A Real Change of Direction
When you are raised in what our culture labels a well-rounded, functioning family, you convince yourself early on that’s a good place to be. Grandpa was a well-liked preacher. He was described to my brother and me as a great man of God. He died when I was eight months old and I have no memory of him, but surely he walked on water.
My childhood was full of laughter and love except when mom and dad fought from time to time. This brought on stomach problems and sleepless nights for us siblings, but was just a minor glitch under our roof. It was easy to not use foul language. We never heard it except at school and that was an abomination.
Extended family gatherings were post card worthy. Huge family…Two uncle preachers, and aunts who were always ready with a testimony on their lips. I observed, and at the age of ten at Bible School, I followed a group to the altar with the feeling that I had done what was required of me. Sound familiar? Then I was baptized, read my bible, and played the part of Christian for years. I knew deep down something wasn’t right. I didn’t have the kind of love in my heart for all people that I was reading about in the bible. Yes, some lost people read the bible, searching, trying to reach salvation on their own terms.
The worst thing a Baptist congregation can do is give new converts responsibilities only seasoned believers are ready for. I taught Sunday School and sung in the choir. I talked the talk, walked the walk, and went on visitation, not really enjoying any of it. Why was I not happy in the Lord’s work?
Marriage and two children later, I was in a revival meeting and for the first time in a long time, I listened and the words penetrated my heart. Getting a glimpse of my shallow existence and the sin I had covered up surfaced like a volcano. I walked out of that meeting defeated, exposed. Not to the world, but before God.
The next 24 hours brought about a transformation I’ve never gotten over. My husband had worked a swing shift and had to sleep in. It was Sunday morning and from the time my feet hit the floor, the tears flowed down my face. The heaviness of my sins was crushing. The shame and conviction of revealing to family, friends, and the children I had taught in Sunday School paled to the fact that I was lost as the drunk on the street. I had not asked Christ personally into my heart. His absence meant eternity in hell. I don’t remember helping my children dress or prepare breakfast. The only words spoken were when one my children called out to me on the way to church “Mama, what’s wrong.” And I answered, “I’m lost.”
That morning my children were on their best behavior. I know now God helped them understand things were different. That morning was different and I was tired of living a lie. It didn’t matter what anyone thought. Jesus Christ was knocking and I knew how to let Him in. The weight of the world was lifted. It’s true that after genuinely asking Christ in your heart that you have to go and tell! Is my life smooth with no bumps? Absolutely not. The Lord is my Father, my Hope, and gives peace and deep joy no one can take away. The Lord changed my direction.
When I told my pastor I was lost, his answer was “Well, we can do something about that!” I only received love and acceptance. As a result of my salvation, two other people received Christ, including the pastor’s wife. I share my story because I almost let pride send me to hell and there are probably others going in the same direction I was. ~Debbie Norman