My Personal Testimony of
The Judgment, Justice, and Mercy of
By Pastor F. M. Riley
June 1, 2018
"I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever: with my mouth will I make known Thy faithfulness to all generations," Psalm 89:1.
"Justice and judgment are the habitation of Thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before Thy face," Psalm 89:14.
In relating personal incidents in my life in my Bible studies from time to time, some readers have told me that I have seen and experienced a lot of trouble in my life. Trouble? As I look back, I don't see it that way. No! Rather, I see the hand and mercies of God. Yes!
In my Bible Studies I much prefer to keep the emphasis on the Lord and His Word, referring to myself only as needed. However, I make no apology to any reader for the opportunity to relate my personal experiences as a testimony for my Lord and Savior, and this is what this study is about; my personal testimony of what I have seen the Lord do in various experiences in my life.
Natural disasters, such as earthquakes, erupting volcanoes, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, and floods, are happening all over the earth today, exactly as predicted in the prophecies of God's Word for "the last days." Again and again the news media, and others, report on these disasters by saying that "Mother Nature" must be upset with humanity upon the earth.
Hogwash! The mythical so-called "Mother Nature" doesn't have a thing to do with any of it. But the judgment and justice, and mercy, of Almighty God has everything to do with what is happening. And in this study, I propose to demonstrate this truth to our readers through relating my own experiences in life.......
I was born, and grew to manhood, in the little town of Higgins, Texas, located way up in the panhandle. The year of my birth was 1934, the year historians now claim as being the worst year of the Great Depression. As some have heard the expression, my family was "dirt poor," but the love of God, and the love of one another was always in our home. So by God's grace we made it through the depression.
I was only four years old in 1938, when a cyclone struck our little town. I wasn't old enough to pay much attention to it, except that I remember that the wind was blowing real hard, and my Momma was praying.
We had a giant old cottonwood tree in our yard, right beside our house. I mean the tree was really old, with the trunk of the tree being three to four foot wide, and the top likely reached fifty foot from the ground. The wind in that cyclone was strong enough that it uprooted that old tree, and blew it over in our yard, right beside our house. Had the tree fallen on our house, it would have crushed the house, and likely would have hurt or killed me or some of my family. But our God is merciful to His people.
My Mom and Dad were Christians, and took me and my brother and sisters to church services regularly, and in between Sundays, we had family prayer and Bible study in our home. God knows where His people are, and grants them His protection according to His will for our lives. God knows what He is doing! Praise the Lord!
That same year in the winter, our little town suffered a blizzard with high winds for three days and three nights. When the blizzard finally ended and the sun came out, the snow was more than four feet deep with drifts 15 feet high, and in some places even higher. This snowstorm is still listed in the record books to this present day. But again, the Lord was merciful, and my family survived it.
The Great Tornado
Now I move forward nine years to 1947. I was thirteen years old when the great tornado struck our little town on Wednesday, April 9, 1947. No one in our town was expecting it. The tornado had formed and hit the ground at White Deer, Texas, a small town nearly a hundred miles to the west. But in those days TV was non-existent, and no one thought to call ahead on the phone, to give a warning to the towns lying in the path of that tornado. The tornado hit the little town of Glazier, Texas before it struck our town, nearly wiping it off the map.
The tornado then reached our town a little after 7 p.m. when most people were having their evening meal. The electricity went off at 7:28 p.m. It was a vicious and powerful tornado. It passed through our little town in three minutes. In it's wake, 46 of our friends and neighbors had been killed, and over 100 homes destroyed or seriously damaged. But...
God was there! My parents and I were just sitting down to eat our evening meal when soft ball size hail began falling. Then suddenly the roof went right off the house, and the entire ceiling collapsed right onto the table where we were sitting. The three of us jumped into the corner of the kitchen behind the kitchen door, fell on our knees, and began praying for the Lord's mercy upon us. After the tornado, all that was left standing of our house was the corner behind the kitchen door where we had been praying. While we were praying all the rest of our house blew down. After a few seconds of prayer, my Dad grabbed my Mom and me by the hands, saying that we had to get out of there and to some shelter. We fled from the house right over the flattened walls of what had been our home, and my Dad led us towards an old concrete cellar a block and a half away. We were tightly holding hands to keep from being blown away.
That is when I saw the flying dog. No, I'm not joking! A huge Collie dog came flying through the air towards us. That dog was at least three feet off the ground. We could see plainly because houses and buildings were burning all over town, and the fire was being blown through the air, lighting up the darkness. That Collie dog struck my Mom and knocked her to the ground, and then continued to fly right on off into the darkness. My Dad and I pulled my Mom to her feet and we went on towards the old cellar. We lost our home, but our lives were graciously spared. Houses can be rebuilt. The three of us who fled in that storm were not even injured. How good and gracious our God was to us in that terrible storm. Praise His Holy Name!
