We had six high school graduates in the congregation at West Huntsville this spring. It’s been great fun watching three of them grow up and getting to know the other three later in the game. They are all special to our West Huntsville family. Savanna is a pianist and vocalist. Ryan is a landscaper and a football player. Emma sings with her dad (and they are very talented!). Rachel likes to perform on stage and lead singing for women. Jacob is also a stage musician. Come to think of it, it was the year of musically talented graduates. They are all wonderful Christian people.
But Nuris is a stand-out in some other ways. She’s thirty-six years old, a native El Salvadorian, and is the mother of four. You may remember reading about her baptism two years ago here: http://thecolleyhouse.org/crazy-happy. That weekend was even far better than this one. But still, this was a pretty special weekend for Nuris. It was the culmination of years of studying the English language and then the geography, history and culture of the United States of America, along with some math and science. It took many days (years, actually) of searching, in a house with two small children, for quiet moments to study the materials needed for obtaining this high school diploma. I was there for a few tutoring sessions and we never found the quiet. We just yelled louder than the babies.
I remember that day when Nuris first visited our services. She was one of those people who didn’t really “look like” a good prospect for conversion to Christ. After all, she could speak little English, she had a demanding newborn baby, her husband wasn’t with her, and she told me she did not want to study on that very first day I met her. Still, I gave her a card with my phone number and told her to let me know if she changed her mind. She did,
She changed her mind, her life, her religious affiliation, her marriage, her parenting and her spiritual family. She changed her eternal status from lost to saved. She was ultimately baptized into Christ for the remission of her sins, becoming a member of His church. Her daughters were given the gift of having a Christian mother.
With the help of God and many people, now Nuris is a high school graduate. She is the one who received the standing ovation last Friday night at the North Alabama Christian School graduation ceremony. She is the one who requested the song “ They Word is a Lamp unto My Feet” for the music for her graduation slide show. She is the one whose extra-curricular activities were not softball, guitar and Lads to Leaders, but diapers, dishes, bills and emergency C-sections. She is the one who is over-the-moon excited about a cap and gown.
People can change. They do it all the time. People can change minds, hearts, lifestyles, directions and destinies. Many who are reading the blog, though, do not need to change directions or make big lifestyle transformations . You just need encouragement to stay the course…to finish the race in some of the darkest spiritual days in American history. You need encouragement when you look at the presidential ballot, the restrooms at Target. the Boy and Girl Scouts, the Vatican, the Barna surveys and the pornography and gambling industries. You need encouragement as you empty the over-flowing Diaper Genie (in your sleep) or administer meds to the Alzheimer patient or explain to a four-year-old why you can’t go to the movie about his favorite super-hero. You need to be reminded of the inherent brevity of trials and the impending beginning of eternal perfection. The land of good and right and health and rest is just around the corner for all of those who stay the course.
I know you have friends who’ve decided that the Bible is for the uneducated, that the old-fashioned religion is for simpletons, and that there really is no eternal truth. They make all kinds of claims about mistakes in the Word and errors committed by the Savior. They make personal accusations about your sincerity and motives as you try to reach out to them and others with the gospel. But be encouraged. The day is swiftly approaching when all of the mockers will bow before the God who put original life and breath in them (Romans 14:11). You will be there as he judges the living and the dead (II Timothy 4:1). You will experience the final victory when sin is permanently banished never to plague you again.
So for now, let’s praise him for the window of opportunity for change. Let’s ask people to study His Word with us. Let’s pray for His will in this place of our temporary citizenship. Let’s love the fellowship of His like-minded people. Let’s bask in the peace that passes understanding that comes as we turn our sorrows and petitions heavenward (Philippians 4:4-9). Let’s turn a bright light on our fears and realize they are just a child’s monsters under the bed. Our Father will come in and suddenly they will be gone. His Word is the great expositor of evil and the final rewarder of His own. Claim the joy along with Nuris. Sing her favorite Psalm today!
“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Nothing will I fear as long as You are near. Please be with me to the end.”