Christi Johnston did something I’ve never seen before.
She put her well-worn brown Bible on the stage where she was speaking and placed her foot on top of the book.
Was she trying to be disrespectful to the word of God?
No, she was making a point.
When we’re facing trials, we need to stand firmly on God’s word.
In other words, we must keep believing God’s promises and his truth — especially amid life’s storms and battles.
Christi knows something about storms.
And she talked about them at the Nebraska Christian Women’s Conference in West Point a few weeks ago.
Christi and her husband, Jamie, have two daughters, Megan and Hannah, and they live in Russellville, Ark.
To look at Christi — a stylish and pretty blonde with huge blue eyes — you’d think her life was perfect.
But she’s known deep sadness and the need to trust God in tough situations.
Years ago, Christi became very ill with a virus when she was pregnant with her second daughter, Hannah.
Christi recovered, but later got some jarring news. She had an ultrasound and when her doctor looked at it, he saw extra fluid on Hannah’s brain and small specks in her spinal fluid.
The spots meant Hannah had an infection in her brain.
“I was devastated,” Christi said.
Christi was sent to a specialist and learned she’d contracted a rare, airborne virus that had laid dormant in her body for a long time. That virus was passed on to her unborn baby.
Tests revealed that Hannah would be born missing half her brain.
“That’s hard,” Christi said, fighting tears. “No mother wants to experience that — or even think about that.”
For Christi, the situation didn’t make sense. She and her husband were active in their church and Sunday school. The worst thing she’d ever consumed was a diet cola.
Christi wondered what she’d done wrong.
The diagnosis was grim. Hannah might not even live. And if she did, she’d have several disabilities.
Christi later gave birth to a 6-pound, 11-ounce baby girl who looked so perfect that even the nurses wondered if she might have been misdiagnosed.
But tests indicated Hannah would never walk or talk, was deaf in her left ear and legally blind.
After Hannah was born, Christi went into a deep, post-partum depression. She was lonely and struggled with self-condemnation.
She felt like the enemy of her soul had backed her into a corner and she was sinking into a hole.
“And I couldn’t find my way out,” she said.
So one night, Christi went into her bedroom and told God she couldn’t leave until he delivered her from the depression and self-condemnation.
“When you’re desperate for God to move, you’ll do desperate things,” she said.
Christi laid her Bible on the floor, put her foot on it and told the Lord she was standing on his word.
She surrendered the fear and self-condemnation to Jesus and asked him to take it from her.
“I felt that weight lift off of my body,” she said. “That depression and that weight that was holding me down that made me feel like I was nothing … all of a sudden I felt the sweet presence of Jesus. I was standing on his word and I had my hands lifted.”
Her tears dried.
That night, the Lord also brought Christi the words found in the ninth chapter of the book of John in the Bible.
In this account, Jesus and his disciples see a man who’d been blind from birth.
“Who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?” the disciples ask.
Jesus answers: “It’s not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be glorified.”
“That night when he (Christ) delivered me — that’s exactly what he told me. I didn’t do anything wrong,” Christi said. “I just got sick.”
Day after day, Christi grew stronger in her walk with Christ.
And as she began to see her own circumstances in light of this story, Christi started to see how God’s plan was going to be fulfilled in Hannah’s life.
“There have been literally hundreds of souls saved, because of my Hannah — and she’s never spoken a word,” Christi said. “The enemy had a plot, but my God had a plan for Hannah.”
Today, Hannah is 14 years old.
She’s in a wheelchair and has always been tube fed. She’s legally blind and has never yet spoken a word — yet.
Christi rocks Hannah like a baby every night.
“All she knows love,” Christi said. “Can you imagine? All you know is love and hugs and kisses?”
Life isn’t easy, but Christi knows Jesus can provide joy, peace and strength and rest in the storms of life.
And Christi knows she can’t rely on her own strength — but must depend on God.
“We go through those tests and trials to have a testimony, to say, ‘I’m more than a conqueror. God is good. He’s alive in me and he’s given me the strength to make it through—to come out victorious on the other side,’” she said.
Christi stressed the importance of reading God’s word.
“He’s given us the instruction manual (the Bible) of how to live our lives victorious in Him,” Christi said. “Are we going to have bad days? Absolutely. Are we going to have days when we don’t feel as strong or powerful? Yes. But the key is being steadfast and consistent in your walk with him. He never promised it would be easy, but he said it would be worth it.”
No problem is too big for Jesus.
“If he carried the weight of the world on his shoulders, I think he can carry me,” she said.
She’s learned many other things.
“I can tell you this: He’s an on-time God. He’s rarely ever early. He is never late, but he’s right on time.”
She knows the importance of placing faith in Christ and maintaining a positive attitude.
“Your attitude and your heart posture going through your trial makes all the difference in the world,” she said.
She noted something else.
“What you focus on, you magnify,” she said. “Look at your perspectives today. If you’re talking more about your problem than your God then we need to have a flip-flop. We need to tell the fear to sit down and the faith to stand up.”
Christi is sustained by God and her faith in him.
And she has a heavenly perspective.
“What excites me is that I have a promise and I have a hope that if Jesus chooses not to heal her on this side of eternity … that I have a promise in heaven that I will see my little girl walk. I will see her talk. I can’t wait to hear her say, ‘Mama, I love you. Thank you for brushing my teeth. Thank you for combing my hair’ … I know she knows she’s loved,” Christi said.
Christi also knows that God promises to never leave nor forsake us — and how he can get us through the storms of life.
“Not every storm is meant to harm you,” she said. “Sometimes, it pushes you to your destiny.”
It will be interesting to see where Christi goes as she travels with the Lord ever further into her destiny.
One thing I think we can be sure of:
She’ll enter that destiny standing on the word of God.