Updated: Feb 11, 2019
Do you have a particular memory that is so powerful that whenever you think on it, all of your senses are taken back to that day as if you were living in the moment again? The look of fear on my daddy’s face as he ran after me rolling downhill in a wayward truck is branded into my memory like it just happened yesterday. As a young girl, my sisters and I often went to the woods with Daddy to collect firewood. Dad would cut logs and we were tasked with helping load it into the truck. Dad was preparing to cut down a large tree and told us to either move far away or get into the truck for safety. Even while dressed in two pairs of thick socks, a big sweater, a t-shirt, gloves and a toboggan, I was still cold and chose to get into the truck. I will never forget that truck. It was a gold 56 or 57 Chevy with the gear shift on the steering wheel. I climbed in on the passenger side with clear instructions not to knock it out of park. Still wanting to see what was going on outside, I climbed up on my knees to peer out the back window. I wiggled my way around with my little but long legs and hit the gear shift knocking the truck out of park and off we went. I could hear my Dad yelling, “HIT THE BRAKE, HIT THE BRAKE!” over my own screams, but I was paralyzed with fear. I watched the scene unfold behind the speeding truck, my Daddy’s eyes never left mine. My sisters ran helplessly behind him. The truck picked up speed as it careened downhill until a stump abruptly brought my unwanted thrill ride to an end. The next thing I knew I was safe and surrounded by my Daddy’s arms. Recently, I have been looking back at my walk with Jesus and just like the bittersweet memory of my Daddy and the truck, I can recall the many times my heavenly Father was calling out for me to “Hit the Brake” and come to Him as well. Once, I was visiting a church with childhood neighbors and saw a picture of Jesus on the wall. I was so mesmerized by it that I couldn’t take my eyes off of it and I began to cry. I couldn’t explain that feeling at all and didn’t ask anyone to help me try. My girl scout leader took us to Vacation Bible School and I was so drawn to the Lord that I wanted to say YES to Jesus and ask Him to come into my heart. But when I raised my hand someone pulled it down and said, “no silly if you do that you will have to go to this church forever!” I didn’t know if that would get me in trouble with my parents so I kept my hand down! In middle school, I visited my best friend’s church. During “big kids” church I was listening so intently to everything the leader had to say that I won an award for being the quietest. I was a little embarrassed as we left and my friend poked fun at me. I wasn’t trying to be the quietest, I was just drinking Jesus in. At a youth bonfire in high school, I felt something in my heart longing to know more about the Jesus they were talking about but was too afraid to ask because I knew my friend who had invited me there wasn’t really that into it. A group from the church across the street from my apartment came knocking on my door while I sat alone and broken from divorce. They told me about the love of our God and the gift of Jesus Christ. I said yes to Jesus that day, but didn’t know where to go from there, and the group never came back for me. Many times, I visited church to see my kids’ programs and raised my hand with every head bowed and every eye closed, begging for prayer but fearing what I would have to give up in order to finally give in to Jesus. Finally, there came the day that I walked into Westmeade Baptist Church and heard the Father whisper, “You are home, just say yes.” My husband and I accepted Christ together in our pastor’s office and then were baptized together in front of our new family, declaring to the world that the chase was over, instead of running from Jesus while he lovingly called after us we would now follow Him. God loves us and desires to have a relationship with us. He says in Ezekiel 34:11, “…I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.” He is telling the Israelites in the Chapter that He will be our Shepherd and what does a shepherd do? He watches his sheep, he meets their needs and he calls out for them when they are lost. They know his voice and he intimately knows every detail about them. Because of His great love for us, even as He is calling, God gives us the freedom to choose whether or not to answer. He will not force His sheep to come back to Him. But because of His great love for us He provided the way back to Him through His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus himself came to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10), and he took away our sins by dying on the cross which paved the way back to Father God. Through Him we have the opportunity to raise our hands, shout or whisper, YES God, I want to come home and accept your gifts of love, forgiveness and grace. Jesus will continue to seek the lost, calling out their name, whispering come home. Is today the day you are ready to just say yes? I’m so glad I did. The day this wayward girl finally hit a stump and fell into the arms of her Heavenly Father, safe and secure was the best day of my life.