In both branches of my family tree, God in his grace made Himself known to every single member of both of my parents’ families, and almost every one of them made a decision for Christ. That was a terrific heritage I was privileged to grow up under; and I know that much prayer was sent to Heaven on my behalf. I grew up in a home where God and the Bible were taken seriously, not just mentioned on Sundays as the “appropriate thing to do”, but lavished upon us three girls for all situations and opportunities that life presented.
From my earliest memories, Pastor J. Vernon McGee had breakfast with us every single day via the radio; I still remember the little opening song the quartet would sing announcing his message. My mom, bustling about the kitchen would listen, absorbing what she could. And through the day, we could often find her at her desk, deep in study of her Bible, with open concordance and texts from commentators on Greek and Hebrew nearby.
It had an enormous impact on me, though not in a conscious way at the time, because I thought everybody lived this way, daily taking in God’s word in various ways. Booklets of the Daily Bread were strewn on tabletops, open Bibles in a variety of versions, Bible verses jotted down could be found on bed-tables, and prayer was said around our home spontaneously, as needed, not just at mealtimes and bed.
All of this involvement with God invaded my little brain when I was about 5 or 6; I don’t remember exactly how old I was, but I remember clearly going to bed one night, thinking, if I die, where would I go? I became very agitated about it, wrestling because I could not say for sure.
I hopped out of bed, went downstairs, found my mom and told her my problem; and right then and there, she hugged me and explained to me the simple gospel message that did I understand that I was a sinner? Yes, I did do some naughty things once in a while, for sure.
Well, she explained, God can’t allow sin in his presence, but He wants to have a relationship with us sinners. So he sent his perfect Son to die on the cross in my place, bearing the burden for my sin and all the sins of the world. All that I had to do was accept that free gift- there was nothing I could add to it.
I made a decision right there that I wanted to be in Heaven with God someday and accepted Jesus as my personal Savior. With that done, I went back to bed and slept soundly, now knowing where I was bound and having a great sense of security.
My life went along, and as most people do, I had my share of struggles and minor bumps along the way. But overall, I was living my life with vast amounts of knowledge, but not much application in my heart.
In fact, I’m ashamed of it now, but when I was 16, I met Mark on a blind date; and I really liked him a lot. But I had a very selfish motive to share the gospel with him. I knew my parents never would allow me to date a boy who was not a believer in Christ; so early in our friendship one day, I candidly told him “Mark, you’re a sinner and you’re headed to hell.”
There was not much of a gentle spirit in it; I had selfish motivations, I wanted to date this cute boy and this pesky “issue” stood in my way. Well, God used that literal and unpolished delivery of His truth to actually remove the blinders from Marks’ eyes and he became saved that very day! Obviously God had been preparing and bringing Mark along from a very young age to respond even to this most ripe form of gospel telling!
We dated and eventually married and life was rolling along fine and, although I shared the gospel with others when opportunity arose, and lived life with the pattern of when I sinned I would confess, I didn’t have the same fervor I’d had as a young girl.
But God knew just what it would take to get my entire focus back on Him; after 5 years of marriage, we had our first baby. I will never forget bringing our little Hannah home.
I remember walking into her freshly painted room, setting her little carrier on the floor and falling to my knees weeping over how undone I was – how utterly insufficient I was – I was looking back over my own life where I’d been given every advantage by loving, caring parents who had taught me, yet I had chosen poorly at times – I wanted more for my little girl!
I wanted her to know and understand the priceless gift of having Christ be at the front of everything she did – to not squander the opportunities and really, the gift of growing up in a home where people invested in her and prayed for her and had dreams of her being an instrument to glorify God.
I cried out to God to help me – How could I raise this precious little baby to love Him and live for Him?? What an enormous task – I couldn’t possibly do it on my own! I wept and prayed and begged God to help me ~ and that was the beginning of my true walk with Christ – the day I finally got serious about living my life every day trusting in Him for everything He brings my way.
I recognized that this little life that was entrusted to me was in some pretty incompetent hands – mine – and there was absolutely no way that I was going to be able to guide this precious little girl spiritually without my own complete surrender to and dependence upon God.
As a mom, it became very important to me that I create a spiritual haven for whatever children God gave us. My deepest desire was that they would see God’s word actively applied in my life, certainly not perfectly, but increasingly.
I remember a tremendous peace flooding over my heart that day as He brought verses of his faithfulness to my mind “My grace is sufficient for you” “Fear not, be of good courage, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you may go” “Be anxious for nothing but in everything, by prayer and supplication, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.
Words my parents had poured into my life through all my growing up years, Bible verses I had memorized at home and church – all came rushing back and soothing my fears and reminding me of the riches I have in Christ.
That point truly marked my journey from one of just taking God’s word in, to applying what I know in my life and trusting God to lead me along as I obey what I know He would have me do, responding to Him as He stretches me a little more each day for His plan.
God has shown His absolutely amazing grace to me in my life, by restoring to me the JOY of my salvation in Him – and I marvel that I would have ever chosen the emptiness of this world over the abundant life he offers me! He cares for me and he cares for you –He died so that we all might have life and have it abundantly!
This journey isn’t over yet, and we all make mistakes, but the marvelous thing is that God loves to work with broken vessels – people who admit that they cannot do it on their own and they need His love & strength to carry them through this life. I am thankful He drew me to Himself when I was a little girl, and I’m thankful that He drew me back when I wandered for a time.
But God loves to bring us to those places that we can only fully trust in Him to carry us safely through; I do believe he allows me pain to tether me to himself, to teach me to trust him even more deeply, to show His might and His power and His strength, and to show me that on my own, I am nothing.
What are you putting your faith in? Let’s talk…you know – between friends.