SALVATION & THE FAMILY TREE
The raised voices became roars. The arguing, like an aggravating itch. Suddenly, I had an urge to escape from it. It wasn't like my dad’s raging temper, physical abuse, or the loud family disagreements were uncommon. It was almost a daily occurrence. I loathed that middle kitchen cupboard where my dad kept a belt strap sitting atop a pile of newspapers, there for his easy access. I hated the big red welts that would still be there on my legs for school the next day. And I detested the fear my siblings and I lived in due to his temper. This particular evening however, I found myself retreating to my bedroom seeking calm, quietness, and blessed solitude. But I wasn't expecting this overwhelming shroud of peace to saturate me as soon as I stepped inside my room. I left the light off, not willing to disturb this incredible, palpable peace. Then as I lay down on my bed, not understanding but soaking it up nevertheless, the noise seemed to all but disappear from outside my room. Glancing toward the foot of my bed I then saw a man appear, completely in white, and as He stood there looking at me, I knew without a shadow of a doubt it was Jesus. My family and I weren’t Christians and the only religious experience I had had was limited Sunday-School when I was very young. At the time of this vision, I was 13. A barely-there teenager with a very ungodly world ahead of me. But the Prince of Peace had visited me that night, and He was keeping a close eye on me. And you know what? He is there, near to us all. We just have to reach out to Him and allow Him in.
God gave each of us a free will however, and as the years went by with no godly influences in my life, I listened to what the ‘world’ said was ‘normal’ and supposedly ‘right’. I remember feeling like there was something wrong with me if I didn’t hurry up and sleep with a guy or that you couldn’t have fun without drinking plenty of alcohol. I know now, they were all lies. How different and worse off my life could have been, but for God’s grace. He finally snared my attention through showing me what love was like in a family that knew Him. This family laughed and hugged and laughed some more, and one beautiful woman that’s now rejoicing in Heaven, played her guitar and sang with the voice of an angel. And just in case that wasn’t enough, when the television was later turned on, a documentary visualizing people’s after-life experiences of hell happened to be on. The part I saw stunned me, causing me to realize ‘there really IS a hell’. When this beautiful friend drove me home that night, she shared with me the Bible verses of Romans 10:9,10: ‘because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved.’ All of a sudden, I couldn’t wait to arrive home and as soon as I entered my room, my knees found the floor. I have never looked back. And why would I? To know God is to love Him. To love Him is abundant life, love, and happiness like you’ve never known.
My dad is no longer with us, and I miss him so much. Forgiveness came easy to me for him. I was able to understand that he was a little slow of mind, and that he didn't have God or the ability in himself to even try to change his behavior. My parents didn't drink alcohol thankfully, or things might have been much worse, and for that I am very grateful. But my dysfunctional childhood had without my realization, left an imprint on my character. After getting married when I was 20, I had my first child at 23 and completed our little family with 3 children by the time I was 32. I had begun changing the course of generations past by becoming a Christian and raising my children in a Christ-centered home. Having the wisdom of God available, which by the way is far superior to any man no matter how esteemed he is, I could only grow in wisdom and knowledge. It’s a journey that goes on for our lifetime, with our coach running alongside of us. Along the way God showed me I didn't need to yell at my children, I didn't need to be so angry, and I didn't need to worry so much. And so with me, and my husband, we broke the chains of our family’s legacies with God's help. We’re not perfect, but we’ve made a change for the better. Best of all, we’ve given our children the opportunity to know the Lord. And that is the most priceless gift you could ever give. I jotted down something my son wrote when he was 12 that I imagine every parent would love to hear. He said, “I feel like Peter Pan, because I don’t want to grow up. I’ve had a really happy childhood.” I couldn’t say that as a child, but I can rejoice now that Christ has brought new life to our family tree. If you have had or have a dysfunctional family, allow Jesus to restore all that’s broken and bring new life to your family tree also. God bless!
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