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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Surprised (09/06/07)

TITLE: Letting Go
By Marilee Alvey


One by one, each of our children wandered away from the faith. I prayed:

“God, you promised that, ‘train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he’ll not depart from it.’ I’ve done the best I can to keep the bargain, so, please keep your promise!”

I talked, no, pleaded, no, begged my kids with occasional rants that ended in, “I hope you know that I can’t even die because you’re not saved!” Yeah, that helps. The Madwoman of Driftwood Road wants you to think like her.

My oldest child, Wendy, was bright, stubborn and opinionated. At twelve years old, she informed me,

“When I grow up, I might be a Muslim or something, but I’ll never be a Christian. I hate Christians! They’re always throwing the Bible in your face!”

To get Wendy to attend church each Sunday, we had to peel her fingers from the door jam, forcing her into the car. In high school, she’d pass the Communion plate like it was a dessert tray..and she was full. To her, a church was a place where they sold the best cookbooks. College supplied her with a liberal mindset. For Wendy, the Bible was a book of fables. STRIKE ONE!

Next was my middle child, Brandon. His loving and sweet nature mutated into teen angst replete with bitterness and distrust. As he began high school, we initiated the “go to church, and go out to lunch at a restaurant after” program. At six foot two, he was too big to force. Brandon stayed in that program for all of high school. In college, his rear end never met a pew. Though we had many late night discussions, he would not believe. STRIKE TWO!

Two strikes, then Bret stepped up to the plate. He, also, fell into the “Sunday Restaurant Plan” in high school. Sometimes I was hopeful: he’d put money in the offering plate. SCORE! He would sometimes seem to pray deeply in church. I would later find out that his lifestyle required much prayer. Off to college he went. Churches, to him, was a brand of fried chicken. STRIKE THREE!

They grew up and moved on. Wendy was working in Spain, a spiritually dead country. I prayed for a mentor, but it seemed hopeless. Then, one day I wrote her an e-mail telling her that her father and I were going to be baptized by immersion. I held my breath for the backlash of her cutting tongue. SURPRISE! She asked if we’d wait so she could get baptized with us over Christmas vacation! God had called her, in the midst of a vacuum. She’d begun reading the Bible to help win at Trivial Pursuit, but, one night, began to cry. She apologized to God when she realized that everything in that book was true. Six months later she moved to Paris, France, and fulfilled her new ambition of passing out one Bible to Muslims, in their language, each week. God does have a sense of humor!

Brandon graduated from college and traveled to California, taking a job as a car salesman. When I visited him, I would secretly throw out the materials that cult members gave him. Again, I prayed for a mentor, but what hope did I have, so far away? Who cared more for him than I? SURPRISE! One day, out of the blue, Brandon called us to tell us he’d heard the call. He came home to live and got baptized in our church. He became the singles leader and sang on the church worship team.

Bret remained adrift, graduating from college and living in Arizona. A mentor…please, Lord? His dangerous lifestyle had made him reflective. One evening he passed by a bookstore and saw the title, “The Purpose Driven Life.” Bret had always wondered what the purpose was for all of his life, as difficult as it had been. He bought the book and began attending church, on his own. SURPRISE! One day we answered the phone to find that he, too, had answered the call. He began setting up and greeting at church.

God called each of my children. He used no mentors and, I believe, purposely waited until they were far away from me, to reveal His glory. Sometimes I have people come up to me and say, “I wish my kids were like yours…. Such strong believers!” I just laugh and ask them, “Has your child ever threatened to become a Muslim?!”
My childrens' names have been changed here, but all other details of this story are factual.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Sherry Wendling09/14/07
A heartwarming testimony to God's faithfulness! You portray a mother's spiritual frustrations with a delightful, light touch. (I could just picture your daughter "passing the communion plate like a dessert tray"!)
The three paragraphs describing how the Holy Spirit nabbed each one might have been set up a bit more clearly, but once Wendy got zapped---BAM, BAM, BAM! You had me on the edge of my seat. Great ending, too!
Dee Yoder 09/14/07
Wow! Every parent in America who has a wayward child should read this testimony. Powerful, honest, and filed with hope, it really ministered to me! I haven't experienced this kind of pain, and I pray I won't, but you never know with a teen in the house! If it happens, I'll always remember the way God called your children back to Him.
Mo 09/14/07
Wow, that last line makes this extra special.
Joanne Sher 09/15/07
What an amazing lesson for us all - and what an incredible testimony you have. This truly blessed me.
Verna Cole Mitchell 09/15/07
Thanks for sharing your dear story--a wonderful reminder never to give up on praying for those we love to seek and find the Lord.
Dianne Janak09/20/07
Marilee... another MASTER piece and so real, funny, scary, encouraging, teaching truth to all moms and dads who either think that they got it made but don't have teens yet, or for those whose kids are fighting with the world's demons trying to figure it all out! BRAVO mom... you have some crowns coming (imho)!! Good writing
Kristen Hester09/20/07
Thank you for sharing this. I had chills. God works in His way, not ours. You have blessed me today.