Cadillac To Couch

by - February 07, 2013

I recently started trying to write some of my back story.  Some turning point moments.  I didn't have a blog when I was Baby Frank and first became a Christian, or when I was very much UnGracefully Frank and a little off course by a thousand miles.  Usually, I share about what has just happened.  But, here are a couple of stories of things that just happened a long time ago, and brought me to all of the stories that just happen now.  I wrote these a few months ago, but a few hours ago I got out of a counseling session where a woman several years younger than me, basically told me the same story you'll read below.  Different cars, different street names, a few different roads; same Jesus, some of the same questions.  Today she sat before me on the Couch.  Tonight I get to praise God I'm off of it, and had an opportunity to listen to her as my mom did me.  So, if she and I have both been here and there, maybe some of you have, too.  

The Cadillac

I’m sitting in the front seat of a cream colored, two-door, 1981 Cadillac Coupe de Ville with wire rims and cream colored leather interior. It’s night. It’s just me and mom in the car. I can see a million stars looking out the windshield over the roof of our house sitting in the cul-de-sac on Oriole Street, and I just asked Jesus into my heart.

My 2nd grader heart felt fear and relief as I asked Jesus into it. I know that language is getting some debate today, but in that moment for me it was real. I loved Jesus and I knew he loved me, and now he was mine. So with that done, we have to get inside because I have to take a bath and go to bed. Tomorrow is a school day. Whine a little bit, get my parents to bring me some water, tell me a story about leprechauns and rainbows (my favorite bedtime tale), decide which stuffed animal would get to sleep in the big bed with me, curl up under my yellow Holly Hobby bedspread and go “night night.” A Believer. On the path of redemption with roads way ahead already preparing to diverge.

Mom and I have swapped hair color, Chris doesn't wear brown suits anymore, and Daddy 
has shaved since then, but that is the car I was sitting in when I asked
Christ to be my Savior.  This is an Easter morning picture a couple of years before
that night, and I'm pretty sure Dad didn't wear that t-shirt to church. 

I don’t remember the exact day or words, but I remember the exact spot where I asked Jesus to be my Savior. I still drive by our old house sometimes to reminisce and see the mailbox my dad put in and the tree in the front yard we planted about the same time I started kindergarten.  It wasn't all that long ago.  We were church-goers. I don’t remember Sunday School lessons about heaven and hell. I remember loaves and fishes. Giants and slingshots. Angels and a manger. Walking on water, and that Jesus loved me because I was a little children. But I don’t remember being taught about hell. I do remember a few times tuning into a sermon about Hell though. And I do remember lying in bed, listening to the alarm clock radio mom and dad let me have where in my memory Glory of Love is always playing, and thinking that even Heaven sounded a little bit scary…going up so high and staying so long…like forever. But, I liked Jesus and every time they talked about him my heart would just about pound out of my chest. I wanted him to save me. I did lie sometimes. I looked my parents in the eye without flinching and told them it was not me who put the loaf of bread in the microwave with the metal twisty still holding it closed, which sparked a fire burning the plastic bread sack all over the bread and microwave. And, it was not me who just threw it on the counter and ran. I’m pretty sure they had to of known the truth, but I didn’t crack. I was a no good dirty liar, and if lying was a sin, and Jesus saved sinners, I needed saving. I also sometimes said (said/say, whatever) dirty words, and went into my brother’s room when he wasn’t home and played with his stuff. Specifically Luke, Leia, Han and the Millennium Falcon. The depth of my depravity knew no end.

After asking Jesus into my heart and life, I remember being so excited to get to church on Sunday to tell my Sunday School teacher that I was saved! I finally did it!  I couldn’t wait to go down the aisle in big church and let everyone come by and shake my hand. One of the deacons came over to our house and talked with me about what I had decided: that I was a sinner and I believed who Jesus is, and I wanted/needed him to save me. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believeth in him will not perish, but have ever lasting life. John 3:16  So they scheduled my baptism for an upcoming Sunday night, which mom and dad followed up with some ice cream at Braums, which is how we celebrate in Oklahoma. I couldn’t wait to get to school the next day and tell everyone. I’m SAVED! However, neither me nor Jesus were the scuttle butt on the playground. A couple of my friends knew what I was talking about, but no one really cared. They were lining up to get a drink at the water fountain, not to shake my hand. “Uh…so who wants to play 4-square? Anyone up for Red Rover or House?” Maybe one of the first of many times I kind of scooted Him back behind me.

