The dawning of the victory for me came when I was four years old. I attended church every Sunday in my puffy dress with shining black shoes complete with white lace socks. I loved singing happy songs about Jesus and felt loved and secure in the church I attended with my family. But the day I recall with clarity was the day a man named Joe Talley came to our church to play songs on his saw! I sat right in front because I didn’t want anything to block my view. Mr. Talley held a hand saw propped between his knees and would bend it to make different notes as he ran a violin bow over the edge. It made a sound similar to a stringed instrument but it was fascinating to me because I had only seen my dad use a saw for wood. As he played and talked, my heart was captivated. He concluded his performance by saying, “If I can make music like this with just a saw and bow, what could the Lord Jesus do with you if you give your heart to him?” My hand shot into the air when he asked if we wanted to know more about Jesus. I knew in that moment that whatever Jesus could do with me, I wanted it to be that wonderful! It wasn’t long after that I became very ill and for the next five years fought my way back from a muscular disease that was very painful. I had to go and stay with my grandparents after my hospital visits so that they could help with my physical therapy. It was during that time that my grandfather began to abuse me whenever he had a chance. I love getting older and looking back with awe. I can look back now on the devastation and see that while I was being broken, I was being healed.
The decision to trust Jesus was the beginning of a new way of looking at trials. Because I believe His word, and that He loves me, I can recall the vile acts committed against my will and know that Jesus was there. His word says He will never leave us or forsake us. I know it broke His heart. The Lord of the universe sees, and feels deeply over the things we suffer. One day going off by Himself, He climbed a hill overlooking Jerusalem, knowing His own people had rejected Him, and wept. The Bible says in John 11:35 that Jesus, in His sorrow and compassion over the loss of His friend Lazarus, wept. Jesus wept. I believe He wept repeatedly for my grandfather, who could not trust Jesus to help him control his sexual sin. I believe He wept over me. Sexual abuse is a huge burden for little four-year-old shoulders to carry in secrecy.
I wonder how many people have stories like this. Their hearts or lives have been broken by loss, pain, abuse, or suffering, but by trusting Jesus to make something beautiful out of it their eyes sparkle and shine with the light of life! Although there has been tremendous hurt, their lives reflect peace. I know many of these people I’m talking about. Some are friends who have lost children in tragic ways, some are struck down with physical problems, yet their lives reflect the heart of an overcomer just like the ones we see crossing the finish line like a true champion.
As Easter morning dawns, the victory is won, He is risen! He has said, “I have overcome the world.” Then in His mercy he teaches us through His word how to overcome our sin and shame. But He doesn’t stop there. He will be there at the finish line with a crown welcoming His champions home as our race comes to an end! I give Him high praise for the new day that dawned for me when I was only four years old. It has made all the difference in my race.