|Me and Dad|
I remember the Sunday night I sat on the front pew of my Dad's church when I was only six years old. That night is still very fresh in my mind. My little legs couldn't reach the floor but they swung in rhythm as mom and dad sang an upbeat song. It was a warm night in Biloxi, Mississippi. The windows were open and a soft breeze with a hint of ocean swept through the church. Dad moved behind the pulpit to preach. I don't remember what he said or even the topic of his sermon. But I remember thinking about all the times my parents sat with me and told me about Jesus. I thought about the Sunday school teachers that showed me pictures and told me about a man who would love me forever and would never leave my side.
I remember my Dad talking about sin. I knew I shouldn't lie and I knew I should obey my parents but sin meant very little to me. Instead, I stared into the eyes of my Dad and I wanted to know the man he was talking about. I wanted to be friends with a man who was as wonderful as my Dad said he was. I pictured my mom and dad walking down a path with Jesus walking between them. Yes, it was the simple Sunday school drawings of this Jesus....but for me, it was very real.
Then I saw it. I saw the glistening eyes of my Dad. My dad never cried. It didn't matter what kind of pain it was - emotional or physical - my dad never cried. He could make a joke out of any situation. He could fuss about injustice and stupidity - but dad never cried. That night, the tears didn't run down his face....but I saw not only the film of tears that he fought to contain - but also the deep understanding that everything he was saying about this friend of his was completely and totally true. His depth of emotion connected with mine and all I wanted was to be friends with this Jesus. I wanted to know what my parents knew. I wanted Jesus to see me and to love me in the same way he loved my parents.
When Dad gave the alter call I pushed off that uncomfortable wooden bench and joined several others at an old fashioned alter. I knelt and folded my arms on the alter. I laid my head on those little arms and began to cry. At six-years old that's all I knew to do. I didn't have sins to repent. I didn't have dreams to ask for. All I could think to say was, "Jesus please come into my life and love me. I want to be your friend."
I kept thinking what it would be like to know that this great man was my friend. I desperately wanted to know that we would walk together, that he would take care of me and that all three of us - my parents and I would have this man as our friend.
My Dad put his arms around me and prayed a simple prayer. My mother knelt beside me and walked me through the sinners prayer. I did everything I was told, but none of it made me feel any different. It was the emotions of knowing who Jesus was and the desperate need to "feel" his presence in my life that kept the tears rolling down my cheeks.
The alter cleared and as always mother and dad stood at the back of the church shaking hands and talking with friends. I returned to the front row seat and continued to cry. I don't know why the tears wouldn't stop except that I was so desperate to know that Jesus and I had cemented our relationship. Some people may criticize my tears or the fact that my parents allowed it to happen. But I would not be the same person today if my parents had not allowed me to follow the sweet path of redemption. For me those tears were a journey. A journey that allowed an innocent little girl to commit her entire life to Jesus Christ. I will always be grateful to my parents for introducing me to Jesus Christ. I will always be grateful to the grandparents, aunts, uncles and various saints that supported my faith and shared their testimonies of God's love.
I remember Dad and the strong arms that lifted me off that old wooden bench. I remember laying my head on his shoulder and crying. I remember him stoking my back and telling me how glad he was that I knew his best friend. I sat between mom and dad as we drove to a restaurant. 10 or 15 friends from church were waiting. Dad sat at the head of the table. I sat between him and mother.
I didn't look around. I still wasn't sure that Jesus had heard me. I bowed my head and tears rolled down my cheek. "Did you hear me Jesus? I so want to be your friend." Mother saw my tears and asked what was wrong. I told her I just wanted to be saved. I wanted Jesus to be my friend.
She put her head close to mine and we prayed again. She assured me that it was done. That Jesus was not one to hold his love from anyone that wanted to know him. She smiled wide, patted my hand and kissed me on the cheek. I heard the words. I knew my mother wouldn't lie to me. But I still didn't feel like it was done. During the entire meal I swiped at tears. I picked at my plate because it was too hard to swallow.
The ride home was quiet. I prepared for bed as I always had. Mom and dad both knelt by my bed and prayed a sweet prayer with me. They turned out the lights and left the room. I lay in the dark and watched a flicker of light from the hallway. Again the tears streamed down my face. I thought about all the Sunday school stories I had heard, the songs about Jesus and the smiles from older people who had walked with him. I closed my eyes as tight as I could, "Jesus please be my friend. You can have every part of me. You can have everything - all my toys - you can even have my dog. I just want to be your friend."
It's impossible to explain what happens when love rushes into a heart and changes you forever. I've been successful in business but it is a drop in comparison to feeling your heart burst with the love of Jesus. I've been married and had three children but none of those joys compare with the overwhelming love of Jesus. I've received awards. I've experienced many exciting and wonderful emotions - but nothing....nothing I've ever experienced matches the moment that Jesus came rushing into my life. Nothing can hold a candle to the overwhelming all consuming feeling I had when Jesus came into my heart. That feeling has held on for 54 years. It has guided me through every decision and every situation in my life. He has never left me. Even when I was in pain and screamed at him. Even when I debated and fussed about his will. Even when I was so distraught that I shook a fist at the sky and yelled, "Where are you!" He never left me for a moment. 54 years later I love him more now than I ever have.
