...what the Lord has done for me. -sung by "The Little Red Ants" choir
The piano began the opening of the last hymn. "Just As I Am," I think.
Perched on the edge of my seat, I bolted forward. I did not run or trot, but there was a purpose to my eight-year-old stride, a determination not to be deterred until I grasped the hand of the evangelist standing before me and poured out my desire to be saved from the devil's hell he had just described.
I was in. My dim notion of Jesus, what He had done and what was going to be required of me as His faithful follower, did not matter. I had walked the aisle, shook the preacher's hand and said, "I believe."
The fear faded. And the security and safety of my life (in a time when all the children I knew were secure and safe) filled my mind with a sense of comfort and familiarity.
I continued in church. There were Sunday sermons on living for the Lord and Sunday School lessons about the Ten Commandments and Zaccheus coming down from that sycamore tree.
By the time I was 23, I had left the church. I had made a hash of my life and looking around for someone to blame (not me of course), I settled on God. I was already upset with Him anyway for hatefully sending people to hell.
And I broke my Daddy's heart, I am sure, when I told him, "I believe in a god but not your God."
Fast-forward nearly thirty years. God had blessed me richly in a renewed love and appreciation for my Dad before He called him on to heaven. God had sent me a woman (finding me in the most unlikely of places) to love me and care for me.
I was back in church. It had been awhile, I thought, but hey, the Bible never really said how long the Prodigal Son spent in that foreign land, right?
A couple months into that new life came a wake-up call.
For the first time ever I was given a glimpse (as if a lightning flash lit up the landscape of my heart) into who I really was.
Not an eight-year-old who had been mean to his sisters or sassed Mama behind her back.
But a fifty-some-odd-year-old man who had lived his life up to that point entirely for himself. No love of Jesus to be found at all in that vision.
"God save me!" are the words I remember, though whether I cried them out loud or not, I cannot say.
It's been a little more than fifteen years since that night. I have learned in that time that John Newton was right about God's grace: it is perfectly, gloriously amazing!
Is there any such thing, do you suppose, as a succinct recitation of a remembered event by a senior citizen?
The end of the matter is this: my mother and father never ceased to pray for their children. So I pray.
Do you love someone who is outside Christ?
Don't stop praying.