I was born in Germany where Dad was stationed in the Air Force. We moved to the States when I was 2 and settled in West Texas where Dad was an instructor at Goodfellow Air Force Base. When my parents decided we needed to find a church, they found Baptist Temple because it had the same name as the church in Kansas City where they were married. I began my way through the children's classes.
The first day of the Beginners' Department, I joyfully marched in with all the other fresh four year olds to the big kids class. We sang new songs and divided up by age and gender to our own classrooms for the first time. I relished in the bright decorations on the walls and listened intently to a story told with pictures on a flannel board. I sat taller because I just knew I was so grown.
We were Sunday School attenders. My family went to Sunday School and the went home. We didn't go to the church services. But my new department teacher invited me to Children's church! I pestered and pestered until finally my parents started staying for the church service so I could go to Children's church.
On Palm Sunday in 1966, a bright-eyed five-year-old little girl listened intently while the teacher told the story of the crucifixion. I can still see the flannelgraph figure on my Jesus dying on the cross. For the very first time, my heart was pricked with conviction. He did that just for me… just to pay the penalty for my sin.
After church, that image burned in my mind. We ate lunch and went out to play. My little brother had several disabilities and I always helped him play. I was pushing him around the neighborhood on our green pedal tractor when he decided to stop and look at something. As he wandered off, I rested on my knees behind that tractor and the conviction of the Cross flooded over me.
As a five-year-old little girl, I bowed my head there in the sunny April Sunday afternoon and asked Jesus to be my Savior. I ran in and told my mother and the next Sunday, Easter, after church my pastor knelt down to my level and for 20 minutes asked me questions about what I had done. I remember him standing and looking at my parents and saying, "She knows what she did and she understands."
Every April, as the newness of spring bursts forth around me, I remember the newness of salvation that I knew that April so long ago.
And I'm thankful.