Bat Woman Saved
A bat flapping in a tree, that’s what I was before I asked Jesus into my life. Blinded by the enemy of self, immature and myopic, a mother of two under four, my husband deployed for months at a time, I was exhausted, lonely, and disillusioned. Family life on “Father Knows Best” had never given me a hint of life behind the scenes. I’d dreamed of being like Margaret Anderson with fresh lipstick and my apron on when Jim came in smiling for dinner. Instead, I found myself in the midst of wailing babies, messy dogs, and bell-bottoms that were too snug.
I’d wanted a happy family, picnics, strolls in the park, bike rides, flowers under the window, a cocker spaniel, and my husband home at five, preferably smiling. God would provide protection if needed, though it never occurred to me He’d be close enough for a relationship. I’d hoped He could handle my greatest fears – death, storms, and my babysitter cancelling on me.
When my girlfriend invited me to Bible Study at her church, I was reluctant to accept, until she added, “free childcare.” The following Wednesday with blankies, pacifiers, and bottles in tow, my little ones and I were ready to go. This is how Jesus first cracked open the door to my heart and shed a glimmer of light on my bat wings.
I felt like a nocturnal beast in a sunny field of flowers in the Fellowship Hall. All those lovely women with long curly hair, welcoming embraces and quilt-covered bibles gave me the jitters. They didn’t know about my bad habits or how I’d yelled at my kids. The only Bible I owned was a tabletop Readers Digest King James, which was on the closet shelf so it wouldn’t be used as a coloring book.
I continued to attend the Bible Study, however, and not just because the childcare was free. I was being taught about the love of Jesus, and I saw how peaceful it looked on the faces of the women who greeted me every week. Theirs was a “beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.” (1Peter 3:4)
Their joy was real even though, like me, many of them were mothers of small children, who managed homes with laundry and pets, and had husbands away on deployments or who worked late into the night. Beside their friendships with each other and the Bibles they carried like purses, the ladies appeared to have something stronger on their side, like a hovering bodyguard. You just wouldn’t want to cop an attitude with any of them. I watched, listened, and learned.
Even the ladies who didn’t know me made me feel welcome. Sometimes they appeared thankful when I arrived, and gave me an extra wide smile and pat on the shoulder. I began to relax during the weekly discussions and listen to the prayers they shared.
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29)
I struggled with my identity in God’s creation and could not perceive evidence of grace like theirs in my life, only faults and temper tantrums. Like Zacchaeus the tax collector, I felt hated and despised. How could God ever love me?
When I was brave enough to admit my fear and bold enough to ask for prayer, my new friends beseeched God on my behalf, not about my character flaws, but about my real need. Little did I know at that time, they were acting through the Holy Spirit as Jesus had with the blind man and tax collector in Jericho. I needed salvation.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John3:16)
“Jesus died for my sins.” I heard this over and over again, but could not connect with it. If He’d died for me, what did He want me to do for Him? Stop yelling? Quit smoking? Go to Africa? What if I couldn’t be good enough? Would I be asked politely to stop attending Bible Study?
The faith I had was just not working.
Finally, I knelt by my bed, as I’d seen the kids do on “Little Prairie”, and, like the blind man, I begged for mercy, quietly so I wouldn’t wake the children.
“Our Father Who art in heaven”, was all I knew, and I felt I needed to start out formal. “Please will you help me?”
“Jesus, I give everything to You – my children, my husband, my dogs, my thighs, and all my fears. If You’ll have me, I give You my life and You can be Lord of my heart. No surprise to You, but I am a sinner, and I am asking for forgiveness. Amen.” My prayer was rudimentary.
I confess I’d expected something magical to occur – a rainbow in the night sky, a phone call from my husband at sea, the Cat in the Hat to clean my house. Nothing happened. I got up from my knees and climbed into bed where I slept soundly until morning. The days continued to tumble along, my husband sailed in and out of town, the girls were fussy, the dogs messy, my temper flared occasionally, and the Cat never showed up. But there seemed to be an invisible bodyguard at every turn and the peace I felt was unmistakable. Praying became a conversation between Jesus and me as I relinquished my fears. My Bible study developed into daily lessons, the girls and I attended church, and I prayed that one day our family would worship together. I wanted Jesus in our home.
I didn’t realize it then, but Jesus had heard my prayer LOUD AND CLEAR. He’d stopped in His tracks as if Bartimaeus the blind man was crying again for the Son of David; and, turning the universe to get to the Book of Life, He called my name and wrote it down.
“Today salvation has come to this house…” (Luke 19:9)
Thanks to the faith, love, and prayers of those who went to the women’s Bible Study for Jesus not childcare, I am no longer a baleful bat. Forty years later, I am loved by the Son of God. Our home is full of Jesus, gloriously alive in my husband, our children, grandchildren, family and friends!
“And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.” (Luke 18:43)