I didn’t appreciate having to drive to Pinelake. At first, it was just a frustration.
When our daughter, Ashlea, was about nine, she became friends with a little girl named Laura. Laura and her family were members of Pinelake, and eventually Laura invited Ashlea to come to church with her on Wednesday nights. Ashlea was very excited, and Laura's mother was kind enough to pick Ashlea up on their way to church.
Unfortunately, her mom couldn’t bring her back home. So, I had to go get her. This worked out fine for Ashlea, but it was very inconvenient for me. I had to get back out at the end of a long work day and put Ashlea's little brother back in a carseat and drive to Pinelake and pick her up. I was working full-time in a tough situation, and by the end of the day, I was tired, frustrated and had a million other things I needed to get done. I didn't appreciate having to drop everything and drive to church!
One Wednesday night when I went to get Ashlea, she didn't come out to the car. After waiting, I got her brother out of the car and went inside to find her. She was in the hall on the floor crying, and her teacher was there beside her. The teacher was very excited about something. I thought to myself, “Oh, boy! What now? What has Ashlea gone and done?”
She was in the hall on the floor crying, and her teacher was there beside her.
Her teacher proceeded to tell me that Ashlea had gotten saved that night and that everyone was so happy and proud and excited for her and that we needed to talk about Ashlea getting baptized. I thought to myself, “Great! Here's something else for me to do, something else I need to be responsible for.”
I had no idea at that point in time what it meant for Ashlea to be “saved.” I just knew it meant one more thing for a busy mom to deal with. I did eventually schedule her baptism, and we went to watch. But I didn't really make a big deal out of it; to me it was just another day. As I mentioned before, I had no idea!
In the background of all this there were several other things happening that were drawing me to the Lord. My husband had been really pushing me to start attending Pinelake, but I didn't want to because I thought the people here would be so judgmental and mean.
I thought the people here would be so judgmental and mean.
Also, at the same time, a group of ladies where I worked all shared and read the same book. Well, since I was too cheap to ever buy the book, I just read whatever they wanted. One of those books got me thinking about spiritual things, and I spoke with one of my coworkers about it. We started talking about the Bible and salvation and how it was possible to know without a shadow of a doubt if you are going to heaven or going to hell.
I was completely amazed — I had no idea. Some time after that conversation, three of the girls I worked with all pitched in and bought me a Bible.
Eventually, my husband won, and we decided to visit Pinelake. I remember being completely amazed by the music and the sermon. In fact, I am willing to bet my jaw dropped for the entire service. We both absolutely loved it!
One Sunday, Chip said something about us needing to know what the Bible says and that we should all be reading it. That got me to thinking, especially because I never knew that regular people read a Bible. I thought it was a book for preachers and ministers and priests. I thought they were supposed to read the Bible, not us.
All of these things were going on in the background. All these things were drawing me closer and closer in.
Finally, one Sunday, the light bulb went off, and I knew what it meant to be saved. I knew I had to be saved by surrendering to Jesus. I walked down at the end of the service, and I was so excited!
I walked down at the end of the service, and I was so excited!
On the day I was baptized, one of the girls who had pitched in to buy my Bible came to the service to watch me get baptized. She said when I came up out of the water that I had the biggest smile on my face that she had ever seen.
It's so amazing to think how far I have come from being an angry, unsaved mom, who was frustrated about having to pick up my daughter from church, to being a Bible-believing, born-again child of the risen King. I am so amazingly thankful that God has drawn us all to Himself. What a miracle and priceless gift it is to know my family is all a part of God's family for all eternity.
— Joyce Nichols