This month 50 years ago, as a six year old, tagged as shy, I gave my life to Jesus. I asked Him to clean my heart and to make me forever His. My dad would bring an old mattress that was hidden under my bed in to the living room. Sometimes we would do gymnastics, sometimes we would have Bible stories, but this night we were watching Billy Graham on TV. When Billy Graham asked for those that wanted to give their lives to God and have Jesus cleanse them and to live with God forever, my tender heart was pierced. I gave my life to Jesus that night. The next Sunday I couldn’t wait to walk down the aisle and show everyone I was His. And being baptized was the icing on the cake! It was a first act of total obedience, pushing past all my fears. I couldn’t put it into words but it was real and it took! This was not expected or normal for me – I was told I was shy (I really hate that word). I marched down the aisle with my eyes on my pastor to the song, “No Turning Back.” As a six year old I told the Lord that would be our theme song. “Though none go with me, still I will follow. No turning back.” And as a six year old I received the keeping power of grace to walk these 50 years without ever turning back! That is a big cause for celebration to me. I am collecting the Stone of Keeping Grace.
God’s keeping Grace is sometimes overlooked. Many times at church meetings we hear fantastic testimonies of salvation, of the saving Grace of Jesus. And we speak of those that have experienced that as having a “good” testimony. It is a good testimony, but so is the testimony of God’s keeping Grace. I don’t think we understand the confusion that this implications can cause in a “good Christian” kid. As a junior at the university I was going on my 1st mission trip; Mexico. The leader of the trip was a young man and friend, John White. John had experienced quite a lot in his life and knew the saving Grace of Jesus. He told me to have a testimony ready to share on the trip. I looked at him and said, “I was saved at six and have always followed Jesus. I don’t have a “good” testimony. You might ask someone else.” He’s actually short but at that time he seemed 10 feet tall. He grabbed me by my shoulders and pierced my soul with his laser blue eyes. He said, “I don’t ever want to hear you say that again. I know God’s saving Grace, but you, you know His keeping Grace. It is all Him. And you are discounting the blessings of what God has done in your life. He has kept you! Your testimony isn’t just “good”, it is GREAT!” I realized that I had hurt God as I had sometimes felt ‘less than’ in Christian circles because I had been saved from the age of six and not experienced the dark side. I repented. And then it dawned on me, maybe that implied attitude among Christians is one reason the ‘good’ kids try out the ‘bad’ stuff. This is still an issue I confront quite a bit. Just the other day I was talking to a very strong Christian about how we raised our kids and how we did missions with them. They each were saved at three years old. I was talking how at the age of six, each were expected to tell a testimony of their own in front of others, sometimes pretty large churches. The lady asked me, “What could Hannah say as a testimony at six when she was saved at three?” We have to change our perspectives, don’t we?
God’s keeping Grace grew stronger as I grew and took advantage of it. As a 5th grader, around 10 years old, I read the verse about that those who are forgiven much, love much. If you know me, I am competitive. I didn’t like the thought that someone else was loving God more than me. My dad had taught me to respectfully ask God questions and to be honest because He already knows what your thinking anyway. So I asked God if I had to be caught up in sin, be forgiven so that I could love Him as much as someone else? And at 10 years old, God and I started developing an honest back and forth dialogue about Him and His feelings, His emotions as God. I started putting myself in Bible stories and trying to experience what they experienced in my soul not just my mind and spirit but my emotions. I did and continue to ask God questions. One person recently told me, “I like when you preach because the Bible becomes 3D and I am there.” So back to my 10 year old’s question: God set a precedent of Grace in my life. He impressed in my heart, “What sends you to hell?” Me – “One sin.” God – “So if you realize and always keep before you that one sin sends you to hell the same as multiple sins, you will always love Me with all you have!” I don’t know if all that is theologically correct. Some people think there are levels of hell. Whatever. All I know is my one sin, no matter how small cannot stand in the presence of God with out the Grace of Jesus covering me.
Every event, every step with God in my life has been a training session filled with His love. I have not always liked the sessions and sometimes argued. I have made many mistakes but He has loved me through them all and never gave up on me. He taught me that He is big enough not only to wash our sins but cover our mistakes:
Randy was a way on mission. Hannah was in 3rd grade, the other two with friends, so Hannah and I were going to a Bible study at our pastors’ home. I stopped for gas. I was driving Randy’s prized Diesel Passat. I realized I was putting regular gas in it! I pulled out the nozzle, gas flew everywhere. Hannah was shocked. I jumped in the car and started driving to my pastors’ house. A block from their home, the car died. Hannah and I ran to their house in the dead of night. I flung open the door and without acknowledging anyone and interrupting the Bible Study, I began to cry out, “Randy is going to kill me!” That got everyone’s attention. After I told of my horrible mistake, the pastor and elders went and towed my car and took Hannah and me home.
The next day I was sitting in my rocker, crying out to God. I told Him, “I can’t even blame the devil on this one, it was just me. My stupid mistake of not paying attention. Randy will be coming home tired and worn from the trip and he will be met by my mistake. We are stretched for money. He will not be happy. God, I’m sorry. I know you wash my sins but can you cover my mistakes?” Just at that exact time our lady pastor called me. She said that the elders had met and they had already towed the car to the shop and were going to pay for it to be fixed!!!! Mistakes are learning times, if we give them to God and keep getting up.
And I believe a key to experiencing God’s keeping Grace is not only having those honest continual talks with Him all day long, but also to do what I know to do. I was in a Freshman sociology class at TTU. We were studying the book Cows, Pigs and Witches, which had nothing to do with any of those but rather was a book taking scripture and disproving Jesus. I took upon myself to look up every quote in context that the author used against Jesus. I took my Bible to class as our TA would have discussions, I would respectfully in a inquisitive tone ask the validity of the author’s point using the complete text of the Bible. It became a Bible study! At the end, our TA showed a documentary of Holy Rollers handling snakes to prove their faith and it made those people, God and any form of the move of the Spirit to be stupid. AND a snake handler got bit at the very end!!! Again, I’m not into these people’s theology, but I could tell the attitude of the students in my class were becoming tarnished towards God. I kept praying all through the documentary. The only question I could think to ask was if our TA knew if the guy died that was bit, because they stated they would not use medicine? He knew me by name by now even in this monster class! He rolled his eyes and stated that actually he knew the guy that made the film and no the guy did not did and no he did not receive treatment! What looked like a sure loss became a BIG win! Whispers of amazement rose among the students. After class a girl sought me out to tell me that if I had not been in that class and was bold enough to ask questions and possibly look foolish, she would have lost her faith! Keeping Grace becomes even bigger when we do what we know to do!
50 years with God is monumental to me. A half a century with God. I am sure I should be further than I am, but I am still going! Fifty is the year of pentecost – power and the year of jubilee – joy and rest. My heart is beats strong for God. I love God deeper than ever. I am amazed at His Grace in my life and i never want to take it for grant-it. He is God. He is my Father! And I am His FOREVER! My biggest goal is to finish my life, no matter when that is, well. I want to be in faith, in Him. I want to stand on how so many of my ancestors changed the tide of my heritage into a Kingdom heritage, and I want to go further. I want to hear Him say, “Well done.” This month is a month of celebration —— a celebration of real life —— a celebration of His Keeping Grace! Woo hoo! God is the Best EVER! Let’s dance!
Do you know His keeping Grace? Have you experienced His saving Grace? How do you celebrate God in your life?
Originally posted June 24th, 2017