I will never forget the first time I was introduced to Jesus as more than just a cold, religious statue hanging on the big wall of our church.
I was 7 and sitting at her table looking up at her. I thought she had the kindest eyes and made the best peanut butter sandwiches. She always gave us potato chips on the side. To this day I love sweet and salty together.
She was talking about Jesus like she knew him personally. I didn’t really understand what she was telling me and to be honest, I don’t remember much about it at all. Until the end.
I could hear my brothers playing with her kids outside and I wanted to play with them. As I heard my mom ringing our dinner bell and knew I had better get home, she said these words:
”So Charisse, if you pray and ask Jesus to be your Savior, I will write that in this bible and you can take it home!”
Man, I wanted that bible! It was red, shiny and simply amazing to my little eyes.
We didn’t own a bible, except for the big storybook one my mom read to us at night. This was a real bible, and a bible that would belong to me?
I nodded my head and told her I would pray.
A few days later it was mine and sat on my nightstand like my most prized possession. I was so proud I owned something so important.
Time went by. Days turned into years and we moved several times enduring a lot of heartache. I have no doubt that my sweet neighbor prayed for little, 7 year old Charisse after she gave her that bible, and I have no doubt she continued to pray.
My parents split up and without warning my mom packed up our belongings, showed up at our school and we drove away. I never did get to say goodbye to my friends. I was confused and hurting.
Did my dad know where we were going? Why wasn’t he with us?
A year passed filled with fighting and sadness. My mom moved us from our wonderful farm to the big city where everything was scary to me.
Back on our farm our beloved dog had been shot and killed, which added to the sadness. For the last ten years he had been our faithful, loving companion. There were a lot of ugly parts about my story that yea and It seemed like my tears were constant.
But then one day a glimmer of hope touched my heart. My parents made the decision that they would try again, this time with God. We found a church close by and started attending regularly. Week after week I could see a change in my mom and dad and week after week, I felt a change in my own heart. I was hearing things that were vaguely familiar to me.
I was attending Sunshine Girl’s club at church one Monday night and it all came flooding back. Even though 5 years had passed, I still remembered her kind eyes telling me about Jesus, the immense love she had for Him, as if He were a real person and not just a statue. I remembered her telling me what the word sin meant and not truly understanding.
But here I was and I finally understood.
My teacher explained that God sent His Son Jesus to earth for me. That He was born in a manger only to die a horrible death on the cross, all for the sins of mankind. She told us that this was God’s gift to us and if we understood that we were sinners and repented of those sins, our great God would forgive us. This was too wonderful for me and I asked my teacher if I could talk to her after class.
That day I knelt down and asked Jesus if He would take away my sins and be my Savior too. I didn’t have a single doubt that He wouldn’t and my life has forever been changed. I went home that night and dug that red bible out of the box in my closet and I remembered as hope filled my heart that day. I knew that no matter what my future held, Jesus would be right there with me. I would forever have that hope. Maybe it was the testimony of my kind neighbor and the love she had for her Jesus. Maybe it was her prayers for me and my family. Maybe it was her words that God burrowed deep into my heart until the day He knew I would truly receive them. Or maybe it was a combination of all these things. Sometimes I lose sight of why I do what I do. The enemy knows how to discourage and will tell me my words aren’t good enough, or that there are much better bloggers out there. He tells me I’m not worthy to pen words of hope to others because my own life is such a mess. But then I remember that little, 7 year old girl and the hope that was shared with her so long ago. The hope that kept her going and continues to be with her every single day. I might be a mess, but if we’re honest with ourselves, aren’t we all? And that’s where the enemy will never have the victory! Our hope is not dependent on us. It’s not dependent on our past or our future or how good or messed up we are. Our hope is in Jesus alone and His finished work on the cross.
I’m not here to share Charisse.
I’m here to share Jesus.
He is right there with you in all your struggles and heartaches, in your sadness and in your joys. I’m sharing the hope that only Jesus can give you, a hope that will change your life forever.
I can’t even tell you the number of bibles I’ve owned since I was 7, but I still have that red bible. It’s not shiny and new anymore, but it is still my prized possession because no matter what I have gone through in the last 47 years, it has always been there as I hold on to hope.
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