I worry about churches that promote the idea that becoming a friend of Jesus requires nothing more than repeating a statement. I personally don't believe that's how it works. If Jesus does not stir your emotions, he probably doesn't live in your heart. Humans are always emotional about things that touch them. I once knew a 6'3" man who never cried, never was especially nice and never showed emotions of any kind. I saw that man hit his finger hard enough with a hammer to shatter the bone. His jaw tightened but nothing more. He wrapped it in a towel and continued to work. That rigid tower of strength was brought to his knees by a child. His love of his daughter broke him. And she finally led him to Jesus Christ who broke him further. After his encounter with Jesus it seemed the entire world took on a new intensity. He saw everything differently and everything touched him deeply. He became even more powerful because he now could touch all people and all his emotions. He was clearly a changed man.
Beware of faiths that offer no power and no change.
Today I have served Jesus 54 years of my life. I think too many people believe that the only reason to consider God or Jesus is to avoid Hell. They think of Jesus as a one gift Savior. I have been hurt by people who are jealous of the life I've had. I was never molested. I didn't live in a dysfunctional home - in fact my home was filled with love, peace and wonderful music. I always knew I was totally loved. I married my soul mate. I had three wonderful children. We avoided teen rebellion and they have grown to be remarkable adults. I have great in-laws. I have never been arrested. And even though I can debate with the best of them, I don't scream or get into violent arguments and I don't hold grudges.
For me....being friends with Jesus and understanding what he wants to do in everyone's life - has saved me from much more than Hell. He saved me from experiencing the dark evils of this world. He kept me from drugs, addictions, broken relationships, heartache, pain and sorrow. Oh I have suffered! No one gets out of this life scott free. I've had my heart broken into a million pieces. I have had times of complete despair. I've been attacked both emotionally and physically. I've been betrayed, and criticised and stomped. I've been embarrassed and lonely. I've been put down because I have a good life...go figure. I'm dismissed as if doing something right makes me a freak in this life. The reality is that I didn't do any of this on my own....it's all because of Jesus - yet I'm the one being rejected. There have been times when I let my guard down and Satan was quick to flood my life with temptation. I've been stupid and lost several of those battles - but when I realized I was drifting away, I called on my friend Jesus for the strength and I ran back into his arms.
I worry and pray for those who are jealous of my life. I would never hurt them or treat them differently because they didn't meet Jesus when they were young. Instead, my only desire is to comfort them and to help them find the love that only Jesus can give. I believe he can heal any life. I believe Jesus can make all things new. My only thought is to be part of God's plan to say...."You can have my life too. That's what Jesus offers for everyone."
I've never understood this love affair with sin. In fact, I've tried to study sin and it's affects on people. Every sin the Bible warns about has only fleeting moments of fun or rewards. The rest of the time it's full of pain and sorrow. Why would anyone purposely choose pain and sorrow for their life? It's illogical. The consequences are always so full of pain and they last so long that I could never come up with a good enough reason to participate. It's kind of like saying, I'll give you 20 milllion dollars. You can buy anything you want with the money. You can live like a king and no desire will be refused. At the end of one year, we will have the right to cut off one arm and one leg. It doesn't matter what we do with it - the cost for you receiving 20 million dollars is that you will lose one arm and one leg. Why would anyone do that?
How about 50 million dollars? But at the end of three months we will kill your child and harvest their organs for others. What????
That how I see sin. Sin offers a lot of good stuff in the beginning but the following price tag is way too much! The saving Power of Jesus Christ is that he says, "Stick close to me and there will be very few consequences. I will teach you how to have the best life possible. There are things you can't have or they will cost you pain....but if you avoid those and stick close to me and my commandments you will have a great life. You will receive rewards that never end. You will receive the most important things in life. You will find true contentment and joy with your life. Pure satisfaction will be yours. And when others (no fault of your own) cause you pain or when accidents happen - I will be there to help you through it."
To me.....that sounds like a great deal! A fantastic plan. To me that's the best part of the Saving Power of Jesus Christ. When I look beyond how wonderful He is...how much I love "who" He is and how fantastic it is to be near him......then I see this wonderful gift of a great life and I am amazed! I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't want Jesus to swipe their life clean and start over - with Him as the architect prepared to create His personal design for their great life.
After 54 years of being a Christian I can testify that He has never let me down and Jesus has always been there. You can trust Him and you can take it to the bank that He will never leave you nor forsake you.
Jesus has always been my friend and the best thing in my life.
If you want to know this wonderful man, please send me an e-mail. Your life will never be the same.
God loves you,