Sue Johnson, who was born Solveig Sagedahl in Norway, shared her testimony recently at a ladies’ breakfast I attended.
In 1940, when she was 3, her family looked out the window and saw German tanks rolling into her town of 5,000. Young Solveig and her older brother Ola were sent to a remote mountain farm for a few weeks, and when they returned to Flekkefjord, the place didn’t look the same. The school was camouflaged to house enemy soldiers and blackout laws were in effect. People hid their revered national flags in the attic.
The Sagedahl house was coveted for its lofty location overlooking the fjord, now full of German U-boats. The Nazis had commandeered the two properties on either side of them, so the family prayed that God would spare their house, which they believed He had given to them. (Her grandfather had been converted on a ship in New York Harbor in the 1880s.) In the course of time, a staff car attempted to climb their steep hill but failed. A motorcycle followed but fared no better.
One day, little Solveig went out to play with a little boy with golden curls and for some reason decided to come home early. Shortly after her departure, her friend stepped on a landmine while chasing a ball. Years later her mother told her a part of the story she had previously not mentioned: When the boy was dying on his bed, he called his mother’s attention to an angel in the room. His mother saw nothing. The boy said, “He’s come to take me home.”
At age 13, Solveig saw a number of her friends give their lives to Jesus but she was more interested in adventure. At age 17, she booked passage on a ship to New York and became a nanny to the daughter of Milton Berle, “Mr. Television” himself, although she had never seen a TV. But she remained dissatisfied with her life, and Sue (as she called herself now) thought marriage would fill the hole in her life. Marriage was good but the hole remained, so she thought children would fill it. She loved her three children but the God-shaped gap was still empty.
One day, on Route 206 in New Jersey (I know the road well), a man was adamantly determined to pass Sue, and uncharacteristically she allowed him to do so. Moments later, a gravel truck coming the wrong way hit and killed the man in the car that had passed. Unharmed, Sue went home and realized that if she had died that day, she had no reason to think she would go to heaven. Sue said to God, “I give up!” and asked Him to come into her life and do whatever He wanted with her.
I write her anecdotes down only to remind myself that everybody has a story with God, with a beginning and a middle and an end. The grandfather, the blond-haired boy, the converted childhood friends, the accident on 206—these are dots to connect, and a testimony to tell.
If you look back on your own life, reader, you will see too how God has been there all along: calling, wooing, loving.