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Miramichi Seed Sprouts in the Yukon
The question stayed with her all her life-is God real? A trip to the Yukon and a harrowing experience rekindled the words of a missionary from her childhood and changed her heart.

The last thing a rebellious teenager wants to hear is the way of salvation. Yet at a key time in my life, God sent a missionary from the Shantyman organization to plant a seed. Years later it sprouted in a big way, thousands of miles from home.

Maxine Dickie: "Such scenic masterpieces (Kluane National Park) could only be the work of a divine hand."

Growing up in a large family in Miramichi, New Brunswick, was painfully trying at times. I felt like I was invisible unless I was trying to get out of going to church or school. Even worse, every week I had to attend Canadian Girls In Training (C.G.I.T.), a girls' church group. Boring! None of it seemed to have a point except to get me out of the house. I didn't believe in God and wondered how many others in the church were following these rituals without knowing if God was real.

Then something grabbed my attention. I heard Mom and Dad talk about a Shantyman named Jack McKie who abandoned his old life to preach the Gospel full-time, trusting in God alone for his livelihood. This story interested me because it offered a way of proving that God exists. Either God was real, or Jack was in big trouble. I was impressed by Jack's boldness and decided to keep track of his progress.

Then one day I actually looked forward to attending C.G.I.T. Jack was coming to speak to us about God. I listened closely to every word because I knew he was walking the walk, not just talking the talk. As he explained the way of salvation I was grateful that someone finally clarified what this business of church-going was really all about. Up until then it seemed to me that the church was like a spiritual construction site where the workers were so focused on doing the work that they forgot what they were building. Jack supplied the blue-prints!

But still I had a problem believing. Although I learned why the church was there, I couldn't be sure if everything was true. When I asked what if it wasn't, Jack replied, "What if it is?" I wasn't satisfied with basing my whole life on something that just might be true, so I stored his information in my memory bank under the letter T. If I ever found the truth, I'd know what to do. Then I forgot about the whole thing.

Years passed and I grew up in rebellion and confusion, determined to find the truth on my own. College or university just got in the way. I made a habit of questioning authority and breaking traditions. Hitch-hiking was a great way to combine rebelling with seeing the country and making a new life for myself. I traveled all over Canada, stopping long enough to work and raise money to travel some more.

Maxine Dickie: "After the accident it was a breath-taking experience to see this view emerge when the sun finally came up, and to realize that we had come close to plunging much further down the side of a mountain."

Canada itself started giving me hints that God is real. Such a majestic land with so many breath-taking landscapes and wonderful people couldn't possibly be a random occurrence. My first hiking trips through the fresh mountain air of British Columbia had me panting for God. Such scenic masterpieces could only be the work of a divine hand. How I hoped God was real! I wanted to personally congratulate Him for such artistic excellence. But how could I find Him?

In 1979 I tackled the Alaska Highway, hitch-hiking with a friend through northern British Columbia and into the Yukon. It was a grand adventure into the great unknown on a "highway" that was over a thousand miles of dirt road through the mountain wilderness. From inside the cab of a half-ton truck, the scenery was exhilarating. Vast tracks of evergreen forests as far as the eye could see filled the air with the fresh pungent smell of spruce. Flowing rivers, high mountain peaks and abounding wildlife went on and on for hundreds of miles. Dilapidated tourist shops and gas stations appeared every fifty miles or so. At one heart-stopping bend in the road we came upon a mother grizzly and her cub foraging in the ditch. It truly was the adventure of a life-time. Especially when things took a turn for the worse.

Night fell not long after we crossed over the Yukon border. As the ride continued, my friend dozed off. Then I fell asleep too. And just north of Teslin in the middle of nowhere, so did our driver. Suddenly all three of us were jolted awake to see that we weren't just heading for the ditch; we were going down the mountainside! The driver managed to steer the truck so it would go straight down, and down we went. Bouncing over bushes, crashing through small trees and barely missing huge boulders, we were helpless until we came to a full stop about a hundred yards below the road. Miraculously, nobody was even scratched!

My companions curled up in sleeping bags by a campfire to wait out the rest of the night. I was too overwhelmed to sleep. I sat on a log instead, gazing at the night sky and thinking big thoughts. I considered how lucky we were and wondered why some people are lucky and others not. I decided I was lucky because my parents prayed for me. Then it hit me: obviously someone was answering!

Maxine and her brother Murray Heckbert.

The more I sat there thinking, the more I wondered. Finally I thought if God wanted me to know He was real, He would tell me. So I spoke out into the darkness "God, are you there?" And He answered with two simple words: "I am." The words impacted me like a spiritual lightening bolt. It wasn't an audible voice I heard. Rather it felt like every cell in my body just woke up and received these two words into my whole being. Suddenly I knew beyond a doubt that God was there, watching over me. But when I asked Him to tell me exactly who He was, I heard only silence. It felt like He was saying, "It's for Me to know and you to find out."

So I thought some more. What did I know about God so far? I remembered going to Sunday school and church, but couldn't remember anything about who God really is. I thought about CGIT with the same result. Then I remembered Jack. And I remembered what Jack said, and how he had staked his whole life on what he believed. I decided to be like Jack.

Soon the sun came up and the light was everywhere, especially in my heart. In the back seat of a truck on the drive into Whitehorse, I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and come into my life. As the years passed I learned all about God through His Word. I came to know Him as the great "I Am" and as a man named Jesus who specialized in not conforming and breaking with mindless traditions for the sake of truth and love. I know Him as the Spirit of Truth who guides me in all truth, so I too can trust God fully and live for Him. And I know Him as the voice of love expressed through faith, flowing from the hearts of people who are willing to stake their lives fully on God in order to reach others for Him.

Thanks, Jack.

Maxine is a now an avid writer and homeschooling mother of two, who continues to live outside the box by the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, close to the Creator and His bald eagles who keep her gazing heavenward. She recently published her testimony in a book: Church Triumphant.

Originally published in Word & Deed, an SCA International publication, Summer 2006.

 

 
 
 
 

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