I will never forget the first time I was introduced to Jesus as more than just a cold, religious statue hanging on the big wall of our church.
I was 7.
I was sitting at her table looking up at her. I thought she had the kindest eyes and made the best peanut butter sandwiches. She always gave us potato chips on the side. To this day I love sweet and salty together. She was talking about Jesus like she knew him personally. I didn’t really understand what she was telling me. To be honest, I don’t remember much about it at all.
Until the end.
I could hear my brothers playing with her kids outside and I wanted to go play with them. And then I heard my mom ringing our dinner bell, and I knew I better get home.
And that’s when she said these words~
”So Charisse, if you pray and ask Jesus to be your Savior, I will write that in this bible and you can take it home!”
Man, I wanted that bible.
It was red and shiny and new.
It was amazing to my little eyes.
We didn’t own a bible, except for the big storybook one my mom read to us at night.
This was a real bible!
A bible that would belong to me?
I nodded my head and told her I would pray.
A few days later that bible was mine. It sat on my nightstand like my most prized possession. I was so proud I owned something so important.
Time went by.
Days turned into years.
We moved several times.
We went through a lot of heartache. I have no doubt that my sweet neighbor prayed for little, 7 year old Charisse after she gave her that bible, and I have no doubt she continued to pray.
My parents split up.
Without warning my mom packed up our belongings, showed up at our school and we drove away. I never got to say goodbye to my friends. I was confused and hurting.
Did my dad know where we were going? Why wasn’t he with us?
A year passed. A year full of fighting and sadness. My mom moved us from our wonderful farm to the big city. Everything was scary to me. Back on our farm our beloved dog had been shot and killed, which added to the sadness. For the last ten years he had been our faithful, loving companion. There were a lot of ugly parts about my story that year. It seemed like my tears were constant.
But then one day a glimmer of hope touched my heart. My parents made the decision that they would try again, this time with God. We found a church close by and started attending regularly. Week by week I could see a change in my mom and dad. Week by week I felt a change in my own heart. I was hearing things that were vaguely familiar to me.
I was attending Sunshine Girl’s club at church one Monday night and it all came flooding back. Even though 5 years had passed, I remembered like it was yesterday. I remembered her kind eyes telling me about Jesus. I remembered the immense love she had for Him, as if He were a real person, and not just a statue. I remembered her telling me what the word sin meant and I remembered at the time not truly understanding.
But here I was now.
I finally understood.
My teacher explained that God sent His Son Jesus to earth for me. That He was born in a manger only to die a horrible death on the cross. All for the sins of mankind. She told us that this was God’s gift to us. That if we understood that we were sinners and we were repentant of those sins, our great God would forgive us.
All because of Jesus.
He could be my Savior.
This was too wonderful for me.
I knew now why my sweet neighbor loved Him so much. She knew Him personally. He took away her sins and saved her from eternity in hell. He loved her immensely,
more than she could ever love Him.
And He loved me.
I asked my teacher if I could talk to her after class and that day I knelt down in the back of that little church and asked Jesus if He would take away my sins and be my Savior too. I didn’t have a single doubt that He wouldn’t, and my life has forever been changed.
I went home that night and dug that red bible out of the box in my closet. And I remembered.
Hope filled my heart that day.
I knew that no matter what my future held, Jesus would be right there with me.
I would forever have that hope.
Maybe it was the testimony of my kind neighbor and the love she had for her Jesus. Maybe it was her prayers for me and my family. Maybe it was her words that God burrowed deep into my heart until the day He knew I would truly receive them. Or maybe it was all of these things.
Sometimes I lose sight of why I started this page. Satan knows how to discourage and get in my head. He tells me my words aren’t good enough. He tells me there are much better bloggers out there. He tells me I’m not worthy to pen words of hope to others because my own life is such a mess.
But then I remember that little, 7 year old girl and the hope that was shared with her so long ago. The hope that kept her going and continues to be with her every
I might be a mess, but if we’re honest with ourselves~aren’t we all?
And that’s where Satan will never have the victory~our hope is not dependent on us. It’s not dependent on our past or our future or how good we are or how messed up we are. Our hope is in Jesus alone and His finished work on the cross.
I’m not here to share Charisse.
I’m sharing Jesus.
I’m right there with all of you in your struggles and heartaches, in your sadness and in your joys.
I’m sharing that hope that only Jesus can give.
I will continue to share and I will continue to pray for you all~
just like my neighbor did so many years ago.
Because I want you to have that same hope burrowed deep inside your heart.
A hope that will forever change your life.
I can’t even tell you the number of bibles I’ve owned since I was 7, but I still have that red bible. It’s not shiny and new anymore but it is still my prized possession because no matter what I have gone through in the last 47 years,
it has always been there~