2Mary Roth BIo picI have “known” Jesus for what I would say to be all of my life. I was a preacher’s kids (PK), and don’t ever remember a time that I didn’t darken the door of every service, event, revival, Vacation Bible School, and potluck that my childhood church hosted. That’s just what we did.

As a child of the 70’s, the era of the Jesus Movement was in full swing as Billy Graham Crusades drew thousands of new believers, and the edgy music of Keith Green and Andrae Crouch blared throughout our households.

We assembled ourselves Sunday morning, Sunday night, attended GA’s and Acteens (Girls in Action-You’d probably need to be Baptist! And I can STILL sing the theme song by heart) opened the Word for “Prayer Meeting” on Wednesdays, and Thursdays were designated as door-to-door “witnessing” nights.

These years shaped me in the most unique ways, although, at the same time, gave me a foggy perception of who this Jesus we sang about truly was.

I could sing, “It Only Takes a Spark” at the top of my lungs, but truly never grasped the “God’s love” thing till much later. I did, however, know that He was knocking on my heart’s door at age 7, convicting me, speaking to me, and desiring to be my Father. I prayed with my dad, asked Jesus to dwell in my heart and began my faith journey.

Some say how fortunate people are who meet Jesus as their redemptive Savior early in life. That somehow, we don’t have the same messy, seemingly unforgivable, baggage, to bring bring to God’s feet in repentance. Although, I recognized my need of Him and my sinful nature as a child, God’s grace is the same grace that saves us all. Whether it be as a child, an adult, from a pit of despair, from a jail cell, from a rehab facility…we are ALL in need of a loving Savior who redeems, forgives, and has plans for us that are completely beyond our comprehension when we surrender to Him.

It wasn’t until I left for college that I really started grasping the “relationship” piece I’d been missing for so long. I knew the “rules” of what I believed God expected me to follow. But I followed them from fear, not from a longing to know Him more. Instead, I heard, “Don’t play cards. Don’t dance. Don’t drink. Don’t smoke. Don’t swear. Don’t….” from the pulpit.

My fear of disappointing Jesus far outweighed my desire to know Him as my Father. At the same time, my childhood was built on a foundation that did instill in me that God does have expectations of us that are outlined in his Word. However, the freedom I have now in Christ has allowed me to live a life that “longs” for Him, rather than “checking off a list” to please Him.

As we’ve tried to teach our own children, we want them to seek Jesus because He is good, faithful, and truly the only way to true peace and contentment. Not to seek him for us because we expect them to, but to seek him because they realize their utter need of a Savior.

I continue to dig in his Word, seek out nuggets of truth, find solace in his redemption daily, and look to Him for guidance and strength to be the mom, wife, teacher, friend, and Gigi to my grandbabies that He knit together so very long ago.

I recently read somewhere that one should never, “…just barge in on royalty.” Oh, that I will always recognize His power, love, and all-knowing character without barging in on the King of Kings, without giving him the worship that He is due.

Only then, can my heart be ready to hear from him to show my gratitude to Him, to repent, and to bring my requests to him and to stand in the gap for the people I love and those whose paths I’ve not yet crossed.

Mary Roth

Mary Roth

"The One who calls you is faithful , and he will do it" (I Thessalonians 5:24)