Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: LOVE (agape and/or phileo) (03/12/15)
- TITLE: I Surrender All
By Pauline Carruthers
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Focusing on the faint haze of steam rising from the clear water of the baptismal pool, Sandra left her seat and walked determinedly to the front of the church. The pastor, aware of her nervousness, stretched out an encouraging hand as she stepped up to the pool and turned to face her new friends, a crumpled sheet of paper clutched in her trembling hand. An awareness of a vast sea of familiar faces, glowing with affection, silently cherishing, inwardly praying their love into her fragile ego, cocooned her in a protective shield.
Stumbling over the first few hesitant words she became aware of feminine arms joined in support across her shoulders.
“The night I met Jesus began as one of the darkest of my life. I had just walked out on a lifetime of physical and emotional abuse. Suicide seemed my only option, but I couldn’t leave my precious baby. I had nothing, just a pack of disposal nappies and Stacey’s clothes. I walked along the main road out of the village, not knowing, or caring, where we were going, so long as we never returned.”
The church was silent, every ear intently listening, every heart willing strength into this newly transformed beautiful child of God. Silvery blonde hair, fine and long, brushing pale cheeks, resting on frail shoulders. A shy smile dimpled her delicate face, creating an almost ethereal radiance. She continued her story, hesitating frequently, as if afraid to lose herself in the telling.
“Car headlights blinded me for a moment and I remember praying for the first time in my life, as the car slowed, stopped, then reversed. Panic almost choked my breath away, until I realised it was Jim, the social worker.”
Sandra stood quietly, shifted position and carefully folded her notes, pushing them deep into her pocket, before continuing.
“You probably all know my story. I came to you as a new Christian and you have nurtured and cared for me and for Stacey and I can’t adequately express my gratitude, but I want you to know that I treasure each one of you. And I want to share something infinitely precious with you.”
Taking a tissue from her pocket she rubbed the traces of tears from her face, took a deep breath and continued.
“My fear of men went deep, yet I knew I could trust Jim. He was different. He found us a safe place to stay, settled us in, said, ‘I’ll pray for you’, and left, demanding nothing from me. That night, as Stacey slept peacefully for the first time, I felt an overwhelming and deep longing to know Jesus. I didn’t know what to pray, yet I sensed His nearness. I knelt, quietly thinking, not knowing what to say.”
Whispered words of thankfulness mingled with Sandra’s gently spoken testimony.
“The presence was so powerful I could almost touch Him. An awesome tenderness wrapped around my heart, seeming to melt me into peacefulness, like wax sliding gracefully down a candle. I lifted my head and heard a prayer break the silence. I realised it was me. I was praying and He was listening. If I could have seen His face I would have described it as being the most gentle, heartbreakingly compassionate. His expression exquisitely tender, eyes expressing a depth of unfathomable love. In my mind I heard the words, ‘I love you’. and I knew I could trust Him. I was neither afraid nor uneasy. As I knelt there, helplessly submissive, I felt my heart surrender to the utter completeness of His intense love for me. For the first time I experienced a love that made no demands, asked nothing of me but acceptance. It was as if He were holding me in His arms and I wanted nothing more than to remain there forever, conscious of a love that was different, healing balm to a wounded soul. Not a human kind of love, but something pure and holy, devoid of human desire. Seeking only to love. And now I want to publicly declare my love for Him.”
The silence was almost tangible as she was lowered into the baptismal pool, water flowing over her radiant face. To her brothers and sisters it was a testimony in itself to witness this once fearful victim, lacking confidence, devoid of self esteem; a tightly closed unreachable chrysalis, miraculously transforming into a beautiful child of God.
The closing song rang out, joyful voices raised in praise,
‘All To Jesus I Surrender.’
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