It was about this time of year, 28 years ago, that I began to have a burden I could not explain. One day, through tears, I tried to explain it to my dad who had been my pastor for most of my life. He was obviously so filled with compassion for me and his tender and wise voice said these words, " It sounds like an evangelistic heart to me." Those were words I didn't fully understand at the time but found a bit of relief as he spoke them. What was an evangelistic heart? If that explained this overwhelming cry for lost souls and brokenness for people I had never met or even seen before, then I guess that might be it. He lovingly invited me to come "sing for him", as he put it. Singing had been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I didn't consider myself a great singer, but loved to sing. It was for me a way to communicate the deep feelings of my heart. And so I accepted his invitation.
I was newly married at the time. God had so tremendously blessed me with the love of a man I did not deserve and through that love He had taught me of a grace I had never known. The true grace of God that pardons and cleanses, revives and restores. God's grace that does not give us what we deserve but rather what we could never deserve. Grace so amazing it would be entirely unbelievable if it were not for the God who gives it, revealing in our hearts a knowledge that passes knowledge. Faith to undertand what cannot be understood any other way. It was that grace in my heart that so longed to express to someone else that what the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord had done for me, He would do for them, whoever they were, it didn't matter! I knew where I had been and what I had done and God had forgiven all my sin. I knew that this loving, gracious God would forgive them too, they just needed to hear...hear the story of Jesus. I was a living breathing example of the grace of my Saviour. With those credentials alone, and a heart that loved to sing, I traveled to Cuba, Missouri, Calvary Assembly of God with 2 small children, a baby, and three songs in hand...to sing for my dad.
My dear husband, Marty, was working that day and couldn't make the trip. He was a Missouri State Trooper. He had seen my struggle and wanted so much to help. He had told me he would do anything to support me but just didn't see how he could be part of a singing ministry at that time.
And so I made the trip. It proved to be the most humiliating night of my life. Just as God would graciously have it! I left the church that night and cried the entire trip home. We lived about an hour and a half away and at least I wouldn't have to face those people again for awhile. God was certainly in that humiliation. His word says he resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. I see now, that was the first step in a long road of learning it is not about my ability or my goodness but it is all about His glory and power, His goodness and grace.
When I reached home, Marty was still at work. I tucked the older children in their beds and the baby beside me on a pallet next to our bed. In the quiet of that night, I poured my heart out to the Lord. I remember feeling it was surely the first and last time I would do something like that. Not relieved of the burden in any way but embarrassed that I had ever even thought I could have some kind of singing ministry of my own.
That night was not the end. It was a beautiful beginning. I prayed a prayer that night on that pallet beside my 8 month old baby boy. I told God that I just wanted to go on record with Him that my answer was Yes. I didn't want to stand before Him one day and find out that He had something for me to do and I had said no, so I wanted to tell him..."My answer is Yes." I would sing for Him but He was going to have to work it out because I had no idea how to do it. Then I said, "I will sing for you, but if it brings you more glory for me to stay right here in this house and be Marty's wife and raise our children and never sing, I will do that. Whatever brings you most glory is what I want. That is all I want." And with that I went soundly to sleep. I woke with a peace i didn't have the day before. I went about my day, caring for the children with lightness in my heart. I had truly given my desires to the Lord and He had given me His peace. I didn't tell Marty or anyone for that matter what had happened. I really was ok and I finally had peace.
It was either later that day or the next day that Marty came in the house and laid two brochures on the counter in the kitchen where I was working. I looked at them and found they were for PA equipment. He said he didn't really know what happened. He was in the patrol car working and started thinking about singing. (By the way, Marty has a tremendous singing voice). He said he realized that he really wanted to do that someday so why was he waiting? it was that surrender to the Lord that ushered in all the wonderful years of serving Jesus, in singing ministry, that we have enjoyed. Twenty Eight years later we can truly say we wouldn't have missed it for the world! What a Blessing!
We have come a long way since those days of surrender. Every day must continue to be a day of surrendering our hearts and lives to Jesus and His will over ours.
We have raised our family now and we have entered a new phase of our lives and ministry. We loved watching our family grow and no matter how many times people tell you it will go fast, it goes much faster than we ever can imagine. I could be sad if I think too long about the times when our busy house was filled with the sounds of children playing, but, as good as all of that was the thing that was there from the start and so thankfully remains is the love that started it all. God's love in a man and woman holding them tightly together, come what may. We are making new memories last. Sometimes we laugh and say if people could see us they might think we need adult supervision! That usually happens while I am making rice krispie treats, one of our favorites on movie night, and Marty is scraping the pan for the goodness left behind. We are having way too much fun to be believed and I want to treasure every moment. Life can change in an instant and people we love can be suddenly gone. We have had those moments. I want to make the most of every opportunity to enjoy the blessing of this life God has given me. Thank you for listening. May you find encouragement that no matter where you are this very minute, God is there. He will help you and give you Hope for a bright tomorrow. God Bless you!