Testimony: Resurrection Experience, by Julie Pienkos
(Pastoral Council Member, Parish Rep, and Musician)
I’ve been a Catholic all my life, but it wasn’t until two years ago that I put any effort into engaging with the Lord personally. Then God led me on an amazing journey culminating in a real resurrection experience. My life has dramatically changed, and I am experiencing the joy and freedom that the Scriptures speak about for those who follow Jesus and His Church.
It all started after I made some small attempts at daily prayer in response to our priests’ insistence on a regular prayer life. Then my family life became stressful and I just knew that I had to throw myself fully into the arms of the Lord for strength, or I would fall apart, as I really don’t do stress well.
I slowly started attending daily Masses. As soon as I had made that conscious decision to turn to the Lord for strength, He moved in immediately and started pursuing me. I began to recognize His voice in things I read, or heard at Mass or on the radio. His messages so precisely answered my struggles that I found myself thinking over and over “this is not a coincidence!” One Sunday I heard a homily outlining the many temptations with which the world entices us. I felt the Lord was speaking right to me. It brought to mind some youthful indiscretions that I had completely buried for my entire adult life and had despaired of ever being freed from. In that homily He named my sin as if to say “Sweetheart, I already know what it is. I invite you to admit it to Me and allow Me to forgive you.” I never doubted that the Lord could forgive even those sins, but I was just too afraid to admit them to another person in the confessional.
The Lord continued to pursue me patiently. At a Pentecost healing service I attended, I had a strong sense He was waiting, but I still didn’t have the courage to approach the confessional. All I could do was to kneel, weeping, before the Blessed Sacrament. Just then I saw in my mind a vision of a tank, like a water heater tank, that was filled with white hot lava that was circulating from top to bottom. It was surprising and odd, and I didn’t know what to make of it. I continued to ponder it.
I dove into Bible study, Alpha and discipleship groups. I hesitantly began going to confession, but kept to confessing only the little things. Jesus started drawing me into the adoration chapel. It felt awkward at first, but I persisted, and gradually I started to feel peace and warmth in His presence.
One week I had the urgent sense that I could wait no longer. The Lord gave me the courage to confess the thing for which I couldn’t forgive myself in almost 50 years. In His brilliant timing and exquisite sense of humor, it turned out the date was October 31, Halloween, when scary things happen! And He forgave me and I survived! The joy I have felt ever since that blessed absolution has been indescribable. Every time I think about it, I feel again the euphoria and amazement of having that massive weight lifted from my soul. I am constantly thanking the Lord and telling Him I love Him.
Subsequently, while thinking about that image of the lava tank, the Lord showed me that the tank represented my soul, and the lava was the burning love of the Holy Spirit confirming that even the most caked-on sludge in the bottom of my soul was no match for His white hot love which burned it out.
In this Easter season, I now see that this new life of mine is a resurrection. When I held on to sin, I subconsciously identified as someone not worth being around; I kept to myself a lot. Since the joy of the Lord’s forgiveness took hold, I have felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude and I have a great desire to give back. After scouring out that stain in my soul, He filled my tank with a love that overflows. This new life of mine has reaffirmed my true identity as a child of God with something to offer, and I am more open to love others in the ways God inspires me to do so.
God is Love and He is SO GOOD! Thank You, Jesus for Your great mercy! As a sister in Christ, I encourage you in this Year of Prayer to take to heart the invitation to a regular prayer life, because God truly changes the lives of those who follow His counsel to be still and know that He is God.
In Christ’s Peace,