Monday, December 19, 2011

Once upon a time . . .

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who grew up with the name of Jesus on her lips, but not in her heart. She knew all the Bible stories. Her parents, after all, were home missionaries, serving the Lord among the children in East Tennessee.

During her early years, a great sadness filled her home and her young life. Her brother, fourteen years her senior, had died at age eighteen after a lifetime of hydrocephalus. Even at the age of four, she sensed a bleakness and a blackness cover her world. Terror filled her nights, her only comfort the light her mother left on in the hallway. Oh, how her mother tried to console the little girl. She would sit on the edge of her bed and quote Psalm 56:3: "When I am afraid, I will trust in you."

The little girl wanted to trust in God, but she didn't know how. Fear engulfed her spirit and overwhelmed any faith that might break through.

Then, on one muggy summer Sunday night, she and her friend sat in church listening to a visiting evangelist. Well, her friend was listening. She was absorbed in a western novel she'd checked out of the church library.

When the service ended and the speaker asked if anyone would like to come forward and receive Christ as Savior, her friend leaned over to her. "I want to go up," she said.

The little girl shrugged. "Ah, we're too young."

Her reply didn't deter her friend, however. She stood up, slipped past the little girl, and walked down the aisle to her mother. They whispered together and then went up to the front.

A few months later, in October, the little girl sat beside her father on a Sunday morning. The sun streamed through the stained-glass windows. After the preacher closed the sermon, the minister of music directed the congregation to a hymn titled, Jesus I Come.

As the music swirled around her, she became transfixed on the words, "Out of my bondage, sorrow and night, Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come. Into Thy freedom, gladness and light, Jesus, I come to Thee."

At that moment, she knew those words were written for her. Without a word, she slipped past her father and down the aisle, her physical trek a spiritual heart response to Jesus. Jesus, I come to You, was her heart cry.

That day, the little girl acknowledged Jesus as her personal Savior. It was a first, trembling step to connect with Jesus.

The next day, the little girl went to third grade and sat behind her friend, Jimmy. She tapped him on the shoulder and told him what she had done. He said he had done the same thing.

Another hymn that captured her heart as a child was
The Old Rugged Cross, written by George Bennard.

"On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suff'ring and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I'll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown."

That little girl was me, and I have one glory: the cross of Christ. As Augustus Toplady wrote in his well-known hymn, Rock of Ages , "In my hand no price I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling."

In Christ alone, does my life make sense. In the midst of much doubt, fear, and obsessive-compulsiveness over the years, the Lord has continually wooed me out of the darkness and into His marvelous Light. He is faithful God, Savior, and Lord.

As Luke so aptly writes about Christ in chapter one, verses 77-79 . . .

Jesus Christ came "to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven, to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace."

During this Christmas season, my heart's prayer for you, dear reader, is that you will consider the cross, for through Christ alone can any of us know forgiveness of sin and share eternal life with Him.

Let His Light break through your darkness and guide your feet into the path of peace.

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