Again, just to get away from the news and the numbers, I thought I would share a part of my life, if just for me. What’s your story?
Growing up, I was not raised in a Christian home whereby prayer and church was present in our lives. We were always told that we could make our own decision about God and if we wanted to go to church, then go. Very odd, isn’t it? My parents were raised to go to church and they hated it. My maternal grandfather and great-grandfather were both Baptist preachers. I always found my grandfather interesting to see and listen to when we would visit, which was not often due to distance. My dad’s father was a deacon. Church was not a choice for them.
In our large family, with me being the youngest, it was almost like being the only child due to being seven years between my sister and I. Oftentimes I was just be present and I heard a lot and have seen a lot. I would sit out of the way and be quiet. It was nothing to hear laughter, jokes and things little girls should not hear. I can still hear the clanking of beer bottles from the big brown beer case as they came in the house, of which I heard often. Oftentimes I was a delivery person when told to go get me a beer, and I did.
Even though I was not raised to worship and pray, I always felt a drawing and as a young child I knew there was a God. Perhaps with me going to Vacation Bible School each summer with the family nearby, I heard enough that I was convinced there was a God even though I did not go to the altar to proclaim salvation, I knew enough to have faith, as a child
Growing up the way I did though, I assumed that is life. You work, you drink, and repeat daily and on the weekend you drink more. Had it not been for my shorthand teacher in my senior year to ask the class what our plans were after graduation, I would have been stuck in that mode as the rest of them for years, if not still.
College was not as prevalent back then so we each pretty much shrugged our shoulders. It was a small class, as there was not much interest in shorthand but I loved it and still use. With our blank look back at her and having no idea what our futures held, she took the three of us to the vocational school and my friend and I signed up for the business and office class.
Looking back, just with her bold move to do this with me and my friend, it would have got her in a lot of problems, if today. We both took her advice, did what she said, completed the class and enjoyed it.
I love to look back over my life and see the Hand of God in each step in how He orchestrated it all and even still. He does have a plan and a purpose for each of us. He will get us to where we are to be. We might cause detours along the way, but He will pick us back up and get us back on track.
I met a lot people in class from all walks of life, but I met this one girl that was on her way out to start a career but enough time to build a friendship. When it was my time to leave after completion, I had my first real job. At this office, I got to know many but usually there is always one you gravitate to and become not only co-workers but friends. To find out, she was related to the girl in class, they were cousins so now I am friends with both.
My co-worker and I became good friends. After a bit, I found out her father was a Baptist preacher so I started attending their church. Many times being in their home staying over, as friends do, I watched what a normal family was like. No beer, no alcohol, no dirty jokes or cuss words. The complete opposite of mine and I liked it.
Still as life went forward, I was saved. My heart was beating so fast and I knew it was the time to go to the altar. As I write, I laugh with tears falling in seeing this all played out like a movie, in my mind. I laugh because when I am at the altar, the preacher and three others, I assume deacons were with me, too, as we stood in a circle. The preacher said let’s pray. It was me that prayed aloud in this group for my salvation, they all just stood there. Amen. It had to have been the preacher to say, well there you go, I believe she is saved. No doubt they were shaking their heads, laughing at the dinner table that day of what just transpired. No doubt about it, I was saved. Perhaps it was my grandfather and my great-grandfather, both Baptist preachers, coming out in me. Amen.
Even though I can laugh now and cry tears of joy, I also feel the sense of shame I have carried through the years of praying when they were to pray, for me. I do not know why I did that, but it came automatic. The sense of shame making me feel like a fool that day and I honestly have felt a hindrance since, in praying out loud. I just realized that, it is shame. Wow! I wonder if this is my turning point.
I still have the white Bible that was given to me by by this Baptist preacher’s family. Somewhere in this time period, The Way, a Bible to easily understand and read was given to me or I bought. I don’t know, but I loved it. I was so joyous of being a Christian and having this Bible, I stayed up all night reading it. I remember my dad getting up for work and surprised that I was awake and reading. I had joy. I could not get enough of the Word of God in me.
Life moves forward, of course, and I was blessed to have been connected from one friend to another to get to where I was and am today. Evident of God’s mercy and grace.
Back to The Way, I had a neighbor friend, we had grown up together playing outside, riding bikes and all but never close friends as we got older. I found out that she was in the hospital. Knowing she needed to change her ways or she would end up back in there or worse. I took my Bible, The Way, to her and we talked and I witnessed to her as best as I knew how being a young Christian. Thankfully she was very receptive and accepted my my Bible. I planted a seed.
Knowing her life was not a bed of roses and had many issues through the years thereafter, her two children both grown, now she is a grandmother and raising her grandchildren. Her daughter had lost her rights to her children due to repeated drugs usage and rehabs. Such a sad way to live.
Approximately forty years ago, I gave my friend my Bible, The Way. Since I always loved it, I went searching to find another and about five years ago I found it, bought it, read it, loved it still. I was so excited to have it once again in my possession, on my bookshelf.
Little did I know and I am sure this was no coincidence but my friend’s daughter was out of rehab again and staying in an apartment near my home, living with friends. Different times we would meet out in the yard and talk. While trying her best to get her life together, it was always a battle but she knew that God was the one to turn to. Asking if I would take her to church. Many discussions and plans were made to take her to church with me, with excuses each time. One night, standing on my sidewalk talking yet again, I told her to wait, I needed to get something for her. Yes, I gave her my Bible, The Way. Also receptive of receiving, as her mother did.
How interesting that two generations, the mother and daughter, each got my Bible, The Way. I am unsure if a page was even read or the Bible even opened or maybe it was thrown away, but they both had a seed planted of God’s Love.
We may not know how our actions or our encouragement will lift up others but it is worth a try to do such. Right now, many need encouragement and hope like never before. What we can do is to give to others whether it is a smile (no cost), a word of encouragement (no cost) or hope (no cost) as much as we can. If they can see Christ in us, it points them to ‘THE WAY’ of the Cross.
SALVATION… anytime, anywhere, 24/7