Was It Worth It?

By Simon Bening (circa 1483/1484–1561) - München, StB, cod. lat. 23638, fol. 10v, Public Domain, Link

By Simon Bening (circa 1483/1484–1561) – München, StB, cod. lat. 23638, fol. 10v, Public Domain, Link

As a young girl growing up, I faithfully attended Sunday School at my church as often as I had a way to go. When I was about 11 years old, I was also able to attend a Vacation Bible School program that summer. A neighbor girl my age invited me to go with her. A few years later, I was invited to an AWANA Bible study group at the church of another girl my age who lived down the street. We attended there about a year or so.

An adult neighbor on the next street invited me to her family’s vacation cottage in the mountains a few hours away, to join with her daughter and other girls near our age for a weekend visit. We all roamed around together near the cabin with shared flashlights in the pitch darkness on the mountain. Then we went inside to roast marshmallows in the huge stone fireplace and we talked about the things of God, as much as young girls understand such things. Thinking back on these events brings back yet another memory of a young married couple who had no children yet. They each drove a car packed with young teen girls to an event hours away, just so we could have a chance to hear more about God.

The well-known “Chrysler Imperials” singing group came to make a presentation and perform some music at my school one evening when I was in Junior High. Don Grady of the My Three Sons TV show was one of the speakers. He told us how he had given his life to Christ and what it had meant to him. Then an invitation was made for all who wanted to be “saved,” like he had been.

Something inside me wanted to jump up and go forward as others started to do. But I held back, wondering, What does ‘saved’ mean? What are they talking about? I had never heard anyone use that word at any of the church groups I was part of. Since I had this question and others I could not answer, I held back from responding to their invitation that evening.

I met the man who was to become my husband a few years later, in the last year of Junior High. We married a year after we graduated from High School, and our son was born the year after that. Nine more years passed before I finally came to understand that God wanted to save me from sin, and I answered His invitation by giving up control of my life and giving it to Him quietly at home alone.

So much time has passed since then, that I can no longer remember the names of the majority of the people who taught me a little more about God each time. Most have passed from this life by now. None of them knew what happened to me in my personal encounter with God years later. They did not get to see the results of all their hard effort. A lot of them, maybe all of them, had jobs or demanding roles as housewives and mothers, and it was a hardship on them to take extra time to deal with a bunch of giggly little girls and teenagers in addition to all their other responsibilities. But (praise God!), they did it anyway. I will forever be grateful to all of them and to God for putting them in my life. I wish it was still possible for me to tell them so. I cannot now count just how many people planted seeds in my life so that I could learn more about God and having a personal relationship with Him.

There is no one person that I can say was the one who “got me saved.” It was a process, obviously over many years. Each one contributed a little more to my understanding in one way or another. Some did it by what they said, and some by what they did, in giving of themselves. Each one reassured me that there were some people who did care enough to go beyond their daily grind to reach out to a girl who didn’t seem to respond. Were their efforts in vain because I did not go forward at a meeting or in a church to give my life to Jesus where they could see me do it?

Is it worth it to plant these kinds of seeds in the life of someone else, when you don’t get to see any results? Is it worth it to do it over and over, not knowing if your efforts have had any effect at all? God thinks so, and so do I! Where would I be now if no one had bothered to tell a shy little girl that Jesus loves her? if no one had told her that there is a life beyond this one with Jesus in Heaven for all eternity? I am indebted to all who gave of themselves to help someone else they hardly knew. I am working on ‘repaying’ that debt by doing the same for others. Would I even be able to write this to you right now if these people had not bothered to tell me?

What about you? Are you reaching out to others to tell them about Jesus and what He did for them? Few of the people I mentioned had biblical training. Some could play a musical instrument; some couldn’t carry a tune. Some could only contribute driving skills. Some only made cupcakes. And some taught us the craft of making poodles out of blue plastic dry cleaning bags! It did not matter to me. I was glad just to be invited, and that someone arranged for me to get to the meeting. I did not know when I was so young what they were trying to do. But looking back, my heart overflows with gratitude for all these ordinary people who gave of themselves. Are you willing to keep planting seeds in young lives until they finally take root, whether you are there to see them grow and mature or not?

–Alana Pangburn

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