Living Proof—Part 1
I've been thinking that I should tell you some things about my journey in faith.
I never want to give the impression that I'm pointing fingers or am "holier than thou" because I know full well that I am not!
I had to learn more than a few lessons the hard way, made bad choices, and, sadly, got pretty lost even after I'd been found.
I know I've mentioned—more than once—that the devil is a liar. And he starts when we're so young and naive. :/ I get why so many fall. The stuff that goes into our brains during those formative years sticks. That's why it's so extremely important that we teach our children how God would have us live our lives.
But—all together now—I digress.
I think it's time for you to get to know me
I hesitated to do that when I began this blog because I want God to speak here.
I didn't think I should insert much of me.
But my last post, "Incoming!" was pretty personal and it has by far been the most read, so maybe getting personal is important after all. A very wise woman told me more than once that sharing our personal experiences helps others know how you know God is with you.
Well, I'm here to tell you it's for real.
When you share what you've learned on your walk, it gets the life application of the Bible—which many believe is inapplicable today because it is an ancient text—out there in the here and now.
So here goes...
That's me. :) And, I'm living proof that verse is good advice.
Even though I don't really remember, I have a feeling my Mom started teaching me about Jesus and His Father pretty much from day one.
Maybe it was only singing Jesus Loves Me or one of the many, many hymns that she carried in her heart as she held me close.
Regardless of her technique, I have no doubt that she started planting seeds and nurturing them very early on.
She loved the Lord with all her heart and her love was contagious. :)
My Dad was in the Navy and was deployed at sea when I was born. We were living in Missouri at my Grandma and Grandpa's farm while he was away.
I met him when I was around 2 years old. Believe it or not, I think I have a flash of a memory of it... he had a huge smile on his face and was handing me this large and—well, rather hideous, actually—black octopus looking toy with a sailor hat on.
*holding up my right hand*
I discovered a picture of me in my crib at my Grandma's house somewhere over the years—I was an adult at the time. That toy was hanging on the side. It triggered that very memory.
By the time I was 4, Dad was stationed in California and we were far from any family. When a package came from either set of grandparents, it was a very exciting day indeed!
The receipt of one of those packages began my own personal journey in faith.
Good things come in small packages
The mailman delivered a box to our door one day and the first thing Mom pulled from the box were two identical books. She placed them in our hands with excitement as she explained that Grandma had sent us our very own Bibles!
The little Bibles had a wrap-around cover with a picture of Jesus surrounded by children. The New Testament and the Book of Psalms were found between the covers.
We were in awe of them immediately.
We knew Mom's Bible was a very special book and now, lo and behold, we had our own!
The fact that we couldn't read had no bearing whatsoever as we poured through the pages.
My brother eventually left the room. Not me though.
I climbed up in a chair and kept going through the pages.
Scattered throughout were a few pictures. I was excited to discover that I knew the stories represented and searched eagerly for the next image.
The manger scene...check.
The crowds flocking to hear the wilderness man who ate locusts and honey telling the people Jesus was coming soon... check.
Jesus teaching about God. He was sitting on a hill... check.
And then a picture of a man standing with some soldiers.
I didn't realize the man was Jesus. I didn't know...
A turn of events
The next picture was very disturbing to me.
The sky was dark filled with rolling, very ominous looking clouds. There were soldiers running away from the scene in the foreground of the picture. They were obviously terrified. Three men were hanging on crosses surrounded by a group of obviously distraught people at the foot of the cross in the center of the three.
Why were the soldiers so afraid? Who were those people? Why were they there? Why was this picture here in the Bible at all?
It was a special book from God telling us how much He loved us! This did not appear to be very loving! (Little did I know... :) )
I needed someone to tell me what was going on here!
I know I sounded alarmed or desperate because she rushed into the room asking what was wrong. I showed her the picture.
"Who is that man in the middle? What's going on?" I blurted.
She knelt down in front of the chair, placed her hands gently on my knees, and explained that the man in the center was Jesus.
