Resting Under the Apple Tree

The Personal Testimony Of Michelle Hunt

In giving my testimony, I suppose I could begin with my first emotional experience. It was when I was around seven or eight years old and I began to experience the desire to go to heaven. So, just as many other people, I was led down the aisle and told to repeat a prayer, and then that was followed by baptism. Well, from then on I thought I was saved. I remember several times as a teenager, doing things very ungodly and I would think to myself, 'If I'm saved how could I be doing so much wrong?' And not only that, why would I wantto? Because I was always taught that once you were saved, your desires would change.

Many times as a teenager, I would find myself testing my salvation by praying silly little prayers like, "Okay, God I haven't studied for my test I am going to take today, so, let me make an 'A' on it and that will let me know that I'm saved." Well, I would make an 'A,' and I thought, 'that proves it, I'm saved.'I would struggle so often with this question of salvation. But I went on with life convincing myself I was saved.

Later on in life, or to be precise, on February 08, 1990, I met a former school acquaintance named Robert Hunt. And then on April 22, 1990, he and I were married. We then began going to church faithfully. It was at a Church of God church, but that was a start. Then on May 25, 1991, God blessed us with a baby girl who we named Kielie Mary Jane Hunt. And it was then when I began to think about salvation again. So, one night, as Kielie lay in her crib, at the side of our bed, I began to think to myself, 'Are you sure you're saved? Because, you have a child to bring up in this awful world.'So, I knew I definitely needed to make sure, because I also knew I would need patience for sure. So, I woke Robert up and told him, I thought that I was lost. With him knowing what he had always been taught, he asked me if I believed and so forth. You know how it goes, I agreed. I went on to sleep thinking I had gotten saved that night. Well, by that time, we were going to a baptist church. So, the following Sunday, I announced my salvation experience. The pastor immediately brought to my attention the need for baptism. I agreed, because I wanted to be right with God. The need for my baptism made Robert realize that he had not been baptized either. So, my pastor planned it on the following Sunday night.

When it was time to be baptized I began to ask myself, 'What does baptism mean, and how am I supposed to react to it?'As a result, when my pastor was getting ready, I tried so hard to work up some emotion. Because I thought surely since this was supposed to be washing away my sins, then I should cry some tears of joy. Afterwards, I went on with life again, believing I was saved. I became extremely religious. I would try so hard to be a good wife and mother, because by this time I had found out that we were expecting another baby in July. Then, as the doctor promised, on July 11, 1992, God blessed us with another child, and this one was a boy. We named him Samuel Meshach Wayne Hunt.

Several months after Samuel's birth, Robert informed me that God was calling him to preach. I accepted this and determined to stick beside him.

Then a couple more months passed, and Robert was invited to preach at a little church in Nettleton, Mississippi. We liked it and felt like God was calling us out of the church we were going to at the time, and into the church in Nettleton. Because we knew we could 'help' these people in Nettleton. So, we changed our membership. The church was seeking a pastor, and they invited another preacher the following Sunday. That's when we met Brother Harvey DeVaghn. We immediately became friends with him and his wife.

We then were invited by Brother Harvey to a revival in Nettleton, at a different church, where a man named Edgar Paschall was preaching. Robert went the first night, and he came home telling me all about this preacher. He said, "Michelle, I've never heard anybody preach like this man. You can really feel the presence of God in this church." That immediately got my attention, so I couldn't wait until the next night. Of course, I went with Robert to listen to this 'great preacher,'not knowing at the time, that was exactly what God wanted me to do. Well, I listened to the word Brother Edgar preached that night, and heard more that night then I had heard all my life in church.

Because of this preacher, I definitely wanted to continue going to church there. So, Robert and I discussed it and decided to move our membership to Eureka Baptist Church. The people there gladly accepted us in and treated us wonderfully. We went to church there for several months, and were to have a revival in August, I believe; and guess who was preaching? You may have guessed. Yes, it was Brother Edgar Paschall.

The second night of the revival, Brother Edgar was preaching and I was listening 'hard.' Then I began to repeat to myself, "Oh, God I'm LOST!" At that moment I knew I wasn't going to get out of that church without bursting, if I didn't tell everyone what God had just revealed to me, which was that I was definitely lost. So I stood up staggering, and began to tell the church, "I'm LOST and know it." Well, all I heard then was, 'Amen,' out of Brother Paschall's mouth with a smile on his face. This really confused me. But, as soon as I said, "I'm lost,"a great feeling of relief came over me and at that moment I felt more peace than I had felt my entire life. And I was actually happy.

I thank Brother Paschall for being obedient to what God wanted him to preach. But in spite of how peaceful I felt that night, I was lost and knew it. So, of course that moment is when the devil really began working on me.

