My brother, who recently moved to Savannah, Georgia, to work on the staff at the Savannah Christian Church, called me recently to ask me about some details related to the spiritual heritage of our family. He’s writing a sermon about “change” and wanted to tell the story of my grandmother’s conversion. Because he’s eight years younger than I am, he doesn’t know or remember the story as well as I do.
I’ve told you before about my grandparents who owned a bar on the west side of Tulsa, Oklahoma. That was the life they lived for several years. That was the life that my mother was raised in and influenced by. That was the life that led her to make some of the choices she made as a young woman. But a little over fifty years ago, my grandmother was in a serious car wreck that crushed her pelvis. She ended up in a hospital, flat on her back with a long recovery ahead of her. It was during that hospital stay that some men from the Osage Hills Christian Church visited her and told her that God loved her and explained to her how she could have her sin forgiven and receive the gift of eternal life. That visit was the beginning of an incredible transformation. Once she was out of the hospital, she had to wear heavy metal and leather braces. But she was so anxious to obey the command to be baptized that she wouldn’t wait until she was free of the braces. So she went to church, answered the invitation, made a confession of faith, and two men carried her into the baptistery on a metal folding chair and baptized her into Christ. Not long after that, my grandparents sold their bar, and my grandmother became the secretary at Osage Hills. She spent the next sixteen years of her life in that position until she was diagnosed with breast cancer. One weekend they had a special service where the people were asked to bring or wear a pair of shoes that had a significant meaning for their spiritual life (I know this because the preacher told this story at my grandmother’s funeral). My grandmother brought those leg braces. I can still remember, as a boy, seeing them hanging on a nail in her garage. I’m sure that every time she looked at them she was reminded ofhow God stepped in and re-wrote the story of her life.
But God didn’t just re-write the story of my grandmother’s life that day in that hospital room…that Sunday in that baptistery. He re-wrote the story of my mother’s life and my uncle’s life. He re-wrote the story of all of their children’s life, including me. And he re-wrote the story of my children’s lives. And the story goes on and on and on.
That’s one of the things that makes this What’s Your Story campaign so special, and one of the reasons why it’s important for all of us to take the time to recognize and tell our story. My life has not been perfect. I’ve made and make a lot of mistakes. But because of the faithfulness of ordinary men who were making a hospital call on a woman they had never met, my story is covered by grace. And if I were ever asked to wear or bring a pair of shoes that had a significant meaning for my spiritual life, I’d have to find those braces.
What’s your story?