At one time I thought I had no testimony to give. I had lived what I called a very ordinary sort of life - quite uninteresting to anyone else. But that was a few years ago and I have lived a little longer. Certainly I couldn't write a book, but I feel I might be able to encourage others by telling them what the Lord Jesus means to me now.


So as I look back over the years, I think I can sum up my life by saying that it has been enclosed in a circle made up of 3 scriptures. Over and above me is God's wonderful love: "His banner over me is love" from the Song of Solomon. Underneath I am girded by the Scripture "The eternal God is my refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms" from Deuteronomy. And completing the circle on either side I am garrisoned by the faithfulness of God - "Great is Thy faithfulness" from Lamentations. I feel it was God's love to me that caused me to be born into a home where the Lord Jesus was loved and honoured and I was brought up in an atmosphere of love.


I also had a little friend who would keep asking me if I was 'inverted' and said she was. Of course she meant 'converted' and one night after hearing a preacher speaking of Jesus being the Good Shepherd, I went home, waited till everyone was out of the room, and knelt down and asked the Lord Jesus to make me one of his lambs. I was 9 years old. I cannot tell you what month or day it was, but I could take you to the spot where I knelt and made that request. I know that was the night of my conversion, although I wasn't really conscious of being a sinner, but as my father used to talk to me about this, and as I listened to the gospel preachers, I soon became aware of this fact, and so I asked God to forgive me, and the Lord Jesus to be my Saviour. I did this several times because I wanted to make sure I was really saved!


As a child I was a nervous little creature. Frightened of everything. Frightened of dogs, horses and cows. Scared of gypsies, and the thought of burglars really alarmed me. I was terrified my mother or father would die. I was frightened of the dark, thunder and lightning - in fact, you name it, and I was frightened of it.


But I always prayed about everything. And now I can look back over quite a few years, and see how God wonderfully answered my childish prayers. I was never eaten by dogs, kicked by horses or tossed by cows. Thank God, we never had burglars. Certainly I have in recent years suffered the effects of lightning striking my home, but I was mercifully preserved. My mother and father both lived to a good age in spite of my mother's ill health. How good God is.


In 1939 I married Percy, my childhood sweetheart, and together we shared a comfortable home, and enjoyed 37 years of lovely married life. There have been one or two periods and events in my life which God, in his faithfulness has used to deepen my faith.


In 1945 our home was demolished completely by a 'flying bomb'. We lost our home, but we were not there. Percy was in the army and I was at Ealing, and so our lives were preserved, and God helped us to get another home together in spite of wartime difficulties.


It was a major operation in 1960 which caused me to start reading my Bible regularly - something which I had allowed to lapse. In 1964 Percy and I heard a Keswick tape-recording of a sermon on the text "We will not have this man to reign over us." This caused me some heart searching, but it was the means by which I came to surrender every part of my being to the Lord Jesus, and dedicate my life to Him. After that I had a new desire to read my Bible - it just came alive to me.


In 1966 the Billy Graham Crusade was one of the greatest blessings of our lives. The counselling classes at Duke Street Baptist Church. the Prayer Meetings in our home, and the privilege of counselling some, was a real thrill and blessing to us. And the Lord Jesus has become and is still becoming more and more precious to me. I feel the strength of those Everlasting Arms underneath me in times of sorrow, trial and testing. I am learning to trust Him. And sorrows and trials have come.


In 1965 my brother died - the first break in my family, and through the years of my mother's suffering and her death in 1971, the presence of the Lord was a living reality. I shall never forget how those Everlasting Arms carried me through that sorrow I had so dreaded as a child.


But it was at the beginning of 1977 in January that the greatest and most terrible shock and upheaval in my life came. My Percy died. The Lord called him, and he went. Just like that. I couldn't believe it! He was so vital - so full of life - but it was, Oh, so true.


At that moment the Lord himself stood by me and whispered, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, and my ways are not your ways. As for God His way is perfect." And in those moments of shock and grief there came an inner peace to my soul and I knew the very real presence of the Lord.


How many times had I tried to comfort others when they were passing through times of trouble. I had told them to trust the Lord for I knew He would help them, and I rather wondered whether I should be tested on what I had told others. But I didn't think it would be like this. A new life was ahead of me with many adjustments to be made. Our life together had been a lovely partnership, but now I had to take over, and I didn't know how to face life without my husband.


Again those Everlasting Arms were there, drawing me close to Himself, lifting me up when I felt I would sink. The Lord told me "I have got Percy safely with me, but I shall always be with you", and He gave me the verse from Psalm 32 "I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go, I will counsel you with mine eye upon you," and I just knew I could trust Him with every detail of my life.


He has helped me cope with life. With the car, and those things I never had to worry about before. Little things loomed so big in those early days, and I used to kneel down beside the thing that had gone wrong (and I still do this) and ask the Lord to help. I remember one night I just couldn't get the frig. door to shut however much I tried. Then a friend called and I asked him about it. "Joyce," he said, "you've got the mat caught in it!" I felt stupid, but so relieved.


My life is a miracle since Percy died. Things I was so afraid of at one time, I am afraid of no longer. I'm quite peaceful being alone in the house - a thing I could never have done before. I know the Lord Jesus is with me, always and everywhere. He will never fail. He remains faithful - even when I am faithless.


Perhaps I could just say a word to some who may be dreading losing their partner - Please do not try to meet such a situation, for the future is mercifully veiled and we are not asked to face such an eventuality until it comes. The grace and strength to bear it will be given at the time and not before. Make the very most of one another, enjoy one another's company for every moment together is precious.


My Father. too, is now with the Lord, and so he and my Mother, my brother and my husband are all safely in heaven, and my little ship is still bobbing about on the sea of time, but thank God, Jesus is my Pilot, and He is in control. His banner over me is love. Underneath are the Everlasting Arms, and Great is His Faithfulness.

A Special Testimony


The Testimony of Joyce Whitton,


who died at the age of 86 on 6th November 2001

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