I didn’t come to know Christ as a child, although that would have been preferrable, and would have saved a lot of heartache and mistakes… no, age 41 is when He finally (not that He was the slow one) got my attention Big Time. And to be honest, if that’s what it took to save me, then I am thankful and forever grateful.
I, along with my 3 older brothers, were “raised” Baptist. By that, I mean my mother took us to a Baptist church during our growing up years. Mom, a Christian, passed away in 2003, Dad, age 93 and an atheist, still lives–here on earth. The Lord is being merciful to Dad, having given him plenty of time and opportunities to repent, bow his knee, set aside his pride, and acknowledge Christ is Lord. Hasn’t happened yet.
Even though I attended church while growing up, and I’m sure, heard the Gospel many times, it never registered with me, I never understood it, and to be fair to those who shared it with me, I never tried to understand it. I received a children’s Bible one year, and drew mustaches on and blacked out the eyes of the Christians pictured throughout the Bible. I could name the books of the Bible in order, win in Bible verse drills, and sing the songs, but nothing sunk in. By the time I was a teen, I told Mom I wasn’t going to church anymore. She said, “If you stay home, you have to do the dishes”—a chore I detested— I stayed home and washed the dishes–I preferred that to going to church with those boring people and being around those goofy Christian girls my age who got all excited about Lottie Moon. Going to church was more like punishment, and a place I really didn’t care to be. I had heard that I needed to be “saved”. Saved? Saved from what? Oh puleeeseee…. saved? You Christians are deceived fools.
I grew up, married a Catholic man, had two children who were baptized as infants, and “raised” Catholic–which basically meant what? They attended Catholic schools, and we occasionally attended church. I never converted to Catholicism, but I went through the motions. See, I could go ahead and kneel on a bench, repeat after a priest, and act like a Catholic, and who would ever know the difference? Well, we know who knew the difference, don’t we? But that’s where I was in my head and my heart… I thought that God hung out at church–and if you wanted to go talk to Him–that is IF He existed–I don’t know, He might be floating around out there somewhere… you’d slip quietly into a church (preferably a Catholic church cause they look really spiritual and holy and all with the stained glass and candles and decoration), and sit there with your hands folded and head bowed and somehow, (IF He existed) He would see you and hear you, but other than that, God stayed there in that church and He had absolutely nothing to do with any part of your life for the rest of the week or month or however long it was til you happened to feel guilty enough to creep back into church. And that’s the way it was.
Then, all hell broke loose. The marriage was hell, life was hell. I occasionally visited a local Christian church– a kind of open, untraditional, Gospel preaching church with a Christian band on stage, singing and praising the Lord, a communion table you could go to quietly when and if you wanted. The people were friendly, happy. I thought they were faking it… why are they happy? Why are they so friendly and welcoming to me? I liked it, and it ministered to my hurting heart, but I still didn’t “get” the Gospel.
Soon thereafter, I left my abusive husband. I took my children and moved 700 miles away to a small town where relatives lived. My children did not want to live there with me, and they went back to their father. I basically lost my identity as a wife and mother, and I had to figure out who I was in this world. It was the saddest, most devastating time of my life. It hurt too much to even look at intact families, I had to turn my head, and close my heart. I found work with a wonderful boss, wonderful co-worker, at the best place I have ever worked–it fit me perfectly. It took two years for my divorce to be final–they first year was extremely difficult and sad, but the second year was better.
After two years, I met a man… isn’t that how it goes? At the age of 40, I left the small town I was in to a smaller (!) town where he lived, and moved in with him. Obviously, this was not the right thing to do, but I was not a Christian. I did feel some guilt, but mostly, I thought living together was “tacky”, kind of like something a “low-life” person would do and I didn’t broadcast the information, but hey, I was in love, and love felt real good.
My man was gone a lot, out on the road in a truck. I was living in the country, 18 miles from that small town, with the closest neighbor 3 miles away. I knew no one, and there wasn’t a whole lot to do. Within a month or so of moving in, I became sick–more sick than I had ever been in my life. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that God was punishing me. He’d had it with my sin and disobedience. He let the hammer down on me. The two local radio stations were a country music station (no rock and roll, blues or jazz for me to enjoy), and a Christian radio station. I don’t care for country music, so I gritted my teeth, and I tuned into the Christian station. My man had a library full of Christian books, pictures of Christ on the wall, and a wooden cross… yes, he was a Christian, a back-slidden Christian who was living in sin with an unsaved woman. (I had commented to a friend, “How on earth do I decorate around stuff like that?”) I like to read, so I began to pull some books from the shelves and read… one day, I remember hearing a speaker on the radio saying that living with a man and not being married to him was referred to as ‘living in sin’ and it was wrong! I was sick, and I was living in sin. It hit me. I WAS A SINNER IN NEED OF A SAVIOR! I NEEDED TO REPENT AND ASK JESUS TO COME INTO MY LIFE! JESUS IS GOD! GOD WALKED THE EARTH AS A MAN! JESUS DIED ON THE CROSS FOR ME, FOR MY SIN SO THAT I COULD LIVE WITH HIM IN HEAVEN FOREVER! HE ROSE FROM THE GRAVE AND HE LIVES YET TODAY! YES, I AM SHOUTING! IT’S THE SORT OF THING THAT SHOULD BE SHOUTED! And that, dear people, was my moment of conversion. It happened in that country house out in the middle of nowhere, while I was alone. I finally understood the Gospel of Christ.
Before, I couldn’t pray at a meal, but now I could. Before, the Bible made no sense, but now it did. Before, I would sing the hymns along with my mom, and they were nothing more than songs, but now they made sense! Now they were songs of praise! The Old Rugged Cross, Holy, Holy, Holy, When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder I’ll Be There, Just As I Am, Onward Christian Soldiers, Count Your Blessings, Love Lifted Me, Blessed Assurance, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, Christmas songs–Joy To the World— (I was born 3 days before Christmas), and many more all rang true to the Word of God.
My man and I married, and I was soon baptized, and thus began my journey that you will read about here… I became a Christian at age 41 and I am now 58… better late than never! I hope you will find inspiration as I share my unfolding story. And thank you for reading!