It was an ordinary Wednesday during the school year of 2007.
My friend and next-door teaching neighbor was absent, so there was a substitute teacher in the room. Her name was Linda Martin.
I had known Mrs. Linda for a while and thought her to be the nicest lady. As we stood by our doors greeting students, she asked if I’d like to go to church that night.
Without even processing the invitation, I said yes.
That evening I stopped at Books-A-Million to get a notebook for church. Being a neurotic note-taker, I figured I’d better be prepared. Prepared for what I did not know.
I arrived at the building and found a seat in the middle toward the front so that I could see the altar and the preacher, whoever he might be. Being studious, I knew I’d get more out of this sitting near the front.
Service began with worship—the small band playing, arms raised in praise, hands clapping. This was familiar to me since I had attended two services here before with a friend. After a few songs, the pastor took the stage, led us in prayer, and began with his message.
I hung on every word this man spoke. He spoke with passion, conviction, and authority. I was hooked. I wanted more.
When service was over, I walked to the altar and introduced myself. This pastor greeted me kindly and shook my hand. “I’m Jennie.” I said. “I’ll definitely be back. This was great.” He smiled appreciatively.
And I did get more.
I went back to church that Sunday and continued attending the Wednesday Bible studies. During one of the Sunday services, I recited the prayer of salvation aloud at my seat. After service I went to the altar to let one of the pastors know that I wanted to be saved. I signed my name on a clipboard with other new believers’ names. I was given a small copy of the New Testament as a guide to begin my journey as a Christian.
That was it.
There were no fireworks.
My name was not announced over a public address system.
No James Earl Jones voice declared, “Jennie, I am your father.”
It was that simple. I decided to follow Christ after a friend introduced Him to me on a random Wednesday.
While there weren't fireworks does not mean that there wasn't change.
Meeting Christ marked the beginning of change in my life.
· I saw things differently.
· I perceived things differently.
· I processed things differently.
· I responded to the people around me differently.
· I became acutely aware of the enemy’s very real presence.
I learned the power of prayer
I continued attending church service each Sunday. I met the kindest woman, Ms. Joanne. She was the first to welcome me, pray with me, chat with me. It was meeting her that encouraged me to go to the altar for prayer. This was new to me. I prayed for my voice and for my job.
Being a classroom teacher, I used my voice as an instructional tool. With it I explained, I repeated, I affirmed, I praised, I corrected, I laughed, I elaborated—all day. By year eleven, I was struggling with chronic laryngitis and constant pain in my neck. I needed relief and figured prayer could be just the remedy.
Not long after, with summer approaching, I received a phone call from my assistant principal. She was calling to recommend me for the master teacher position. This call was then followed by a conversation with my principal. The promotion meant trading the demands of the classroom for coaching teachers, providing professional development, and promoting best practices.
I was torn. I loved my job as an English teacher. To this day it is still the best job I’ve ever had. However, I knew leaving the classroom would provide the relief and healing my voice, throat, and neck craved. So I interviewed for the position and accepted the job later that summer.
This is how I learned God not only heard but also answered prayer. My voice was restored, my neck no longer ached, and I was still making a difference in the classroom.
I wanted to know everything there was about church, Christ, the commandments, the Word. I was on fire and wanted more, so when Pastor spoke about baptism and joked, “Who wants to be sprinkled when you can get dunked? I thought, “Me! I want to be submerged, drenched, soaked with the Holy Spirit.” A few weeks later I was water baptized.
I learned so much in the following years attending church:
· I learned to worship—to raise my hands in praise and thanksgiving.
· I learned to pray—to seek God’s will, His way.
· I learned to obey—to move when He moves, go where He goes.
· I learned to trust—to submit to God’s plan, to relinquish control.
· I learned to wait—to accept God’s timing.
· I learned to listen—to hear the Holy Spirit speaking.
· I learned truth—to read the Word and live it out each day.
· I learned discernment—to measure and weigh according to Christ’s standards.
Some of this I learned the hard way. Much of it I am still learning.
I learned the power of the Word
Reading and relying on the Word became the foundation of my existence, my survival day to day. The first scripture I remember studying was Philippians 4:6-7
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Apparently I was a worrier and a planner. I highlighted this key verse, put a smiley face sticker by it, and read it over and over and over. I taped it to my bathroom mirror and my desk at work. I knew I had to stop fixating on things I could not control. I had to acknowledge that God alone reigned sovereign, supreme, and just over my small little world.
The second scripture that caught my attention was Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
At the time I was struggling in a relationship. I needed guidance. I needed help. So this Scripture too I taped to my bathroom mirror. Only this time I personalized the piece by inserting my name. These words became a prayer that I held to tightly, that I trusted, that I professed repeatedly.
How was I to know that this very scripture would become a banner for my life in 2013?
God is so good!
I learned of God's faithfulness
My pastor prayed with me and explained to me the pitfalls of expecting too much of others and that I would likely be disappointed by those I loved the most, but that God would never fail me.
God then revealed to me Psalm 118:8
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans.
Similarly, Psalm 146:3 says
do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.
This was hard for me to reconcile since I had learned from the world to expect a lot and get a lot, to set the standard high and others would reach it.
This was the school of thought in college. It was part of my course work to be a teacher. To this day, we believe if we set the bar high, we will get high marks. However, this theory lacks reliability when tested against scripture.
I learned about Grace
And so there is grace. God gives it to us, so we can extend it to others.
Thank goodness because Lord knows I do not measure up!
Meeting Jesus Christ marked the beginning of change in my life but choosing to be in relationship with Him has given me life abundantly.
My salvation is much like Footprints in the Sand. I have trusted and obeyed and seen two sets of prints. I have doubted and feared and seen one set of prints. For these times I am thankful the Lord has carried me.
My heart's desire is for you to know Jesus. Are you saved? Is your name written in the Lamb’s book of life?
If you're not sure, let's change that today.
Profess Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior. You’ll be amazed at the change.