I remember so many times that I thought I should pray to God that He would do what ever it takes. But, I just couldn't bring myself to pray this. Because I was scared of what it might take. Like, I wondered if it would take the death of one of my children, or even the death of my husband. So, I would quickly try to forget that prayer.

Months passed with me trying to make myself read my Bible, pray, and try to make myself feel guilty for being lost. Well, I got tired very quickly, so I began to feel very bitter at God and everybody, so I began to rebel. I started desiring the things of the world, that is material things. So, I begged Robert to let me go to work for months; I begged him. I began to hate even being alive. I would find myself thinking of ways just to get it over with (this ongoing misery). But, I always 'chickened out'even in my thoughts. So, I finally after months of begging Robert agreed to let me go to work for him in a pizza shop. He was the manager at the time, and he hired me only because he really needed some workers.

We worked together for a few months. But then Robert and I were led to believe that he was very ill and needed to be hospitalized. So, he went into the hospital and I became Mom and Dad to my children. I began working two jobs, and so at this point I never had time for church, or God for that matter. Then one thing led to another and before long, I was putting in to be manager of the store in Nettleton, which is where our church was located. By this time Robert was out of the hospital, but still unable to work. I was so used to making the decisions, that I decided to move us to Nettleton. Well, this is where our troubles began.

I began to care less and less about church or God. I was just going to start making money and show people that I could make something out of my life with or without God. I began to chase the world's idea of happiness. By this time, I had already begun to point my finger at so many 'Christians,'because I felt they were leading Robert and me wrong.

I became extremely bitter and made a decision to never trust anyone again. I made so many decisions based on this bitterness, and hate, that I hurt a lot of innocent people. But nevertheless, that's how I felt.

I began to bury myself in my work. I would use it for an excuse not to go to church. I buried myself in my work so deep that I hardly went home to sleep. My desire for the world became much, much stronger. So strong that I had decided to throw away my marriage and God. I decided to run; run far away. I also decided, to 'never'have anything to do with church, church people, or even God, ever again. I convinced myself, (with the devil's help), that there wasn't really a God, that people just made Him up for fun or just something to do I guess. So, by this point any amount of hope I might have had was gone. And if I even had a little hope, I threw it down with everything else.

I packed my things, and the children's things, and left. I ran all the way to South Dakota. I suppose I thought if I ran thirteen hundred miles away, that I would forget and start over.

I guess it worked, until one day, just like any other day, the kids and I went to the mailbox. In the mailbox, there was a letter from Robert. I was so excited that I just sat down at the mailbox to read it. And in that letter, I found hope as I began to read about Karen Hill. Robert wrote in this letter, about a lady that had gotten saved in his church. And how when she got saved that the church rang a bell and sang a song. A song about the angels singing because a child had been saved. Well, this is where a bell began to ring in me. A bell of HOPE.Robert and I began to write back and forth for a while and through this I began to stop wanting worldly things as much.

I remember one night after receiving that letter from Robert, (I guess it was about two or three in the morning), I couldn't sleep, so I got out of bed and decided to go jogging. Well, after jogging, I stopped in front of my apartment window and laid down on the grass to rest. And as I laid there, I began to look up at the stars. At that moment, I felt something stirring inside me. Then it's as if a voice said, "Look around at all my creation." And I began to whisper to myself, "God, I'm so tired of reaching for the stars."I didn't understand fully at that time, and I quickly tried to forget it. But something was still stirring inside me.

I guess a couple of days later is when I decided I was going home. So my dad came and got me and took me home. When I got home to Mississippi, Robert invited me to go to church with him. I went and after the service, Robert took me upstairs to speak with the pastor.

When I walked into his office, I immediately put on my defense and decided I was going to tell this preacher exactly how I felt. I wasn't going to hold anything back. So, I told Brother Terry Owen that I didn't even believe in God, and that I didn't trust ANYONE, and I was very skeptical. But, I decided that day, despite how I felt, I was going to keep going to church there. I suppose what led me to that decision, was the fact that Brother Terry looked at me right in the face and told me he understood. Well, so many 'preachers' had done that before. But it was somehow different this time. I now know that it was God looking out of Brother Terry's eyes at me with love and compassion. That day as I left his office I decided to just go forward from there. I was tired of being stagnant. I went to Grace Baptist Church every time there were services, if I could get there.

The church began talking about a festival of joy. They were planning what to do, and when to do it. Just details of the festival. I would sit there and listen to them plan. Then one night they got to questions of kitchen help. Brother Terry and his wife asked me if I would like to be on the kitchen staff. I said, "Sure,"but yet I was torn. I wanted to be in every service to hear all the preaching I could, and yet I wanted to help, too. I didn't have to say anything to anyone about my trouble, because God knew. The following Sunday night Mrs. Connie walked up and told me that maybe I should wait this festival out to observe, if that was okay with me. I was greatly relieved, so I promptly accepted her offer.

