Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Best Gift Ever

It's been a very Christmasy Day around here.  I listened to and sang along to lots of my favorite Christmas songs, all afternoon I made Christmas goodies, and I packaged those treats up to give away.  I might even wrap some presents tonight as well.

But those are all things I've already done to cherish Christmas, so today I'm going to do something that isn't on my list.  I want to tell you about the best gift I ever received.

The Best Gift Ever
I mentioned yesterday that I grew up in a pastor's family.  When my parents brought me home from the hospital, it was to a tiny little white house just two doors down from our little country church.  Grandma Gem and Grandpa Pastor lived on the other side in the church's parsonage.  One of my very first outings was to church.  I attended that church with most of my family members for the first 21 years of my life, until Hubby and I moved away.

As with most pastor's families, we were there pretty much anytime the church doors were open.  I heard the Word of God preached from the pulpit from my very own Grandpa.  It was a very blessed way to grow up. 

When I was seven years old, our church had a week long Revival.  I don't remember a lot about it, but I remember the most important parts.  I was standing next to Grandma (second row pew, piano side) and we were singing the final hymn.  Mom and Dad were not there, which was very unusual, but they had something to do that night with their business and were out of town. 

The Revival Pastor and Grandpa were both standing at the front of that little church and an invitation had been offered to anyone who would like to go forward and accept the gift of Jesus into their life.  I had heard this invitation every church service my entire seven years.  I had watched others accept the gift of Jesus' salvation.  I had seen members of my own family go forward and pray. 

But this night was different.  This night, I believe I heard God speak to me. I haven't ever really heard it since, but that night I believe I heard an audible voice tell me to go forward and accept this precious gift. 

I looked over at Grandma and I asked her if I should go.  She did the most amazing thing.  It confused me at the time, but now I can look back with such admiration that she did that for me.  Do you know what Grandma did?  She turned her face away from me.  She didn't say a word, just looked away.  I was surprised.  Grandma had never done that to me before. 

So I stood there for a moment and then I stepped out in faith. 
I stepped out into the aisle and I slowly walked toward the front of the church.  Thankfully, since I was sitting with the pastor's wife, I didn't have a long walk! 

I first came to the Revival Pastor, but he didn't see me.  He had his eyes closed as he prayed.  So I walked over to Grandpa who welcomed me with open arms into a huge bear hug.  He lead me to kneel down at the alter and he prayed with me. 

I asked God to forgive my sins.  I really didn't have too many horrible sins at age seven.  But thankfully you can come to Jesus with a few sins or many and He will forgive them just the same.  I prayed for Jesus to come into my heart and be Lord of my life.  I promised to live my life for him.  And although I am not anywhere near perfect, I have honestly tried to keep that promise since that day. 

Grandma and Sister both came and knelt with me.  Grandma cried tears of happiness that started Sis and me crying too.  Soon we were passing Grandma's hanky back and forth between the three of us. 

Later that evening, my parents came to pick us up and I told them what they missed.  I still can't believe the one night they were out of town is the night God called me to be His.  After taking several weeks of classes with Grandpa, he baptized me in front of family and friends. 

I realize that different denominations offer different experiences to salvation through Jesus Christ, but it doesn't matter if your experience is anything like mine of not.  There isn't a set way to accept the gift of Jesus, you just have to do it sincerely in your heart, confessing your sins, and asking Him to be your Savior.  It's the most important gift you will ever receive. 

Now I was only seven years old and I didn't then fully understand what I had done that night.  And truthfully, all these years later, I'm still learning what it means to be a follower of Christ.  At the age of seven I did not have a horrid life of sin where there was an amazing transformation in my life.  I don't have that kind of testimony. 

There are those that do.  It may take them hitting rock bottom to find Jesus.  When they do, everyone can see the change He made in their lives.  They are an inspiration to people everywhere and an example that God will gladly welcome anyone home, no matter what is in the past! 

No, at seven I didn't have a testimony like that.  But over the years, I realized I do have a testimony worth sharing.  Trusting God has become an everyday lifelong experience for me. It is a very real part of who I am and guides all that I say and do. That does not make me righteous or even right all the time, but it makes me try to be! I wake up everyday trying to be a better person than I was the day before. I seek God's guidance and forgiveness each and everyday.  

I have no doubt that I am a child of God. I have a place - a moment - that I can turn to and remember.  I know it's real and it happened. I have full confidence that Jesus saved me and I am His.  

I am so thankful that Grandma looked away that night. By doing that, she gave me a wonderful gift as well. I made that decision. On my own. And it's been by far, the best decision I have ever made. 

As you know by now, I love Christmas.  It is a very special, important holiday to me.  Now maybe you can understand why I love Christmas and the Christmas Story so much.  A Savior was born.  My Savior was born!  I am so very very grateful. 

And the best part?  He can be your Savior too!  The gift is yours for the taking! Merry Christmas!

The very best gift I ever received was at the alter in a little country church when I was seven years old and I have cherished it ever since.

Just 5 days until we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ our Lord!

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