Fear of Punishment. In my home, we lived by Proverbs 22:15 which says, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” I knew if I didn’t live according to biblical teaching, God would punish me. The last spanking I received from my father was when I was 16 years of age. I was a junior in high school, and my curfew was 11:00 p.m. My younger brother and my date and I arrived home at 11:05 p.m., and the spanking followed. What hurt me most was not the spanking but the knowledge that I had disappointed my dad when I heard his words, “I thought I could trust you.” I decided I would never again break his rules, because I loved him and wanted to please Him.
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- Faithfulness to Church. I can never remember missing church for any reason. God was the center of our lives, and we went to church as a family. My father was one of ten children, and most of our visiting was done on Sunday afternoon. In warm weather, it was a common occurrence to have many of our relatives visit. We would have homemade ice cream and play games in the yard. About 30 minutes before church, my dad would say, “In a few minutes we will be going to church.” That was a signal for my brother and me to stop playing and dress for church. Our relatives could either go to church with us or go home. I don’t believe my dad ever considered staying home because we had company. He taught me by his example how important it was to be faithful to church.When I am tempted to forget Galatians 6:9, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap if we faint not,” I remember my dad. I don’t believe I would have a Christian testimony today without his unconditional love for me and for God. My parents’ lives spoke as loudly as their talk.