The meaning of 7 Bells
Announcing time with bells aboard a sailing ship is an ancient tradition dating back to the 15th century. It was adopted by mariners because knowing the time was important. Using a bell meant that everyone, no matter where they were on the ship, would know the time — even in fog and darkness. This method of marking time spread by communal usage because all seafarers share citizenship in a single nation: the sea.
The eighth bell sounds the end of the last watchman shift. Seven bells is right before “the end”. In sailor-speak, “8 bells” is the euphemism for death. The sea/mariner analogy is fitting to this ministry because people who need our help are dangerously adrift in life, lost in fog and darkness, approaching the rocks and may be in their final hour. The seventh bell calls out to them that they are not alone; but, time is of the essence for you to accept and receive help.
I’m Wendy, and this is my rescue story.
I tell my story often so you all know the God that I live for; the hope that wakes me up each day, and how I miraculously lived to see today. I find my own story so amazing, I never get tired of telling it. God has used it over and over again to pull someone from the edge of death. I feel privileged to be chosen by Him and cherish what He has done with all the wreckage I created with my life. I live every day desiring to give hope to someone who really needs to know that God can restore their life from the worse situations imaginable.
By the time I was 17, I knew I was in trouble. I was battling serious emotional, mental and spiritual issues. I was ready to explode from all of the pent up anger inside myself. I was afraid of what that was going to look like when I could no longer contain it. I had lived a life free of addictions up to that time.
One day, I had my first drink in the form of a dessert. Miraculously, I found the solution to my anger. Drinking. It fixed everything for me. The next 8 years were a terrible mess of addictions; I drank constantly. I battled severe eating disorders, became part of a hard partying crowd wherever I lived, was often suicidal and was hanging in clubs nearly every night; addicted to rock music, amphetamines and chaotic parties. I could preach an entire sermon on the power of music in one’s life. I became what I listened to. When I am somewhere and hear that music, I can still feel the rush of energy that I did back in that day; only now, I am very sure who gave me that energy and who will quickly give it to me, again, if I will just go back to the music and the temptations that go with it.
This lifestyle resulted in a violent assault at age 23. My life changed forever at that time. I lost my desire to live after that incident. I didn’t want anyone touching me for many years following that encounter-including myself. I was hostile and withdrawn and did much more excessive drinking in the privacy of my apartment. It is a complete wonder that I lived because of how much I was able to drink. There are large periods of time I don’t remember. I could fully participate in life for weeks and not remember any of it. Amazingly, all these years, I worked full time. I prided myself in saying that I didn’t need anyone. I had good jobs, because I became whatever was expected of me and could somehow present well. You can do this when you have no clue who you really are. However, in order to do this, I was intoxicated all day……….all night………..every day.
At 26, my life came to a physical end. I was extremely sick from the eating disorders and excessive drinking plus various mixtures of pills. I was extremely thin, yet very swollen, dangerously dehydrated and shaking violently all the time from alcohol tremors. Now, I was unable to even function because of the shaking and vomited even water. Many thought I was going to die. Many expected me to commit suicide for reasons unknown to me. They just kept checking on me to make sure I was alive. Many could hardly stand to be around me because of the death that poured from my mouth in the form of profanity or hopelessness.
I was too sick to even try to explain here. I knew I wasn’t going to live very much longer. My mental health was in crisis. My paranoia was severe. I went to 12 different churches trying to find hope that I could stay out of hell and the 12 pastors each told me I needed to go to detox and come see them after I was sobered up. I gave up on church because I knew there was no way I could get off drugs/alcohol to return for help. Living sober was not an option for me with the level of torment in my mind.
My little sister, Renee, experienced a miraculous encounter with God. I was dumbfounded at the change in her and felt such peace and safety around her. She gave me one condition to being with her and that was to keep my mouth shut because she couldn’t handle all the profanity and distress that poured from me. She would talk to me about God and her new experience, but I simply was unable to process a simple conversation in the state I was in. My mind was destroyed. I wasn’t showing up for work and two of my co-workers came and forced me to go to Urgent care. I told the doctor that I was very sick and needed something to help me with stress. He asked me why I was shaking so badly and gave me a prescription for tranquilizers and told me to return the following week for a greater examination. I knew next week wasn’t likely to come. The next day, my sister came and brought me to meet her pastor, Loren Molskness. He passionately shared words with me, but I couldn’t understand anything he was saying. I finally told him he was wasting his time because my mind couldn’t follow him and he said, “Jesus Christ can cut right through that.” I heard that! I thought on that for 3 days. In fact, I still think on that. I believe that you can lead someone in a coma to Christ because of that statement! I certainly know you can minister to a dangerously intoxicated person. Many of them are like me; they cannot sober up to hear truth. He also asked me what I was holding onto. I still think on that, also, when things are restless for me.