And oh yes! The inspired Word of God explicitly states, "The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power and will not at all acquit the wicked; the Lord hath His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet," Nahum 1:3. Glory to God!
A Few Brief Years
I then left home in 1951 at the age of 17 to go into public work. I moved to Amarillo, Texas, the largest city in the panhandle at that time. There is where, through one of my sisters, I was led into a great Bible believing church, which rightly preached and taught the great truths of God's Word. I became fascinated with the Word of God, and began studying it for myself like never before.
Again, through the mercies of the Lord, I met and married a wonderful sister in Christ in 1953, at the age of 19. The following year, in May of 1954, I surrendered my life to the Lord's ministry, and began preaching His Word.
Varied and many have been my experience across the years in the Lord's ministry. There have been a number of times when I would have been seriously hurt or killed, had it not been for the wonderful grace of God directing in my life. For this I have nothing but thanksgiving and praise for Him. Over many years I pastored churches in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, and New Mexico. Then back to Arkansas again.
I was pastoring a church in southern Arkansas, when I was called to pastor a church in the far off state of Washington. And Washington was where I had one more unforgetable experience.
The Year was 1980.......
And by that time I was 46 years of age. My beloved wife and companion of nearly 28 years was dying of cancer. I had never been so grieved as I was back then, even while pastoring that church in Richland, Washington.
I was there when, on a Sunday morning in May, 1980, Mount St. Helens exploded. I was in the church study, preparing my morning message when I heard, loud and clear, the explosion of Mount St. Helens, although it was 120 miles away. The sound of the explosion shook our church building, even at that distance. At the time I thought it was a large sonic boom, as we often had planes flying over from the nearby military base. But I soon learned different.......
There is a passage in God's inspired Word, which, up to that time I had never fully understood. The passage is in Exodus 10:21-23. In these Scriptures the Lord God told Moses to stretch out his hand toward heaven, and there would come "darkness" over the land of Egypt, which would be "thick" and could be "felt." At my age, I knew perfectly well that it becomes dark at night, but in my entire life of 46 years, I had never seen nor "felt.....thick darkness." But I did in May of 1980, when Mount St. Helens exploded.
The prevailing winds carried the ash cloud from Mount St. Helens directly over the city of Richland, Washington, and by the time we dismissed our Sunday morning service the entire city was covered by that massive cloud of ash. As we left the church building that Sunday morning, we were in total darkness; darkness that could be "felt" due to the falling ash. It was "thick darkness" because of the amount of ash that was falling. And, due to the ash cloud, the "darkness" could be "smelled and tasted." If I remember correctly after these many years, buildings, houses, streets, and the ground was covered in Richland, Washington with some eight inches of volcanic ash. Some buildings and structures in Richland, collapsed under the weight of the falling ash.
Then I knew what had happened in Egypt centuries ago, causing the entire land of Egypt to be covered with "thick darkness" which could be "felt." I would never wish this experience off on any person or people, yet I am grateful that the Lord God chose to allow me to experience it, and to learn the meaning of His Word from my experience.
The Year of 1981
On the first day of April in 1981 my beloved wife and companion of 28 years, went "home" to be with the Lord Jesus. Over my many years in the Lord's ministry, I had previously been called upon to counsel and pray with those who were dying, and with their loved ones left behind, and I had preached many funeral messages. But there are no words that can adequately describe the feeling in one's heart when it is your own spouse and companion, whom you love so deeply, who is being taken away by the icy hand of death. I have to believe that the Lord knew I needed a deeper understanding of death, due to having to pray with and counsel and seek to comfort others who had lost their own spouse or loved ones.
The Year of 1993
Oh, what a year this turned out to be......
I was only 46 years of age; still a fairly young man when my beloved wife died, and to say that I was lonely living without her companionship and help would be a vast understatement. Our gracious Lord God knew what mankind needed when He spoke in Genesis 2:18. After about a year, I came into contact with another dear lady, who became my second wife. We spent nearly 12 years together. But on January 1, 1993, New Year's Day, she became very ill, and asked me to take her to the emergency room of the hospital. I did! And there in the ER, the doctor found a huge tumour growing on one of her lungs. We went back the next day and it was confirmed by X-rays. The doctors said the tumour was inoperable, and fatal. They gave her only six months to live.
Just three months later, on April 2, 1993, my second wife went "home" to be with the Lord Jesus, and I had to face the grief of losing a companion and loved one again. The cruel hand of death was no easier to face the second time, than it was the first time. Every time I read Revelation 21:4, I have to stop and praise and thank the Lord for the "hope" that our merciful God has set out in the future before His people. Read Ephesians 2:6-7, and rejoice and praise the Lord.
