Monday, April 25, 2011

He is Risen Indeed

I hope all of you had a blessed Easter.
There was a time when Easter meant a good time with my family, a littletime off. And then there was that first time for me when I understood what had happened, what the resurrection meant for me. To this day, the words in the title above move me. The line from the disciples walking along the road that day can move me to tears. We should have known. "Didn't our hearts burn within us?"

I know the feeling. My conversion happened over the course of three years, but it began at a Catholic church camp when I was sixteen, when I first felt what I now know as the presence of the Holy Spirit. I was so overwhelmed that I told God, whoever he was, that I would do anything, if he would lead me. (I didn't assume it was Jesus. I'd grown up with him.)
When I was nineteen, he lead me to a Bible study, where I met him as I'd never done before. That's how it began for me.

As with Katy, my conversion was a lengthy process, which began when I was very young. My grandmother was a pastor for many years, and provided me a tremendous spiritual heritage. This pentecostal girl married a catholic boy, and, though we were both searching for God, we had a difficult time reconciling our different points of reference. We tried several churches, but none were a good fit for bothof us. A few years later, Rick began to work with a guy who continually invited him to church. By that time, Rick wasn't interested in going, and he held out for almost a year. Then Easter rolled around (1977) and that good catholic boy -- who knew to go to church on Easter -- decided to take his family to the church his friend invited him to. From the moment we walked in we both
had a difficult time controlling our emotions because there was such a presence of God there.They performed a beautiful Easter cantata that presented the message, that, yes, He is risen indeed! That church has been our home church for 34 years. Rick became an ordained minister with that denomination and served on staff at that church. He's led missions teams from that church (and many others) to work and minister all over the world. The continual invitation from that co-worker ultimately changed our lives. We're very close friends to this day. I worked for a number of years as a teacher's aide at the school our church has. Our children attended that school, they were baptized at that church,
were married there, have had their children dedicated there, and our son's funeral was there. The ministries we've been involved in there are wide and varied. I thank the Lord for a grandmother who planted the seed deep in this girl's heart, and for a man who didn't flinch
when it came to sharing his faith.

The Lord came to me, so to speak, and I submitted to His authority as soon as I realized Mormonism was false, and that its god did not exist. It was a situation in which an enemy submitted to a Conqueror. The part I'm ashamed of --- yet, I don't know what I could have done differently-- is that I didn't come to Him until ten years later. That was a period in which my soul dried up from the inside out. By the time a friend pulled me up out of that spiritual wasteland in which I was doing everything "right" and yet dying inside, I thought I was doomed to live the rest of my life that way. Thank God, thank God we made peace.

I don’t remember coming to Christ. What I do recall is when I was six years old I overheard my mother explaining the concept of hell to my older sisters (maybe they had done something terrible? The detail why is lost). When my mother was done, I went to my room and prayed the prayer my mother had told my sisters you must pray in order to go to heaven. I prayed to Jesus, and my prayer went like this, “Please come into my heart, Jesus. I don’t want to go to hell. I don’t want to go anywhere if you’re not there.” And the Lord spoke to me, “I’m already here.” A lovely beginning, don’t you think? It’s the sort of beginning that makes you think, everything’s going to be fine over here. She’s going to have a good life, stable, purposeful, focused, abundant.

Funny thing about abundant life. Jesus tells us He came that we might have abundant life – but it’s never the sort of life you think it should be – rather the abundance that Jesus brings turns out to be a very different kind of life than we think ought to be. And the sufficient grace that sustains that life He brings, turns out to be a very different sort of grace than we hoped it might be. But in the end, it saves our life. From the time I was six, I've been on the journey of losing my life in order to gain that which I cannot lose.

On the morning after my father died, my mother told me God had something
more important for Daddy to do in heaven. I know, not the best piece of wisdom for a 3-year-old, but she was 27 and mourning the loss of her husband. As you can imagine, this made God a bit of a boogie man for me. Hollywood depictions didn't help--my only exposure to things of a spiritual nature. I grew up fearful and feeling inadequate and NOT interested in anything God had to say.

At 14, we moved to a new town. I'd made the decision before the move to try drugs and sex, since being "good" hadn't brought me the sense of belonging I wanted, but the only people interested in pimply ol' me were the church people. Before long they had me going to Bible studies, only I didn't know they were Bible studies because they used the Good News for Modern Man version--with stick figures! Anyway, there was this hot shot summer intern--read that: Jesus freak--leading the study. I heard all about the love that compelled God to die for me. It took about a month of wooing, but I was his. I crawled into bed on night and asked him to be my Lord and Savior. The real joy came when I learned he'd always been my Abba, Daddy. He is risen indeed!

I gre
w up in church from the time I was old enough to stay in the church nursery. Ten years of Sunday School and Vacation Bible School led me to a relationship with a loving God who revealed himself in his Son, Jesus Christ. I remember the song "Have Thine Own Way, Lord" was playing when I walked down the long aisle and knelt at the altar. I don't think I actually said anything in my heart to God. The Bible says that sometimes we don't know what to pray but the Spirit speaks for us, and that's what happened for me, putting my desire into words God could hear. Of course, that was just the beginning of our relationship. I wish I could say that I have always made the right choices, but God never let me get very far from him, and even after all these years, he reveals himself in new ways all the time.


Nicole said...


Henrietta Frankensee said...

Amen indeed. Thank you ladies for letting us in on your intimate stories. When I was 4 I nearly died of measles. There was something without form sitting at the end of my bed the whole time I was sick. Many years later I remembered this understood Who. He is so personal and individual and creative.

Latayne C Scott said...

Henrietta, I'm sure that when we get to heaven God will reveal how constantly He was with us, even when we felt abandoned. Like Elisha and his servant, your eyes were opened to an eternal and abiding reality!

Zan Marie said...

Thank you all for your words. I was nine and during a revival sermon and the call for response during which "Just As I Am" was sung, I heard Jesus ask, "Are you ready to go with Me?" He was right there by my side. I turned to my mother and told her and she smiled. Then she said, "Go." He's never left me.

Marian said...

Thank you. Your stories highlight the love and creativity of God.