December 18, 2018
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (NKJV)
My family lived in a nice neighborhood, with white columns supporting the extended front porch and 60-foot pine trees forming a shady canopy overhead. With two kids and a dog named Lassie, we looked like the typical all-American family. While the house was a Southern picture of tranquility, inside the walls brewed an atmosphere of hostility and fear.
From the beginning, my parents had a tumultuous relationship. I don’t remember much about my first five years of life, but I do remember heated arguments, outbursts of anger and periods of passive aggressive silence. I’m sure there were happy times tucked in the marred pages of my childhood, but the accumulation of dark days overshadowed the bright ones and eventually snuffed out their existence in my memory.
I remember hiding in my closet, holding my hands over my ears, squeezing my eyes shut to block the visual images that accompanied the volatile voices. I remember pulling the covers up tightly under my chin, praying I would hurry up and go to sleep to shut out the noise of my parents fighting.
As a child, I always felt I was in the way. While my physical needs were cared for, my heart ached for more. I wasn’t sure what that more was, but I did know it wasn’t a fancy dress, a new toy or shiny trinket.
Strands of inferiority, insecurity and inadequacy began to weave an invisible yet indelible grid system over my mind. I felt I wasn’t good enough, smart enough or pretty enough to deserve love. By age 12, those feelings of “not enough” were cemented firmly in place. I was a scared and scarred little girl who kept her mouth shut by day and her eyes closed by night.
But God didn’t leave me that way.
Don’t you just love those words, “But God?”
When I was 12, my “But God” story began. My friend Wanda’s mom, took me under her wing. Mr. and Mrs. Henderson loved each other, and they loved Jesus. Mrs. Henderson did her housework while singing praise songs to God. She talked to Jesus and about Jesus as though she knew Him personally. I spent as much time as possible at the Hendersons and started going to church with them after Saturday night sleepovers. While my family went to church on Sundays, we had a religion; this family had a relationship with Jesus. And that made all the difference.
I wanted what they had, and I found every excuse possible to tag along with the Hendersons. My mind was a sponge for Scripture and my heart a well-tilled field for seed. For the first time, I caught a glimpse of a Heavenly Father who loved me — so much that He gave His one and only Son as a sacrifice for me. I soaked in the truth that Jesus willingly died on Calvary’s cross to pay the penalty for my sin, so I could live in heaven for all eternity. I marveled at the fact that God loved me, not because of how I looked or behaved, but just because I was His.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Those words melted my heart.
Mrs. Henderson loved me, shared Jesus with me and taught me Scripture in a neighborhood Bible study. When I was 14, she invited me to accept Jesus as my Savior and Lord. With tears streaming down my face, I did just that.
Looking back at those tumultuous days, I’m not sure I would have wanted my daughter having a relationship with someone like me. I was headed for trouble, but Mrs. Henderson, without even knowing it, headed Satan off at the pass.
At first, my parents were leery of my newfound faith, but my love for the Lord was hard to resist or deny. Three years later my mother accepted Jesus as her Savior. Then three years after her decision, through a series of twists and turns only our Heavenly Father could have orchestrated, my earthly father gave his life to Christ. In a matter of six years, God worked an incredible miracle in my life and my family’s … and it all started with one woman.
That woman could be you. How will you let God write your story?
Dear Lord, help me reach the broken and share the hope and healing of Jesus Christ. Help me to minister like Mrs. Henderson, reaching little girls who’ve been scarred and scared, who’ve now grown to become big girls who are scarred and scared. Help me be part of someone else’s “But God” story. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Revelation 12:11, “They triumphed over him [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (NIV)
When we're hurting, there are a lot of places we could run to. We hope Proverbs 31 Ministries has met you there, offering the truth of God's promises in the midst of devastations. Reaching a hand to pull you back up so you can keep moving. Keep believing. Keep hoping. Will you help us continue to reach women around the world with the only hope that will sustain them? We can't do this without you!
Stop by Sharon Jaynes’ website for a FREE printable titled, “First Corinthians 13 Christmas Style” to help keep your holiday season in proper perspective.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What’s your “but God” story? We’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment below and complete the following. I was_____________, but God_____________.
© 2018 by Sharon Jaynes. All rights reserved.
Originally published Tuesday, 18 December 2018.