For our Held and Beloved online study friends, below is a little more of my personal story from CHAPTER TWO:
My childhood church, where my parents still faithfully attend, holds a gospel meeting every Sunday night. Two men share the hour to tell the truth of GOD’s saving grace, again and again.
Church members and speakers meet for thirty minutes prior to that meeting, kneeling on the basement floor, to cry out to the LORD on behalf of any who might attend who do not know of their need for His redeeming power. These dear people ache to see others trust the LORD JESUS as their Savior, to know without a shadow of a doubt that because of Christ they can be declared righteous before holy GOD, safe and secure in His care until He calls them to their heavenly Home.
Even as young kids, we rarely missed a Sunday night gospel meeting. Our parents echoed those weekly prayers with their own, asking the LORD daily to lead our hearts to trust JESUS as our Savior.
The men in our church rotated responsibility for that meeting. So, there were several gentlemen who spoke regularly. One man in particular, known to us as “Uncle Bill” Goldsmith, rarely deviated his message. We heard his appeal so many times, we were sure we could quote it verbatim. As naive kids, we rolled our eyes to hear his familiar refrain . . . and sadly tuned him out.
How glorious are those two words? And how patient and faithful He is to pursue our careless hearts! I don’t remember all the steps that brought me to a change of heart, but when I was twelve years old, on one Sunday night in June, we gathered again to hear Uncle Bill’s passion for the gospel message. Only this time, his familiar words hung in the air and sank deep into my heart.
With fresh concern and determination, undeterred in his plea, Uncle Bill repeated his earnest questions:
“Down this side of the room tonight,” pausing to look into eyes and appeal to each person, then turning to the other side, “down this side of the room tonight … are you sure of heaven? Have you reached the end of your own efforts to find peace with GOD, to stand, righteous in His eyes? Will you accept the rescue only the Savior can offer?”
His words echoed in my mind all night. Waking the next morning, the first day of summer vacation from school, I lingered in bed, still wrestling Uncle Bill’s unavoidable questions.
No. I wasn’t sure of heaven. And despite the years of learning the truth of GOD’s Word, I still didn’t know how to become sure. I felt lost. Hopeless to figure it out. Defeated by the thought that I might never understand, and never find peace for my weary soul.
It was His Spirit who prepared my heart to finally hear those seemingly rote words that grabbed my attention and would not let me rest until this matter was settled. I had been concerned about my position before GOD and searching for peace longer than I’d realized! And it was His Spirit that brought three other very familiar words to mind that Monday morning:
“It is FINISHED.” John 19:30
These were the words the LORD JESUS spoke from the cross, having completed the sacrifice required by holy GOD, offering His own blood to pay the penalty for my sin. It really was that simple! There was no need to “figure it out.” I could abandon all my mental gymnastics, all my own efforts to “get it right,” and simply rest in what was already accomplished and freely offered to me!
Forty years later, I still rest completely and solely on the FINISHED work of Christ for me. I stand accepted before holy GOD, with enduring peace in my soul and secure hope (confident expectation) in my heavenly Home.
In recent years, our summer road trips have taken me back to my childhood home each July, and I sleep in that same bedroom where “It is FINISHED” became my eternal reality. As I drift off to sleep each night, I savor the glow of the quintessentially Pennsylvanian candlelight in the window, still overwhelmed by gratefulness for parents who first told us the story of JESUS and pointed our hearts to trust Him!
** WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS? **
Are you sure of heaven? Do you know lasting peace from being made right and whole in GOD’s sight by Christ’s redeeming work on the cross?
What seemingly familiar words or experiences might the LORD be using to speak to your heart and draw it to His?
What truth in GOD’s word might bring fresh clarity and reassurance to your weary soul?
. . .
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