When my wife, Debbie, was just seven years old, she sat in a children’s church service in our Medford, Oregon, church. During that service God spoke to her heart through the songs, testimonies, and sermon. Upon realizing His love for her, she gave Him her life, and still looks back to that moment as the one where she was saved. She tells how she never really wanted anything different.
Growing up through her teens, most of her relatives on both sides of her family served God, along with both sets of grandparents. She took note of the adults around her who chose a different path, and the contrast did not escape her. Serving the Lord was the path she found appealing.
What she did not realize as a child was that each adult she observed serving the Lord did so with a determination to take a stand when their faith was put to the test. When Ron Gaddis preached about the Hebrew children during our recent camp meeting, he made the point that taking a stand is required of all of us if we want to make Heaven. While he preached that sermon during a young adult service, that message applies to each of us.
In her late teens, Debbie was confronted with her own challenge when her closest friends chose not to serve God. Would she stand firm or would she follow them? It was not a difficult decision, though it was a trying experience. It occurred to her that if she “took a break” from serving the Lord, those observing her choice would not be aware of her intention to get saved again. Nor could she be certain that she could escape sin without permanently marring her life.
She had been deeply impressed by the examples of stability in her life, although these faithful people were unaware of the impact they were having. She chose to stand fast as they had; it did not make sense to her to do otherwise. She is so glad she did, and eventually those friends repented and were saved.
I am glad she did, too, because within four years of that time, I went into an Apostolic Faith church service in Dallas, Oregon, where she was attending and helping in Sunday school and the music. Little did we know that day that we would be married in the same church nearly two years later. That was forty years, two children, and seven grandchildren ago! The hallmark of Debbie’s life has continued to be her stability, consistency, and unassuming manner.
Taking a stand does not end with our youth. Over the years, challenges emerge and pressure is brought to bear to comprise what we stand for. By the grace of God, may we all be determined to continue to stand firm in our faith.