The pastor prayed with me and I left. I was in utter turmoil and within 48 hours, took the overdose of drugs and alcohol that should have sent me to hell. My only thought was that hell could not be worse than what I was experiencing; the greatest lie I had believed so far. I was driving away from where I had been staying so I could be alone and was pulled over for a DUI. I was taken to jail where they tried to make sense of my incoherent rambling for a few hours. At that time, they tested my blood alcohol at .245 and realized that I had taken pills, also. The police wanted to take me to the psych ward in another city except they were concerned for my life and asked if I had family that could come and immediately take me to the hospital. My sister came and took me back to the pastor and his wife. She kept saying, “My God is not going to let you die.” Over and over, she repeated those words. The pastor’s wife, Barb Molskness took me alone to her basement (where she would get alone with God) and I remember hearing her crying as I was draped over her shoulder. We were on the floor. There is a longer version of this story, but I will tell you her account briefly. She said she had never seen anything like the condition I was in. She knew I was going to die if Jesus did not come and help me immediately. My sister had told her not to pray in the spirit because she said it would freak me out. She prayed herself until she said she had no choice but to pray in the spirit. I can still hear that voice and those words to this day in my head. “Come to me, little girl.” Over and over I heard that cry. But the words were different than that. As I thought on those words, later, I realized that the cry I heard in my head was not even in the English language. I can still hear those words, as well. I am essentially unconscious, but interpreting her spirit language inside my head. She asked me to repeat after her, “I renounce you, Satan.” Twice. She said I went instantly limp and she thought I had either died or she pictured in her mind the places in the Bible where a demoniac was freed by Jesus and the person appeared dead. She chose to believe that. She left me to sleep until about 3 hours later, my sister woke me up and I was a totally different person. I was completely physically well, very peaceful, never went through any withdrawal, and didn’t even remember that I smoked cigarettes for 6 months. I have never used drugs or alcohol since that day 32 years ago. I even looked different. People were stunned. They would call me and ask what happened to me. My old friends were so freaked out; many didn’t want me around them, which was painful, but a blessing. My new obsession was to find the One that had healed me; the One that gave me the amazing peace in my mind after years of torment. I have pursued Him ever since more than all else. I went to every Bible Study I could find for years. I was in church every time the door was open. I went out looking for the hopeless from the start. I was just bubbling over with that hope that had eluded me my entire life. I still marvel that 32 years later, I can feel that same excitement about that day. My lowest day and my highest day were the same day for those of you who think it is so bad now that it will take forever to clean up the mess you are in!
Needless to say, my mind needed to be brought under submission to Christ. That is a lifelong process, but here is what works for me every single time my mind starts to rage against me. Get out a pad and paper and start copying out of the Bible word for word. Your mind will submit to the Word of God. I promise. Write until it does. Start with Psalm 119 and my second favorite was 2 Samuel 22.
I was advised and found out early that the best way to beat depression and anxiety/fear is to serve someone else. I never had to look far to see that someone was struggling. Many times, I just sat with them; went to a movie; sat at a park; went for walks; simple inexpensive things. Listening is a great ministry. I worked full-time, yet decided to find volunteer activities to do instead of sitting home at night and watching TV or just loitering my time away. I spent 2 nights a week at Youth for Christ with kids who really needed attention and a place to hang out. I spent one day a weekend at the treatment center volunteering in the bookstore (where my ministry partner, Tatiana Ermeloff-Hart, and I first met in the mid 90s) or doing crafts with those in treatment. I loved every minute of these times and overcame my depression as a result. I want to tell you that my depression was so severe that it had been a regular part of my life since I was a young and had caused me to think of suicide nearly every day of my teen life and to that point. Knowing Jesus Christ and serving others is the combination that still keeps my life purpose filled and worth living. I have never changed that order for my life. I continue to this day, doing exactly the same -and still remaining free from that crippling depression that plagued my early life.
My life is a great story. I am very thankful today. I have lived longer than anyone ever thought I would!!
It is a privilege to have been able to share this with you. I have 32 years of sobriety and Jesus. 32 years of Jesus has meant 32 years of never needing anything else, again.
Isaiah 43:1-3. Says… ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.’ “