I had asked for His life in me, and he gave it. It would be years before I would give my life to Him. 

Another brief aside...We can't just stop at John 3:16 and we can't throw it out either.  It's no less true today than it was when written..."whosoever believe..."  But, we have to be sure what we believe.  Do we believe in a prayer?  Or in WHO Jesus Christ truly is.  That is a really important question.  If you can say "I prayed a prayer" but you can't say "I have a relationship with Christ," even a strained one, then start asking questions. My relationship with Him has been strained before...

The Couch

Mom and I were sitting on the couch. Still in our pajamas. Again, I don’t remember the exact day. We were a long way from that starry night in the front seat of the Cadillac. I was on a big peach colored couch in a room with mint green walls, and dark wood trim.  Our living room in Ponca. My senior picture hung on the wall next to my brother’s, and it had been many years since the nails were driven to hang them. Probably almost ten. I’m sure I was holding onto a pillow, as per usual, and drinking coffee. (Weak coffee.) I don’t know my exact words, but as I spent several years sounding much like a broken record, it is not hard to retrace my verbal steps. I’m sure I reminded her how much I used to love the Lord. Probably listing my resume from youth group years, how I didn’t get into that much trouble and tried to share Jesus with friends so they wouldn’t go to Hell. And all the love I felt for Christ at Falls Creek, where my relationship with Christ grew each year.  I always learned so much, and surrendered to live my life for Him.  I actually went forward one year to be the wife of a preacher. True story. I surrendered to be a wife. Cute. I knew God was calling me to live for him, but I was not going to go to Africa (which basically just symbolized all places beyond the borders of Oklahoma) and I am not called to pastor a church, so I must be called to be one’s wife, to help him in his ministry. Missionary or Preacher’s wife were my only known choices. Heart pounding out of my chest again, I went forward and surrendered to God...and the husband I’ve still never met.  :)  My teen years.  Good times.

I’m sure, as I sat there talking to Mom, I even confessed the years that I turned from the Lord and followed my own will. Knowing I sinned against him in relationships and actions but that I was a lot better than a lot of other sinners, and repenting of those things I had lived as best as I could. I know that led me to a discourse on the reasonable doubt that God must not exist, because I knew him in my youth, I had been trying to live a good life, and my life still was not what I wanted it to be. Where was He? (I thought that having a relationship with God meant Him giving me the life I wanted; not about me giving back to Him the life He gives me.) The Christians I was surrounded by (I was not in church, but worked with some professed Christians) were some of the meanest people I had ever been around; and the people of other religions, and of no faith, were the people I was growing in relationship with, and saw their hearts to do good. I didn’t see God in my life, I didn’t see good in people who professed God in their life, and I was tired of the struggle. I didn't realize then, that I was justifying and passing blame off on others for me not having a growing relationship with God. I let their hypocrisy be my scapegoat. I kind of don't think Jesus is going to say "Oh what? Are you serious!?!?  They were hypocritical so that is why you didn't follow me?  I totally get that.  It's totally ok that you looked to their life to justify yours...instead of looking to Mine." I know that now, but it was a long road to finally see it.  My 20's.  Good times.

As my mom listened to me telling her that I didn’t know if God was real and why, she cried. And, so did I. She’s not usually one with a lack of words, but she didn’t say much that day. I was a little unsettled she didn’t try hard to fight me on it, because I was ready with my defense. She knew I hadn’t been in church for years, and the only thing she asked is if I would just commit to going to a women’s bible study like one she had been going to for a few years. To listen there and actually try to hear from God and not just the people I had been surrounded by. She was as discouraged for me as I was.  She didn’t lecture me, she just asked that I do a little bit more leg work before I called it quits. The road I was on was diverging again, and she pointed, didn't push, me in a direction that led to Life.  She knew Whose words I needed and that her words wouldn’t have worked that day. She went to Bible Study Fellowship in Ponca, and there were a couple of women’s groups that met in Tulsa. I told her I would go.  (And, I did.)

I had sat by her in the Cadillac and prayed to accept Christ, and then I sat by her on the Couch and renounced him.

(Thanks for always sitting by me Mom.)

"You do not fail in obedience through lack of love, but you have lost love because you never attempted obedience."  C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength

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