Well, the festival finally came. It was the Wednesday night before the festival that the ladies asked if I would like to help serve on Thursday night. I gladly accepted, and on Thursday night I went to work in my favorite place, the kitchen. I cannot explain the joy I had getting to be a part of the serving that evening. I had such a wonderful time.

After dinner we had service. It was a giving service, and after the preacher and his wife ate, we went over to the church. People began giving to one another, not only material gifts, but also encouragement, love, and hope. This is where I really began seeing the love of God. Because through the people of Grace, God loved and nurtured me.

That night Audrie Paschall Huskins, gave me a gift. Yes me. Someone she hardly even knew. But it wasn't the material gift that touched me as much as it was the fact that she just thought of me.

A lot of things happened that night, but God still wasn't through with me. He then loved on me some more through Brother Jim Grapp. He too, thought of me and he gave more than a material gift; he gave me HOPE!

Needless to say, I was shocked by the whole night. So, I went home thinking about everything that had happened. I decided that night I had to go back all day on Friday. I told myself that I was going to have to not worry about work on Friday. Because, at this point I didn't care if I lost my job or not. I had to go to church all day on Friday! My Grandmother was going to take me to church on Friday so the kids and I got up early and got ready. Grandmother got there around eleven o'clock in the morning, and we left. I had to make a couple of stops on the way so we didn't get to church until later. They were dismissing church until the evening services. I was a little disappointed, but yet eager to listen to the evening preaching.

We came back for the evening service and I came with my eyes, ears, and heart wide open. Man, I needed God bad! Brother Tim Rutherford was preaching this session. He began to preach on the beatitudes. God began to give me faith by showing how far He had brought me. I then realized, 'Hey, I'm closer to God than I thought.' I cried the whole time Brother Tim preached. As he was getting ready to close the service, my little girl had to go to the restroom. So, I took her, and I kept telling her to hurry. After what seemed like hours, she finally finished. We walked back into the sanctuary and I saw everyone at the alter. I gasped for breath and thought to myself, 'Oh, now I missed God.' Then immediately something Brother Terry said came to my mind. He had said that if you know where God is moving in people, go crawl in amongst them.

I headed down the left side of the church and crawled right between Brother Dan Huskins and Sandra Bramlitt. The minute my body hit the floor, I felt Jesus above me. I was actually at his feet. I began to grasp onto His feet wrapping my hand and arms around them. I remember crying, "I can't God!" At that moment Brother Terry began to sing Jesus Loves Me in my ear. All I knew at that time was that I wasn't letting go of His feet. I felt like I was so desperately holding onto Him, that I was going to pinch His feet off. I was so tired. Then it was as if God whispered to me, "Just rest, it's okay. Just rest, it's over".

By this time, Brother Terry was asking, "What's going on, Michelle, what's going on?" All I could say was, "I don't know," as my body lay limp, without any energy, at Jesus feet. Then I heard Brother Terry say, "Just rest in God's love, just rest in it."I rested for what seemed like a lifetime. Finally, I got up and went to my seat in a daze. I was trying to figure out what had happened.

I didn't hear anything else that was said that whole night. Until, I spoke with Brother Terry. I asked him, "How could God have saved me if I didn't get up yelling and screaming." He told me about his experience and said for me to think about one thing, Was God there? I thought about that all night, because I knew He was definitely there. But, I have had so many false experiences, I didn't want another one. I wanted to be sure.

The following day was Saturday. We went through regular services. During one of the sermons, I got a headache, so I went to the fellowship hall to get a couple of Tylenols. This is where I found Mrs. Karen Hill. We began talking, and I guess I took the conversation over. I began to tell her what happened the night before. She just listened quietly, and though I didn't know it, I was sorting out what had happened. After speaking with her, I felt much better.

We went ahead and served lunch. Robert and I fixed our plated and sat down at the table together. As we were eating, we began to talk. I hadn't got to tell him about Friday night, so I was telling him about it. He just listened to me just like Karen did, until he looked at me and asked, "Well, are you lost?" As soon as he asked that question, a warm soothing voice within said, "NO, you're not LOST Michelle, I SAVED YOU, YOU ARE MINE!"I began to cry uncontrollably. I was so thankful for Life!! That was night, God impressed a sermon on Brother Tim Rutherford. A sermon about how God gives some people just a taste of Him. Just like you would taste of an apple. And how some people would pick an apple from a tree, take a bite, throw it down, and keep walking. But on the other hand, there are some who pick the apple, take a taste, then sit under the apple tree's shade and eat all the apple. Well, needless to say I got a taste of God's love and sat down in His shadow, and I'm still enjoying it.

"I'll forever rest in His shadow, under the apple tree!"