in a hollywood church one Sunday evening not many years ago, my son, Tom, turned to me after the preacher concluded his sermon and said, "Mother, is everything all right between you and the Lord?" I well knew that the answer to such a soul-searching question was an unequivocal NO, yet in self pride I hastily explained that I had accepted Christ as my Saviour at the age of 10. "But, Mother," he urged, "You don't know Christ the way I do! If you did, you wouldn't be so restless, always searching for some new kind of religion to give you peace of mind."
I was blessed with the most wonderful gift in the world - a Christian Mother and Father, who told me about Jesus as soon as I was able to understand. They took me to Sunday school and church, not only when I was just a babe in arms in Italy , Texas , but also as I grew older after moving to Arkansas . There was a revival in Osceola when I was ten, and there I ac-cepted Christ as my personal Saviour. But you know there's a big difference between just accepting Him and turning over your heart and life to Him. I said, "Jesus, I love you and I believe you're the Son of God, but there are things that I want to do. I want to be a success in the business and entertainment world. I'll go to Sunday school and church occasionally, but I want things my way."
Not putting Him first in my life led to neglected Bible reading and prayer. Consequently, I strayed from His fold, eloping with my first sweetheart in my early teens, shattering every dream my Mother had for me. Though this was a failure, my son wasn't, for out of that union God blessed me with Tom, who proved to be a great anchor in the rough years which later enveloped me.
My Sunday school and church attendance in the years that followed was spasmodic, for I put my career first. At 28 I wound up in Hollywood under contract to a movie studio, the ambition of so many young girls. But my life was hectic and full of mis-takes, disillusionment, insecurity and wrong decisions which hurt others as well as myself. As I began to acquire some of the things which ordinarily should have made me happy, I was miserable, life holding only a disappointing shallowness.
These things flashed through my mind as my son sat beside me, tears in his eyes, as he tenderly pleaded, "Jesus is all you need!" Here I was, a movie star, married to a famous cowboy, step-mother to three lovely children, with practically any material luxuries I could desire within my grasp. I crumbled inside, and suddenly the falsity and emptiness of my existence loomed up before me. I knew why I had made such a mess of things; I had never surrendered my will to Christ.
My heart had been moved in a terrific way. I was at the fork in the road. Which path would I take - that of unconditional surrender to Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life, or would I turn again to the world and its glitter; the applause of man and all the superficial trimmings? I managed to make it home, but then the dam broke and in a flood of tears and self-reproach I saw how I had disappointed my fine Christian parents, I remembered the earnest concern of my boy, and the silent promise I made to God the night Roy and I married - to raise his three children in a truly Christian home.
I was like the Prodigal Son who went away from his father into a strange and far-away place and spent his substance on riotous living. I had to return to my Heavenly Father. I could hardly wait for the following Sunday to arrive, for I had called Tom and told him I would take my public stand for Christ on the next Lord's Day. As I walked down the church aisle and entered the prayer room, I made a full and uncondi-tional surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ. I asked His forgiveness, through the precious blood He shed on Calvary for the redemption of sinners like me. "Lord," I said, "Take my life, break it, twist it, bend it, but just USE it for Thy glory." I committed everything into His nail-pierced hands - my personal life, my loved ones, my career.
In place of a tempest-tossed soul and frustrated at-tempts to attain contentment, He filled my heart with a peace that can be described only in such words as are found in the Holy Bible: "The peace of God, which passeth all understanding" (Philippians 4:7). I walked out of that church with a song springing up in my heart and a brand new perspective on life. I was cer-tainly a "new creature" in Christ Jesus.
Two months later Roy accepted the Lord, and for almost a year I was indescribably happy. Then miracle of miracles, little Robin was on the way! We were so happy to think we would be welcoming another little Rogers into the family. But four days after her birth we learned the heart-breaking news that she was not normal, and little hope was held for her future. "Five years at the most," the Doctor said, "but because of her heart condition, expect her to go any time after six months."
I suffered in an excruciating Gethsemane , but my blessed Lord was constantly by my side during the two years of Robin's life. Rather than breaking me, it blessed my life, for God taught me lessons I had needed to learn - tolerance, patience, love, and understanding. When God took her home to be with Himself, I felt the security of His everlasting arms supporting me, and I considered it a blessed privilege that He would lovingly prune a crusty soul like mine. I came to understand His great love for us, for when I would yearn for the healing of my little Robin, I would think of how much greater was the grief of our Heavenly Father as He looked upon His only Son suffering the agony of Calvary's cross; He who was sinless, being made sin for us, that through His pov-erty we might be rich in His righteousness.
You know, the closest earthly thing to a woman's heart is her children, and our Master welded my heart to His forever through my two - Tom and Robin. Tom broke my wall of defense so Christ could get in, and then He sent little Robin to expose me to suffering so I could know Him better.
I am not ashamed to say I belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, for He bought me through His blood shed on that tree on Golgotha 's hill, and a willing slave I shall be forever. He is the Shepherd of my soul; my Lord and Master from here throughout eternity. I want to shout to the world that Jesus Christ is the one and only answer to any need you'll ever have. He alone can give joy in the midst of pain, and strangely enough sorrow in the midst of joy. He is LIFE IT-SELF! If you have not let Him come into your heart, I urge you to do so right now. If you are attuned with Him, He makes life truly worth living; "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unright-eousness" (1 John 1:9). "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should 'boast" (Ephesians 2:8).
- Dale Evans