Most things that happened 58 years ago have faded into the twilight of the distant past––but not all. Some are too directly connected to the future. One thing that remains as vivid today as when it happened on December 1, 1950 is my experience of being born the second time. The first time, I was born in Seattle, Washington, in 1928. My father had died just two weeks before. Less than a year later the Great Depression began, leaving my widowed mother in poverty with three young children. Nevertheless, one of my earliest recollections is of me, as a toddler, standing on a church pew, steadied by my mother’s arm as she testified from her seat how faithfully God was caring for us. What a precious legacy: a believing mother who lived joyfully by faith and was steadfast in adversity.
For the next twenty-two years, however, I lived without much appreciation for the sacrificial love that she demonstrated or the values that she endeavored to instill. The youngest in the family, I seemed to rebel at restraint and the example set for me by my mother and my sister, both born-again. My brother, five years my senior, comfortable with religion but unsaved, sent mixed messages, encouraging me to church activities while, at the same time, introducing me to many worldly pleasures and professing believers who pursued them. I made my choice to forsake religion and embrace the world.
In 1949, by now a youth leader in a liberal Baptist church, my brother was saved through the testimony of a young man that attended his youth meeting. His zeal to preach the gospel, resulting from his fresh salvation experience, earned him expulsion from the church. That didn’t discourage him from witnessing to me. After resisting adamantly for a year, I surrendered to the relentless persuasion of the Holy Spirit and was born again, this time into the family of God. One by one, that little family of which I am a part has moved on to take up residence in the heavenly Jerusalem: first my father, before I even joined the family; then my sister, who wanted so much to be a missionary, but was called home before she was sent out. Next, my mother at ninety-three was called home to be rewarded for her many years of faithful prayer ministry and to hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” Last year, my brother, after twenty-two years of missionary service and many more years than that of faithful witness, departed to assemble with the saints in that eternal city.
Soon it will be my turn. I have my ticket and my reservation, but I don’t yet have my itinerary. While I am waiting for that, I have purposed, by God’s grace, to continue faithful until moving day.
What a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see;
When I look upon his face, the one who saved me by his grace. He will take me by the hand and lead me through the Promised Land. What a day — glorious day — that will be!