Have you ever thought your time to leave this world had come? Recently, James and I faced death with blinding lights headed straight for our car. That memory makes me appreciate life even more.
This story started early one May morning when I prayed beside my bed and proceeded with my morning routine. Creflo Dollar preached about being offended and forgiving others while I exercised. Then, Joyce Myers taught about harboring resentment and forgiveness while I applied under eye concealer. The Lord had my attention. Both ministers seemed to be speaking to me. The Holy Spirit was stirring. With television remote in hand, I started to click off but couldn’t. Rev. T.D. Jakes looked me in the eyes and said, “When you stand to pray, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him. Then your Father in heaven will forgive your sins also.” Mark 11:25
Putting down the remote, I listened. Rev. Jakes spoke the same message I had heard twice. His preaching hit head on with a cleansing the Great Physician ordered for me that morning. I was convicted and couldn’t do a thing until I cleaned out my heart and became broken before God. You might be thinking ‘what terrible sins had you committed Becky’? I hadn’t murdered anyone or robbed a bank, but I had offense toward a loved one that the enemy escalated. He knows our weaknesses and works to weaken our faith. Families are prime targets. He sneaks in and starts the attack over little stuff that doesn’t seem to matter. He magnifies it and makes mountains out of mole hills. When we refuse to forgive and repent of our sins, the enemy assaults. When we keep ourselves cleaned up and centered on Christ, the devil is doomed.
God used three preachers’ messages about forgiveness to slow me down and show me He will fix things. He forgives my debts as I forgive my debtors, and reminds me little sins must be confessed too. God is a loving heavenly Father who forgives His children when we hurt Him and forgets when we confess and makes things right with Him. My heart was pounding and the silly sins I had allowed to stay were being washed away. Walking victoriously in God’s plan means choosing to walk in love and forgiveness and discovering the power in that choice.
I was forgiven but needed to find scripture to sooth my soul. Luke 6: 35-38 consoled my convicted spirit. “…You must have loving-kindness just as your Father has loving-kindness. Do not say what is wrong in other people’s lives. Then other people will not say what is wrong in your life. Forgive other people and other people will forgive you. Give, and it will be given to you. You will have more than enough. It can be pushed down and shaken together and it will still run over as it is given to you. The way you give to others is the way you will receive in return.” My tears tasted sweet as I thanked my Father for showing me His perspective and putting this pouty mama in her place. I repented, rejoiced, and was ready to head to work.
Driving to Tim’s Gift, I remembered the message in Mark 11:25. Today I could stand to pray with people God sent our way with a clean heart. I had forgiven and my Father had forgiven me. I thought of the damage done when we aren’t willing to forgive. I was determined not to look for wrong in people’s lives, especially my children, but to accentuate the good and be an example so they can see Jesus in me. I asked for an extra dose of helping me know when to hush my motherly advice and correction and waiting on God to ‘fix’ things in His time and His way.
When I entered the door and looked around the room at Tim’s Gift, I was overwhelmed with gratitude and thankfulness for the ministry where He has blessed us to share His love and give help and hope to people in need. I believe in helping wherever God leads. My heart has been touched to help people cherish Christ and be prepared to meet Him at any moment, to come closer to loved ones and the Lord, and to enjoy life. I told Loren about my time with God and it felt as if a load had been lifted off my shoulders. That’s the way it is when we give our troubles and transgressions to God. We clean up good when we let God do it.
God’s timing is perfect. That afternoon, James and I visited Mr. Thomas Robinson in Fayetteville and received blessings words can’t describe. We talked about how life can change in an instant while James drove home. Charles Stanley was preaching on the radio about God’s blessings and protection for His children. The dark sky was filled with rain as we rode along with happy hearts. Then, we saw a huge dog standing still in our lane. James swerved into the left lane with a car and transfer truck speeding toward us. I wanted to scream, ‘just hit the dog’, but my lip was buttoned; a peace flooded my heart that kept me quiet. In one split second, it looked like we would die on Hwy. 13, only a mile or two from James’ home. The approaching car started into the other lane in order to miss us, James’ car started to slide; we were in line for a direct hit from an eighteen wheeler. Suddenly, James took his foot off the brakes, his car stopped sliding, he pulled the wheel to the right, and somehow we missed the dog, the car, the ditch, and the transfer truck. We were almost home before either of us could speak. The only sound in our car was Charles Stanley’s voice telling how God is always with us. James said, ‘God was with us Becky. He has given us a second chance; when the car started to slide, I thought there was no way out, but it was like God whispered to me, ‘James, take your foot off the brake.’ I did and the car just straightened up. I can’t explain but it’s like He had the wheel.”
We rejoiced and thanked God the person in the oncoming car was a good driver too. We wondered who we almost hit and how they handled this disaster that didn’t happen. We prayed for them, that they were also reminded of God’s guidance and would come to know Him, or would come closer if they already knew Him…like we had! All of a sudden, I started singing, ‘Jesus at the wheel, thank you for saving us, we love you’! We laughed at my Carrie Underwood rendition of a song that had special meaning for us that night. Has Jesus been at the wheel with you before? Were you ready to meet Jesus?
I shared with James earlier that day how God convicted and cleansed my heart when I confessed my sins that morning. Cleansing and forgiving is something I tell people to do all the time, my children do it every afternoon, and I could have missed heaven with my unforgiving heart clogged up… all because I got offended. You might be saying, ‘…but Becky, that’s such a silly little sin, surely you would get to heaven. That’s what the devil wants us to think, that we are okay with a tiny sin here or there tarnishing our big, loving hearts. God tells us the road to heaven is straight and narrow and few will enter. We can doctor it up, disregard it, downgrade it, but sin is sin and will keep us from entering paradise unless we repent , forgive, and live connected to Christ. Doing good is great, but it won’t get us to heaven. The blood of Jesus, who died for our sins, paid the price for us to enter glory.
.James and I talked about the calm spirit we felt while facing death and the peace of knowing our hearts were right with God. I thanked God for using those three preachers to get my attention that morning. He knew what we would face that night. He helped us understand Thomas’ words of how things happen in an instant that can change your life forever. James and I were changed when we faced death on that dark highway. We were brought closer to Christ and believe He spared our lives for reasons beyond our understanding. He has given us a second chance at love and at life. Our hope is that we can be a blessing to others.
Thank you to the Sampson County Relay for Life staff for working diligently to make our Relay for Life event memorable each year. To all the volunteers who give selflessly throughout the year and this week end to make Relay happen…thanks and God bless each of you! To all survivors…wear those purple shirts and walk that victory lap with thanksgiving and praise to God our Father. To all who will walk laps in memory of a loved one…remember the good times here and celebrate glory…where it’s all good. When the lights go out in the Darkhorse Stadium and HOPE and CURE burn brightly in the night sky, be still and thank God for hope, healing, and heaven.