If you are just happening upon this blog, I am sharing parts of my testimony in a series called “My Story, My Faith”. This is the second post in the series, to read the first one click here.
It was a sunny fall afternoon, as I was walking home from school. I was finally getting used to life as a second grader in my new school. I was such a painfully shy kid, and it would take me some time to warm up to new people and surroundings. I always enjoyed school. I loved to learn, and I also appreciated the routine and predictability of the school day. I was very bright, and received so much affirmation from my teachers that it just made me want to be the best academically. I was really starting to like this new school. The classroom had that familiar smell of paste and play dough. My teacher would sit at her desk every morning eating a grapefruit. I had never had grapefruit before and always thought that it looked really tasty. Imagine my surprise when I finally did try one only to find out that it is extremely bitter. Why would anyone eat those?
As I approached my home, I could see a stranger standing outside the door of our second floor apartment. My younger brother was sitting at the top of the stairs, and my mother, also standing there, was crying. I could see that my brother was holding a bag, and as I got closer, my confusion turned to dismay. It’s happening again.
The lady standing outside our door was a social worker. She explained to me that she was going to have to take me away to another home for awhile. Well, this wasn’t a new experience to me, and I started to cry because I was afraid of having to live with a stranger. I immediately said, “I want to go back to Sandy’s.” The woman looked at me a little confused, and said, “We’ll see what we can do.” I grabbed my paper grocery bag of belongings, and my brothers and I piled into the backseat of the social worker’s sedan, and we headed to her office to wait for placement.
I assumed that they had to check my records to find out who this “Sandy” person was, but they did eventually figure it out, and a few hours later, myself and my youngest brother were back in her home, while my other brother went somewhere else. Even though I would miss my school, I was thankful to be back. Sandy’s house meant three meals a day, clean clothes, Bible stories, Sunday School, board games, and more kids to play with.
I am not exactly sure what made social services take us away that time, but my biological mother had a drug and alcohol habit that she would fight for a few more years, then she would be granted custody of us again. In the meantime, however, we would be safe.
As a six-year-old, the danger that I was in was not obvious to me. My life to me was, sadly, very normal. It was normal for me, at this young age, to be home alone with my two younger brothers. It was normal for me to use our gas stove unsupervised to make breakfast for me and my brothers. It was normal to wander around the neighborhood by myself. Now that I have children of my own, I know it’s by the grace of God that I survived my early childhood years. I wonder how many angels had to be dispatched to keep me from being kidnapped, burning the house down, or falling out of a window.
For some of us, our life before Christ was normal. There are so many things in our culture now that are considered to be normal. We didn’t know the danger that our old life posed to our eternal destiny. If we look back on our pre-Jesus life, all we can do is say “Thank You, Lord, for saving me!” He rescued us from ourselves and from our sin.
God rightly compares people to sheep. Sheep are not very bright, and can easily get lost, or unwittingly find themselves in a ditch. Often sheep are unaware of the dangers around them, whether it is a pit up ahead, a prowling lion waiting in the lurch, or a sly fox trying to slink his way into the fold. Sheep need a shepherd to guide, provide, and protect.
Jesus died, and lives, to rescue His sheep. In John 10:10, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (NASB). He did exactly that for us who believe.
I love the story of Zacchaeus. It was a favorite as a child in Sunday school, but recently I read the story with new understanding. Isn’t it amazing how God can take a familiar passage and teach us something new?!
Here was this man, Zaccheus. He was not just a tax collector, he was a chief tax collector, and he was wealthy because of it. He was not at all respected by the people, seen as a “sell-out” to the oppressive Roman government. He betrayed and cheated his own people. But, he heard about Jesus, and he had to see him. However, he was, shall we say, vertically-challenged. So he climbs up a tree, just so he could catch a glimpse of this holy man as he is walking by.
To his surprise, this man, Jesus, walked up to the tree and looked up at him and said, “Hey Zach! So I’m heading to your place. Want to come out of that tree?” It’s a little funny, but if you look even deeper, you will see that this man who was so desperate to see Jesus was already seen by Jesus. He invited Jesus in, and his life was changed. Zaccheus thought that he was seeking out Jesus, but in reality, Jesus had already been searching for him.
It is the same with us. Jesus is on a mission to “seek and save that which was lost” Luke 19:10 says. He found me as a young six-year-old girl, daughter of an addict, father unknown (to me, not to Him), poor, neglected, a nobody. He saw me, rescued me, and made me an heir to the King of Heaven. I invited Him in, and He gave me a new life, a new future, a new position.
If we want to get really technical, He knew me way before I was 6 years old. His plan for my salvation was on His mind since the beginning of time. Ephesians 1:4 says He chose us, even before He created the world! I was always His! Imagine all that had to happen beyond the cross for me to come to salvation. My foster mother’s salvation is connected to mine. We have a spiritual genealogy. Wouldn’t that be an amazing thing to trace?! What’s more, the line is continuing! We each are part of the salvation of someone, or many someones in the future! The ripple effect stretching far beyond what we can even begin to imagine; and our rescue had already planned by God before the beginning of Creation. What an incredible truth to grasp! How does that change how we see ourselves?