Before 1993 was over the Lord gave me yet another experience that is still vivid in my memory. In August of that year, here in Missouri, it began to rain, and it rained abundantly every day until the rain just suddenly stopped in October. The result of all that rain was what the meteroligists refer to as a "500 year flood." This is supposed to mean that such flood only occur once in 500 years.
The flood was such that it literally closed the bridges crossing the Missouri River at Jefferson City. Vehicles couldn't even get close to the bridges. I was living at the time on the east side of the Missouri, in the city of Columbia. As one traveled towards Jefferson City on Highway 63, we could only go a short distance past Ashland, Missouri before coming to the Missouri River valley or basin through which the river flows. This was about six miles from Jefferson City, and the water was running six feet deep over that last six miles of highway.
Of course there were homes and businesses in the Missouri River basin which had to be abandoned. The Missouri State prison was also located there. The state police had to move all of the prisoners to other jails and prisons as the water arose. However, there was also a large and very old cemetery located in the basin. Just a few days after the water covered the cemetery, caskets, which are air tight when sealed, began popping up out of the graves, and floating down the river. This was actually shown on the TV news. I don't know to this day whether all of those caskets of people's deceased loved ones were recovered or not. It was quite a spectacle!
As I watched that mighty flood of 1993, I couldn't help but think of the flood in "the days of Noah," and I knew that the Lord God was mercifully giving us here in America a warning of even worse things to come in the future, as the prophecies of God's Word make quite clear. Oh, that men and women, boys and girls, would seek the Lord for salvation, while there is yet time and opportunity for them to be saved, Romans 10:8-13.
The Turn of the Century
By the year 2000, I had remarried for a third time, to a wonderful, dedicated, Christian lady, and we had moved to New Mexico to live. On November 29th of that year, I suffered my first heart attack. It wasn't that bad, and the doctors put a stint in me to solve the problem of blood flow, and I went back to the Lord's ministry, and back to work at the job I had to supplement my income.
My wife and I moved back to Missouri in 2003, when I was called to pastor a church in Columbia. As I was concluding my morning message one Sunday morning in November of 2004, I suffered my second heart attack. Again, the doctors installed a stint in the veins near my heart, so I could receive the blood my heart needed to keep beating correctly. Once again, I went back to the ministry, and to work.
Then in 2006 the Lord called my third beloved wife "home" to glory. She was a few years older than me, and her insurance had been canceled due to her age. I didn't know what to do, for I didn't have enough money in my savings to bury her. But I prayed earnestly, and once more our merciful Lord God provided. He used a number of dear brothers and sisters in Christ, to whom I am grateful to this day, to enable me to give my wife a proper burial.
By the grace and mercy of our precious Lord, after both of my first two heart attacks I recovered my health and strength, and went back to the ministry and to work. Then on October 9, 2008, I suffered my third heart attack. Strange that my three heart attacks came almost exactly four years apart.
This third heart attack was much different than the first two had been. When I went to the hospital, the doctors examining me, rushed me to the operating room, and into open heart surgery, installing five by passes in my heart. This time I was in the hospital and recuperation for 28 days. I have never regained the strength I had before the heart attack. Physically, I am still unable to do anything strenuous. I remain that way to this day. I walk with the aid of a cane, but not very far, and can only be on my feet about 15 minutes before having to find a place to sit down. But it wasn't my health that concerned me the most.......
How could I continue in the Lord's ministry in such a condition? This is what I ask myself, and the Lord, as I went to Him in prayer. I truly believe that I was directed by the Holy Spirit to begin a Bible Study ministry, writing out the great truths of God's Word on a computer, and sending them out to God's people, and to lost seeking souls, over the Internet. That is what I began to do, and am still doing right to this present day.
Not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined what our dear Lord God would do with such a ministry. Over the past ten years in this ministry, I have seen lost souls saved, broken homes put back together, Christian believers have dedicated their lives to the Lord, and many of God's people have been encouraged and built up in the faith. I have nothing but praise and thanksgiving in my heart for the Lord God, for taking a broken down old preacher like me, and over these past ten years, has given me the greatest ministry of my entire 64 years in His service.
Glory to God! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! This study, like all my previous studies, is dedicated to the Lord God who loves me and all true believers, and who purchased our salvation with His own precious blood at Calvary, Ephesians 1:5-7; 2:4-7; Colossians 1:12-14; 1 Peter 1:18-21.
Any reader of this study who is unsaved, or who has doubts about their salvation, needs to be seeking the Lord Jesus in prayer right now. Place your whole heart and faith in Christ Jesus to save you, and you will never have reason to be disappointed, Acts 16:30-31.
And this concludes my personal testimony. God bless every reader.
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