LOVE. (‘Whosoever’- isn’t this a wonderful and hope-filled word?) Yet Easter didn’t always have a meaning of rescue and redemption for me.
The cliché of ‘getting out of the forest in order to see the trees’ is a useful figure of speech to describe my spiritual 20/20 hindsight. In my second part of life, I can look back and clearly see how Christ, in his ‘perfect for me’ way, was not only real and present in my life, but — also in his perfect timing and preparation — revealed his participation in my journey. It is ‘God’ to whom I prayed in childhood times of fear and worry. Jesus, the baby, had something to do with Christmas. Advent candles were lit as a countdown to Christmas. When I started sporadically attending a junior high youth group, via The Joy Bus, my mother gifted me a copy of The Living Bible. Then, because it seemed important to be married in a church, I chose the Methodist Church where my best friend had been married. Slowly, Jesus Christ was drawing me close to him through events and relationships.
After marriage, we moved to McMinnville, Oregon, where Jim attended Linfield College. Through a friendship at work, we were invited to attend the Church of Christ in the small neighboring town of Amity. It was there that I accepted Jesus as my personal savior and was baptized — immersion-style. (I was 6 months pregnant with our third child, Michael, and was worried — needlessly — that I wouldn’t go under because of the baby bubble. It gives me joy to say that Michael was baptized twice: first, in utero; second, in FPC.) My baptism became a milestone marker in my faith journey.
Prior to baptism, I had experienced coincidental “miracles” and subtle promptings which hinted of ‘a God thing.’ Those small events that one could either pay attention to or easily push aside. Yet, when I arose from my immersion, I literally heard the Lord speak out loud in my mind with what I call a teeter-totter message. First: “I am pleased by your obedience.” This was IMMEDIATELY followed by a seeming conviction to humility: “Understand this is not your doing, but Mine.” As my faith was in its infancy, my understanding was also simple and immature. Though I felt both the personal pleasure of my Lord, and then a directive to humility, there was something more of the truth that was just beyond my grasp. (Apparently, I needed to hear the humility directive as clearly as possible, as ‘pride’ is truly ‘the thorn in my side.’)
Now after three decades (almost as long as the Israelites wandered the desert) of living and learning in the middle of God’s crazy, amazing love, I realize why it is so overwhelming. It is the grace of God. God’s grace. God-almighty and God-all-vulnerable. While it may seem obvious, it is totally beyond simplistic in that it is given both individually and universally. It was personal and pointed in my conversion experience at baptism. I heard it as ‘I did this for you.’ Yet it is offered to ‘whosoever’ believes that Jesus, the Son of Man died, and rose again as Jesus Christ.
Certainly, Christ’s personal giving of grace is total joy on its own, but the importance of the personal is that it allows me to see the universal perspective. If God’s grace is for me, me with that ugly thorn of pridefulness, me who is also included in ‘whosoever,’ then it is only a single, grace-granted step to seeing that the Christ living in me lives everywhere. And this individual step toward the perspective of universal grace is where it gets exciting. This is where the work of kingdom-building can happen. This is where revival is activated. This is where Love1st becomes a beacon to those needing the message of this amazing grace. It is thrilling to be at First Presbyterian Church in this time of exploding grace.
The Christ in me greets the Christ in thee.
Peace, Yvette Wyatt
Our staff is voluntold each week and with grace they share their thoughts.