The testimony of Dr. Mary Kraus exalts the Lord for His goodness to her. She gave me permission to share it so that many other people would be blessed by learning what the Lord has done for her.
What Really Matters?
I was fifteen when I stood one December Saturday at the top of the head wall on Rib Mountain in central Wisconsin. The snow was squeaky cold under my skis, and the trees and hills below glittered in the frosty sun.
I was anticipating a good fast run when I suddenly felt an overwhelming love from the God who had given me life and a body with senses, and a world that so thrilled and satisfied me. I was attending a Catholic High school and had just heard a priest invite us to consider giving our lives to God as priests or nuns. At that moment, I thought the most fulfilling thing I could do with my life would be to pursue a union with the Source of all that I had and was.
I had grown up in a Catholic family, attended parochial school and was taught that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and had become a man Who loved me and died on the Cross for all our sins. But at that moment of grace atop a ski hill, I fell in love with Jesus Christ and knew that He died for me.
I was the neighborhood scrapper, the practical joker who brought squirt guns to school to liven up the legs of my sixth grade classmates during change of classes when our desktops were raised. I picked fights with people just because I didn’t like the way they looked.
I was a sinner all right, and when I finally got hold of the concept that my rebellion and meanness put those nails in Jesus’ hands and feet, I became a new person. In those days, my favorite passage of Scripture was Luke 12:32-34,
“Do not be afraid little flock, for your father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
I was yet to learn by experience the truth of these words.
But I knew what it was to be loved, even before God’s love became real to me. Although I never realized it until later, my human father was a tremendous reflection of God’s love for me. It was easy for me to believe in God’s love because of him.
As I grew up, he taught me everything that mattered: How to enjoy a good storm from our back porch, how to recognize a blue jay’s call, how to play tennis, make a fire, appreciate a sunset, and read good books.
In my sixteenth year he died. Even now, sixty years later, I thank God for him and for my mother too who had her good hand on my life through her example of service to us and to many others outside of our family.
After that moment of grace atop Rib Mt., I attended Mass daily and looked forward to the time when I could prove to myself and to God that I was willing to give up His gifts in order to seek the Source and Giver of the gifts. So at eighteen I entered a Franciscan convent and began college classes and the routine religious life.
After my training, I taught in parochial grade schools for thirteen years but a sense of stagnation both spiritual and psychological set in and grew. This was now the late 60s when the old structures were no longer trusted. I lost my early ideals and left the convent for all the wrong reasons.
I decided to live my own life, thinking I could do better than to wait for the church and community to settle their direction. So for four years I lived a worldly life while teaching in public high schools and in South Korea as a Peace Corps volunteer.
But during this time God taught me the experience of, “Vanity of vanities…All is vanity!” All the while doing my own thing, I became increasingly depressed, and finally decided that like Don Quixote I needed to return to my early ideals no matter how impractical and unreasonable they were. So I returned to the convent for nine years until the old sense of stagnation set in again.
Then I earnestly began praying for direction. Here I was in my 40s and still not settled! What shall I do?
God answered my prayer, introduced me to fundamental Christians and eventually brought me down to a Christian University where I taught until retiring after thirty years. It took me too long to learn by experience the truth of Philippians 3:8 that all things are worthless in comparison to knowing Christ.
(Scripture from NASB)
Read a fuller testimony by Dr. Kraus here