Our Perfect Priest and Mediator
As a first grader at St. Edward School, one of the first tenets of Catholic doctrine I learned—and can still recite after 60 years—was that “the Catholic Church is the one true church instituted by God to give grace.” My childhood neighborhood was comprised of many Catholic families as well as the non-Catholics. All my friends were from my school. We did not associate with the “publics,” the kids who went to the public school. I am not sure why. We just didn’t. There was a church down the block from my house that wasn’t Catholic, and I often wondered what it looked like inside, but I never went in. As a Catholic, I was not supposed to attend non-Catholic services.
I enrolled in the nursing program at Loyola University Chicago, and at this renown Jesuit Catholic university, I began to question my faith. I occasionally attended mass on campus as an attempt to worship and connect with God. I still maintained the belief that the priest was the only one with direct access to God and would pray for us or intercede for us during mass. I knew the “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” but I had never prayed a personal prayer to God. That’s not how Catholics prayed. I had head knowledge about the Trinity, the Incarnation and the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus, but my heart was dry and lifeless.
The Quest for Love and Approval. After college I drifted into the lifestyle of a secular world. When I did attend mass, it was repetitious and empty—much like my now dormant faith. I grew up in a home with a father who was a binge drinker on weekends and a depressed mother who was a closet drinker, and this affected me more than I realized. I was seeking an identity, a purpose for living, love and acceptance—all the needs that were never met as I was growing up.
I sought love and approval from relationships with men, which proved disappointing and unsatisfying. My identity came from how good of a nurse I was and my intelligence and looks. I was filled with pride, but in the long run, I felt empty.
In God’s providence, he placed two Christian nurses on the same unit as me. We quickly became friends. I didn’t know what they believed but they cared for me in a way that was deeper than any other friends. On Sunday, nurse Kathy invited me to her church. It was the first time in my life I ventured into a non-Catholic church.
Draw Near to God. I remember little about the service. It just felt right to be there with Kathy. That afternoon I went to a park by Lake Michigan and asked God to make himself known to me and take control of my life. I prayed a simple prayer to God (another first). At that moment I knew I was not alone. Something wonderful had happened. God was with me. And even though I didn’t know the Scripture, James 4:8 rang true in my heart,
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
The next day, my nurse friend Jan and I were assigned the care of four patients in one of the post-surgical rooms on the ICU unit. As we were caring for a patient together, I felt prompted to tell her that the day before I had a religious experience. Jan became more and more excited as I described to her what happened. She and Kathy began to disciple me in the faith. It was through a Navigators study in the Gospel of John that I became convicted of my need for personal salvation in Jesus. I had the head knowledge, but now, at last, I had the heart awakening.
My identity was now in Christ alone. I was a new creation in Christ. My heavenly Father loved me.
I began attending a midweek fellowship group for singles at Moody Church. I knew I needed to worship at a Bible-believing church, and for me, leaving the Catholic church was the right decision. I began attending Moody Church under the teaching of Dr. Erwin Lutzer. A few months later I moved to Oak Park and began attending Calvary Church. My baptism by immersion came shortly afterwards.
My initial step of faith was not a result of an evangelistic service, an altar call or a one-on-one presentation of the gospel as some believers come to faith as adults. I believe the Holy Spirit had been working in my heart and had his hand upon me to come to salvation at just the right time. Even though my problems didn’t disappear overnight, I was at peace knowing that God was in control of my life.
A Daily Assignment of Rest. Much has transpired in my life these 40 years as a follower of Jesus, including marriage to my godly husband, David, and three adult children who are following Jesus. Since retiring from a 45-year nursing career, my time in prayer and study of the Word has grown intentionally and energetically. My daily assignment from the Master is to seek his face and rest in his arms. My calling is to be to others what the Lord is to me.
The circumstances of my life have changed, especially in 2011 with the sudden homegoing of my husband after a brief six-week illness. But this I know: God is faithful, and He will never change. He is with me and will never leave me or forsake me. My future is in the hands of Jesus, my perfect high priest and mediator, the one who intercedes for me at the throne of grace.
Therefore, He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them. — Hebrews 7:25
Ann Lawrenz has been a member of College Church for more than 25 years.
Ann is active in a small group and Women’s Bible Study and joins her voice to pray for the persecuted at the Friday prayer group for the persecuted church.
Though retired, it’s safe to say about Ann, once a nurse, always a nurse.