“The cross is really the solution in every situation,” says Fedora. “You know, at home with my six children, they are watching me. And more than anything I want to show them that the cross really works! This is how you live. This is a true, real life!”
Fedora is a happy person. With a face that shines with warmth and goodness, she tells about how she came to a “crucified” life with Jesus.
“As I was growing up I found that I really had a bad temper. So much anger, you know. If just a little thing happened, I would get angry.
“I remember I cried about this. I prayed: ‘Lord Jesus, when will I be done with this?’ But then Dad told me, ‘Only the cross will make you free. And when you’re free, when the truth makes you free, you’re truly free.’” (John 8:32.)
Her first reaction was, “Dad, I don’t know. I think this temper… I will always have it.”
The cross made me truly free
It was hard for Fedora to believe that it was possible for her to stop getting so angry. She kept feeling her temper rising up inside, especially when she was with her brothers and sisters. But then her prayers were answered - she got a real faith in what Jesus says in Luke 9:23 (CEB):
“All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me.”
She chose quite simply to believe what she read in the Bible. She got faith that it was completely possible to follow Jesus in her own life, He who Himself had said No to the sinful desires in His human nature, every single day, in all situations. (Hebrews 2:'14-17; 4:14.)
“There were lots of times that I fell, where it didn't succeed. But I didn't give up. And as time went by, my faith grew. More and more I started to win battles,” she says. To fight against what you are tempted to is like a battle you are fighting in a war. In the inner battle against her anger and irritation, she was starting to overcome more and more.
What does it take to overcome?
“I needed to take Gods Word and do it; at home – where I was losing my temper.”
It sounds so simple when she talks about it. Her peace and confidence when she talks is amazing, and it is clear that this is something she has experienced and put into practice. But what does it take to overcome?
I ask her if there is a specific verse in the Bible that has helped her. She answers quickly, “For me, when I was young, these verses in Ephesians 6 helped me a lot. About putting on the full armour of God. To overcome in the situations, I really needed the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, as it is written there.”
“Put on all the armor that God gives you, so that you will be able to stand up against the Devil's evil tricks … At all times carry faith as a shield; for with it you will be able to put out all the burning arrows shot by the Evil One. And accept salvation as a helmet, and the word of God as the sword which the Spirit gives you. Do all this in prayer, asking for God's help. Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God's people.” Ephesians 6:11,16-18 (GNT).
“I have to prepare myself. Because it is a battle!” she says. “I have to pray. I have to read Gods Word. For me, I had to do that every day. I couldn’t succeed without that.”
She talks excitedly about how she, by the help of prayer and God’s Word, received power and help to crucify (to say No to) the sinful things that she was tempted to.
Paul wrote: “I have been crucified with Christ …” Galatians 2:20. Paul was not crucified on a physical cross. He uses this expression as a symbol to describe that his own will that wanted to do sin was “crucified”. Our sins should “be crucified”, they should be “on the cross”, they should die, and should therefore not control our actions anymore. People who live a “crucified life” don’t let sin control their actions. They overcome sin.
As time went on, Fedora noticed that her temper became less and less of a problem. Instead, God helped her to be patient and kind towards her brothers and sisters.
“And to overcome like that… it just filled me with lots of joy!” she says with a big smile. “That is how it was for me. Lots of joy. The cross really made me free. And then when I got older, I could say: 'I am crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.'"
Still needs the cross
Fedora speaks with a simple and calm confidence. This is a life she has already lived for many years, and of which she can boldly testify that it works. But has she come so far that she no longer needs the cross?
“Oh no!” she says. “I need the cross more than ever.”
Even though she has overcome in many areas in her life, she will tell you that God goes on to show her new areas where there is still some sin that she should get rid of - things that she didn’t see as sin before.
And as a mother of six children, she sometimes finds her old temper trying to come up again. When her children argue and complain, and everyone wants her attention at once, she feels the frustration inside. But she knows how to fight the battle. She knows that she does not need to give in to the temptation to become angry. “I am still working on that area of anger. Many battles have been won. But I am still tempted to get angry, I am still fighting against that “enemy”. But I believe with all my heart that one day that “enemy” will be totally overcome.”
During her busy days, she doesn’t have as much time to read God’s Word as she did when she was younger. She says that singing songs of faith is a great help. Singing songs written by godly men and women who have lived a faithful life brings a good spirit into the home.
“Sometimes everything in me wants to say, ‘Everyone be quiet!’ ‘Go to your room’ – and of course, sometimes you have to do that,” she quickly adds, “But first I have to be calm, and then I can organise the children,” she says with a laugh.
I ask her what she would say to someone who does not believe in the power and help of the cross to overcome in temptations.
“If they don’t believe, I’ll say, ‘Try it first. Try it! And if it doesn't help you, then I don’t know, I would be really surprised,’” she says.
“But try it, because Jesus’ Spirit is so powerful that it can help in every situation.”