How Jesus Can Change a Life

When I got the idea for this article, my dear friend Josephine Marcone was lying in a hospital bed suffering from pneumonia. Since she’s 82 (you’d never know it), I had no idea how things would turn out. I did know that every nurse and doctor who attended her would hear about Jesus; and if she failed to pull through, she’d be rejoicing in heaven in the presence of her Savior.

Thirty years ago Jesus changed Josephine’s life, and now she spends most of it telling people that He can change theirs. “I was the most fearful girl,” she told me. “I was afraid at night. I used to get depressed [you’d never know that, either], and I would never walk into my house alone. One time I was driving and had a panic attack. Today I’ll go anywhere, do anything. I drive to Florida. God has really taken all my fears away.”

She was also on the verge of a divorce. “When I got saved I fell in love with my husband all over again.” He came to Christ the following month.

If you think Josephine grew up without religion, you’re wrong. She had plenty of religion. She went to church faithfully and made her children go. She even sent them to parochial school. But none of those things makes one a Christian.

“I was always a Goody Twoshoes,” she said. “I told myself, ‘When God puts my life on a scale, He’ll say, “All right, Josephine, you’re good enough. You can come to heaven.”’

One day she was walking home and passed someone watering the lawn. “I told him, ‘You have a beautiful lawn.’ He said, ‘I should. I’m the gardener here.’ Then he asked me, ‘Do you know where you’re going when you die?’ I was so insulted! What kind of a question was that!”

But she didn’t know. So she told him about all her good works. And he told her what God said through the prophet Isaiah: “All our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6).

“What?” she asked. “You mean as good as I’ve been means nothing to God?” He said it didn’t.

“Well, then, how do you get to heaven?” she asked.

And he told her about Jesus from the Bible. He explained that God sent His Son to Earth to be the final sacrifice for sin. Jesus took the punishment she deserved by dying in her place, and Jesus’ blood atoned for her sin. Then He arose from the dead because He is God. All she had to do was accept that truth by faith and trust in Jesus, not in herself. Then God would apply Christ’s blood to her account and give her the gift of everlasting life.

Soon afterward the gardener recommended a good Biblebelieving church, and Josephine went. When the pastor invited people to come forward and ask Christ into their lives, Josephine did. The pastor’s wife escorted her into another room where they spoke, and Josephine prayed to receive Jesus as her personal Savior.

“Then she asked me, ‘Where are you going when you die?’ I said, ‘I think I’m going to heaven.’ She said, ‘No. I’m going to ask you again. Where are you going when you die?’ Then I said, ‘I’m going to heaven!’”

Thirty years have gone by, and Josephine is more in love with Jesus than ever. She has been through severe illness, had an eye removed, battled a brain tumor, and has a pacemaker and two stents in her heart. “I’ve been through the mill,” she said, laughing. “But I never feel alone because Jesus said He would never leave me or forsake me” (Heb. 13:5).

And He hasn’t. “He’s healed my marriage. My children got saved. And I’ve led a few people to the Lord. What the Lord did in our lives is amazing.”

Today Josephine is home from the hospital, back to hosting her Bible study, and never misses an opportunity to talk about Jesus. And, in case you’re wondering, she’s still in touch with the gardener!

Editor’s Note: While we were in production with this issue of Israel My Glory, Josephine suffered a stroke. She is recovering in a rehabilitation facility, and she and her family would appreciate your prayers.

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