Happy Independence Day to all the folks celebrating in the United States! Patty Smith Hall here, and I’m tickled red, white and blue to be hosting the Craftie Ladies today. Being someone who absolutely adores the lessons found in history, my day will be spent with my husband, watching some of the great movies highlighting our country’s struggle to remain a free and independent people throughout our 236 year history. (I’ve already got the DVR set to record ‘1776‘ first thing in the morning!)
But today, I want to share with you another independence day some 41 years ago. There was a battle going on that summer, a war for a different kind of independence, one far more important and with eternal consequences. Most wouldn’t even have thought of it as warfare, considering the spoils of that battle was just my nine year old heart.
But Jesus, He wanted that heart of mine.
Which should have been easy pickings. After all, my momma and daddy had me in church every time the sanctuary doors were unlocked. From the time I was two weeks old until I was nine, I never missed a Sunday or Wednesday night service. Heck, I even went to two or three vacation Bible schools just for good measure. But that summer I was nine, I began to realize going to church and giving my heart to Christ weren’t the same thing. And even with nine years of good Bible teachings under my skinny belt, I wasn’t sure what to do about it.
Independence Day fell on a Sunday, sticky and blazing hot. Momma said we couldn’t go into town for the big parade until we went to church. So Daddy hurried up and packed the car with our blankets and cooler while me and my siblings scrambled into the backseat for the trip. And I remember I couldn’t get comfortable--not physically, but something inside me. The day felt hotter and everything around me seemed out of focus. Late, we slipped into the back row. The metal chair seemed to grab my little legs as I sat down, but not as much as the pastor’s words did. He spoke of freedom in Christ--that much I remember before I felt it. That knock on the door of my heart, asking to come inside. I knew it was Christ, I knew it! And He’d come for me! All I had to do was accept Him into my heart! When the preacher stood for the altar call, I shot up our of my chair. I had to get down to that altar, had to kneel before Jesus and tell Him how sorry I was, how much I wanted Him in my heart.
And when I stood and looked around, everything snapped into focus. It was as if I’d had scales on my eyes and with one touch to my heart, the blinders had fallen away. There wasn’t anything for me to do but accept the freedom that only Christ could offer. He had fought the battle for me! I was a part of the family of God!
Born on the Fourth of July!