When most people think of November the first thing that comes to mind is Thanksgiving. And to most, Thanksgiving equals turkey, pilgrims, and parades. Sadly, few think of the “thanks” in Thanksgiving.
Midway through 2011 I was given a new perspective on gratitude. EUCHARISTEO! Nothing radical, or “band wagon”. It was basically, common sense, slap yourself on the forehead kind of perspective. You know the plan God had intended all along, the one that will always work….but the one we seem to have the hardest time catching on to. This word eucharisteo opened my eyes to what being thankful to God was really all about. It was being thankful in good times and bad. It meant being genuine…sincere…living life on purpose and not taking it for granted. All of this combined together to awaken me to the one thing that I am most thankful for…..
This blessed Salvation….my greatest gift….the gift that was always there waiting for me….the gift that Satan didn’t want me to find….the gift that my Sweet Savior, Jesus Christ, died for….the gift that I don’t know how I lived 27 years without.
My journey to Salvation….
I’ve been darkening the doors of church since the womb. Every time they were open I was there. So your probably thinking…“How could she not have been saved?”
Well, according to records, I was “saved” in 1991 at age 14.
It was “Revival” week at our church. You know the week of the year in all Southern Baptist churches, when we bring in a different preacher to shake things up and get the people fired up for the Lord again after a year of backsliding. (I mean no disrespect, but those of you who grew up in church…especially a Baptist church…know what I’m talking about)
So the evening service was upon us. All the Youth were seated down front, instead of in our usual spot in the Amen corner. I don’t remember who the pastor was…all I remember was that he was loud and commanded our attention. You see our pastor was very soft spoken so the sheer volume alone held our attention. I was transfixed as he shouted about…of all things….hell. I don’t think any of us (Youth) blinked or even breathed through that entire sermon. We were probably sitting there, mouths gaped open.
Then comes the alter call.
All I could think about was that fact that I did not want to burn for eternity in hell…I knew how it felt to get burnt on the stove for goodness sake…I surely didn’t want to be set on fire for all of eternity! So when the pastor gave the OK to come on down, I…(A) went up front out of pure fear, and (B) went up front because all my friends went up…apparently they didn’t want to burn either.
So it was all taken care of…I was going to heaven…WHEW!!!
Fast forward to 1995.
Still in church every time the doors opened. I did, after all, have social obligations.
Trying to make it on time on these Sunday mornings since I could now drive myself. Trying to stay awake during the sermon, because I’d stayed out late the night before. Trying to make it through my Senior Year of High School so I could get out of this small town that I’d lived in all my life and had grown to despise!
No part of my life (other than the fact that I occupied a pew every Sunday) gave witness to the fact that I’d been “saved” four years prior.
Life after High School led to College. College meant freedom and no time for church. Two and half years into college…here comes marriage.
1997. Marriage in the church that I’d been “saved” in six years prior. Marriage to an unbeliever. But that didn’t matter…it never even crossed my mind. Because you see while I did have the advantage of a life spent in church…and while I did have a piece of paper saying that I was “saved“…I was just as lost as my husband was.
Here come the kiddos!
June 1999. The birth of our first child. Six weeks later….on the road we go. Out of town with my husband’s job….no church.
October 2001. Birth of our second child. In and out of town with work. We’re home for a while and I connect with a friend whose husband works with my husband. We travel together some. She starts talking to me about the religion that her mom follows. She’s starting to go to meetings with her mom. She and I, strangely enough, start talking about the Bible. It’s been years since I cracked open a Bible, so I have to go home and find mine. I brush off the dust and start searching because some of the things she’s said just didn’t sound right.
God used my friend, my Jehovah’s Witness friend, to get me back to the Bible. This was my first step toward Him.
So I kept searching, and I found the truths written in His word, and shared them with her. She was not receptive.
2003. Time passed, and children grew. It was time to come home to stay. Kindergarten was fast approaching. We got settled back at home after several years of being on the road.
My friend still pulled at me to follow her religion. I instead ran hard and fast back to my roots. Back to my safe harbor. Back to the very pew in which I’d sat years before and heard the message that scared me down the aisle…the message of “dying and burning in hell”.
This time that pew felt entirely different. I sat there older, bearing the scars of an unholy life, a life not lived for Him. But I also sat there as a mother of two. A mother who knew that her children needed to be in church. I sat there knowing that the beliefs my friend was offering were wrong. I sat there knowing that I’d been taught all the right things. I’d been taught all the Bible stories. I’d been taught the law.
The thing I had not been taught was that I could have a personal relationship with God…with His Son Jesus. I didn’t know that what I had been running away to find…what I had been searching for…the thing that would fill that empty spot inside me was an intimate relationship with Jesus. I’d never realized that He was Someone I could talk to about anything. That He was the One who had always loved me and always would. For me God was always some far away entity looking down ready to strike and send people to hell.
So I sat in the pew on that Sunday morning with a longing that nothing could fill….lost. I sat there feeling out of place in a place that was so familiar. I sat there and listened with an open, wounded heart as the choir sang. And with each word they sang, God filled the empty place inside me. He whispered, “Welcome Child, I’ve been waiting.” For the first time in my life I knew what the Love of God felt like. I knew what it meant to have a relationship with my Heavenly Father. I had a longing, but this time the longing was to know Him more.
I couldn’t tell you what the sermon was about that day. I can’t even tell you what the song was that the choir was singing. All I know is, that Sunday, I was willing to go and Jesus met me there. He met me…I laid myself bare before Him and He saved my soul.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Are you lost? Hurting? Longing? Confused? Weary?
Run to Jesus sweet friend. He’s the only Cure.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Special thanks to Melissa at Beautiful Mommy Feet. First...for being a willing servant of God... second, for inviting me to share in this blessing of 12 Stones during the month of November.
172. for the stories He gives us to tell.
173. the courage He gives me to tell those stories.
174. the smell of glue as she cuts and pastes.
175. that halloween is over and we can watch cartoons again without them trying to tell my child that she has to dress up and be scary.(Soap Box moment)
176. that my husband appreciates me and he's not afraid to let FB know it. :)(BEAMING!)
177. for Fall
178. for my tree that bares delicious pecans(pronounced pi-ˈkän, but since your reading you can pronounce it however you choose.) ;)
180. for my sweet nephew who changed my worn our brakes.