During the holiday break, I’ve considered the direction of my writing here. When a friend encouraged me to share my testimony, it seemed like the answer I’d sought. So here it is. It’s not fancy or sensational, just the way God first became real to me, and having the assurance that if I died, He would welcome me into heaven.
For as far back as my memory goes, Sunday school, Sunday morning, Sunday night and mid-week services were the fabric of our family routine. Added to that were tent meetings, Crusade meetings, and special music services within a thirty-mile radius.
I loved all of it, except for the long sausage curls that Mom insisted putting in my hair on Saturday night. Only after my bath and hair washing would I be allowed to watch Lawrence Welk, My Three Sons and Petticoat Junction. That’s when Mom would sit behind me and roll up my hair on sponge rollers or put it in pin curls. Since my hair was usually straight, I always hated how it looked when it came out of the rollers, and I’d cry and fuss about my hair for the first mile and a half to church. After Dad reminded me that people would notice my red eyes more than my curly hair, I’d quit bawling, whimpering the next 2 miles to the black top, and often making a stop in the church bathroom to splash cold water on my red face before going to singing time.
Walking down the basement steps to the Sunday school room on the right with the little brown chairs and the kidney shaped table was always a thrill. I LOVED to sing those familiar choruses with actions: “Climb, climb up Sun-shine Mountain”, “Only a Boy Named David”, “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands”, “Zaccheus Was a Wee Little Man”.
So it wasn’t unusual that one evening we piled in the car after Dad had rushed through milking and drove the 25 miles to my aunt’s church. Her husband’s niece Polly Johnson was giving a Gospel concert. She played the guitar, had a clear, pure voice and sang songs that were part of my six-year old, church-based repertoire. However, hearing them with guitar accompaniment gave a freshness that captured my musical interest. My parents bought a couple of her records, I think, so I continued to hear her music regularly.
Polly shared how she had gone to California looking for satisfaction and purpose in the music industry, but soon discovered that the Jesus Christ of the Bible was the only answer for the restlessness in her soul. Somehow, hearing about Jesus from a young woman who could sing and had recordings made an impression on my little-girl heart.
Since I was so young, I’m not sure of the time frame, but the plane crashed on May 7, 1964. Polly was killed along with all the other passengers. Hearing of her unexpected death made me realize that I, too, could die even though I was still a little girl. While I don’t remember where the conversation with my mom started, I do know that we knelt by my parent’s bed upstairs in the middle of the afternoon. My mom asked me why I was so upset about Polly’s death, as Polly loved Jesus and had gone to heaven.
My response was “But if I die, I won’t go to heaven, because I’ve never asked Jesus into my heart.”
Mom asked me if I wanted to, and I most certainly did want to not go another day without knowing that Jesus knew I loved Him. So I prayed, telling Jesus that I knew I wasn’t good enough to live in heaven without His blessing and forgiveness. I asked Him to take over my life.
Even as a little girl, I remember the lightness of spirit that came over me. I felt clean, washed, ready for heaven if I would die.
As I’ve grown in faith, stumbled, questioned the reality of my salvation, fallen, back-slidden, bogged down in the miry clay of sin, begged for mercy and grace, I have always been able to point back to this time, this altar of repentance, and KNOW that it was authentic. It was simple faith, child-like love and trust, but it marked the day I knew that I belonged to Jesus.
“ If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, since he cannot deny himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13
His grace reached down to me, a little girl without any crimes or super-bad behavior, but a sinner none the less. His grace has held me through demanding my own way, searching for the woman He designed me to be, trying to earn my way into His favor, running away from His Word, and finally, coming to the end of myself, learning to rest in Him, at least for moments here and there. All that I am now depends on Him, unless I get too busy or allow too many distractions into my day. By His grace I continue to learn to walk by faith.
And His grace is there for you! Just reach out to Him!