Today was the day. She was planning to join the little church she had been visiting for the past several weeks. It was in the small Texas town where she and her husband had recently moved. They realized they were getting older and more frail, so they packed up everything and bought a house here, near their grown children. Now it was time to plant roots in her new church home. If only…
She walked down the aisle with slow, heavy steps. It should be a joyous day, but her heart was sad. The pastor grabbed her hand when she got to the front and placed his arm around her shoulders.
“Good morning, Mrs. Eason. It’s good to see you here today.”
“Thank you Brother Davis. I’ve enjoyed visiting this sweet church. I feel like family here, so I’ve decided to become a member. But…”
“It’s my husband. He’s here with me, on the back row, but he doesn’t often come to church. Matter of fact, you may not see him after today. I’ve been praying for years, for his salvation. Would you pray for him also?”
The pastor glanced up and saw an elderly, stooped gentleman with sparkling sky blue eyes, wrinkled at the corners from his smile. In one hand, he had a cane, and in the other was his Sunday best cowboy hat. There was a spring in his step that belied his 70 plus years. He was walking confidently to the altar.
The pastor gave her a small hug and said “Mrs. Eason, if you turn around, I think you’ll see that your prayers have been answered!”
The story of my Granddad’s salvation is one of great courage and greater surrender. At his age, Grandad took that long walk from the back row to the front and admitted: “Yes, Lord, I believe You sent Your Son Jesus to die for me, a sinner. I need Jesus as my Savior.” Granddad yielded the life he had controlled for more than 70 years, to the abundant life of Jesus Christ.
That act of surrender, to salvation and the nudging of God’s Holy Spirit, was the first of many for Granddad. In the last decade of his life, the change in him was so dramatic, there was no denying God had gotten a hold of him. He surrendered his fiery temper to the fruits of the Spirit: patience, kindness and self-control. He surrendered his free time to the study of scripture. More often than not, you could find him reading his Bible while sitting in his favorite rocker.
There was a peace about him. Granddad had nailed his old, sinful nature to the cross, and offered what was left of his life to God. Time and time again, he surrendered obediently to God.
Oh, but that continual yielding is hard, isn’t it? Exchanging my will, my wants and desires for His. I would much rather sit comfortably on the back row, wouldn’t you? I mean, think what could happen if we move to the front: We could mess up, fail miserably while all the world watches. No, thank you, I’m happy back here. Aren’t you?
Why, then do I have this restlessness in my spirit, like there should be MORE to life than the view from the back? Because there is more.
When we feel like we are being nudged to move forward in faith, we need to pay attention! It very probably means we have to forgo our comfort for obedience, trusting God and His Spirit to guide us on this new adventure. Walking in faith when we’d rather flee in fear. Stretching ourselves beyond our earthly normal. Knowing – no, BELIEVING – that we have Christ living in us, and His resurrection power available to us.
This is what happens when we allow ourselves to be stretched: We have room for more growth. We have room for the Holy Spirit to move in closer to us, walking with us. Before we know it, we’re walking in sync with Him. In the surrender, we see how faithful God is to equip us for every good work. We’re stretched and pulled and extended so far beyond our ordinary, that we no longer look like ourselves. We look like Christ.
It’s worth getting out of the back row, now, isn’t it?
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42 (NIV)
Grace be with you,