To say I was taken aback would be putting it mildly.
You know when someone's mind is blown in a cartoon and question marks, exclamation marks and little squiggly things come flying out of the brain in all directions? That's how I have always imagined my 4-year-old mind looking at that moment.
Jesus loves me, Jesus?
God's Son, Jesus?
I don't remember if I was able to vocalize any of that, but my little face must have shown my confusion. Mom explained that some bad men didn't like the things Jesus was saying. They didn't want Him to be God's Son. They wanted someone different.
So, the bad men thought up a plan to get rid of Him. They had Jesus killed.
My eyes welled up when she said that. It was almost too much to comprehend... probably why I hadn't had a clue, huh?
I was mind boggled. They killed Jesus? But, Jesus loved everyone. He never hurt anyone or did anything wrong in his whole life! How could anyone kill him? How could they?
I still feel that way actually. How could they not have known?
God turned man was right there in front of them! You would think in their heart of hearts that they would have known... They were the leaders of God's people! *sigh* (Have I waited long enough to mention again that the devil is a very cunning liar? If that's not proof, I don't know what is!)
I'm not sure what called her away, but Mom had to get back to the business of being a Mom. My baby sister or my brother probably had a need that had to be met. But before she left the room, she finished her story by telling me that it was a very sad day when Jesus died, but it all turned out ok!
God had a plan ready because He knew what was going to happen to His Son. God knows everything and He was ready. So was Jesus. After three days, God brought Jesus back to life! When people saw Jesus again they knew for sure that there IS a God in heaven and that Jesus is His Son.
She ended her story by saying that from that moment on when we believe that with all our hearts that Jesus is God's Son, we will go to heaven one day to live with them too.
All's well that ends well
That was a happy ending all right, but I continued to sit in the chair trying to wrap my mind around all of it.
I felt so sad for Jesus.
I remember crying as I began to talk to God. Baha! That's happened on far more than one occasion.
I ended up sobbing outright as I told God that I believed! I knew Jesus was His Son.
And, then, I told him how sorry I was that those bad men had killed Him. I have no idea how long I sat and poured my heart out to God that day. But, if that were all it took to be saved, I have no doubt that I would have been.
When I was 9, I understood the need to confess to God that I, personally, had done things that I knew were wrong. I atoned for my sin by acknowledging my need for Jesus as my Savior and prayed the prayer of salvation.
My Dad was out of the service by that time and we had moved home to Missouri. I took the public walk of faith in the very church that I attend to this day. I know the church is not a building, but I love that meeting place. It was built in the late 1800s at the only major four-way stop in town. It has been a beacon of light shining God's love on this community since.
I had intended to tell you about the "getting lost after I was found" chapter of my journey. But I think I have gone on long enough for now.
We can pick it up there next time.
Before I go though...
Have you been thinking about Jesus?
About what He did for you that day He hung on the cross?
He was a worthy sacrifice for all of us because He chose to live a perfect life here on earth—and, you just know that Satan was constantly at work trying to snare Him. Still, he never did one single thing to displease His Father. He laid down His life willingly to bridge the gap between us and God.
He loves us that much.
If you have not asked Him into your heart to be your bridge to the Father, I hope you do it now. It's so simple. Tell God that you realize that you've done things in your life that you know were wrong. Tell Him that you believe that Jesus is His Son and that He died on the cross to take on the sin of the world—your sin. Tell Him you want Jesus to be your Lord and Savior.
That's it... as far as the prayer is concerned. The next step is to tell someone about your decision.
If you have asked Jesus into your heart, I hope you take some time to revive your spirit. We can all use that now and again. :)
Whether it be a full-fledged revival as you find your way back, blinking as your eyes adjust from darkness to light or you are just pausing a moment to praise His mighty name—wherever you are in your walk of faith right now and no matter where you've been, I hope you are feeling the warmth of His Spirit.
And, that it leaves you wanting more.
I'm praying for you. :) I'm praying for all of us.
Come back soon!
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