In May of 1970, I graduated from college with a degree in Early Childhood Education. My best friend from college, Beverly, and I got teaching jobs in the same school, so we decided to share an apartment. Three months after our graduation, we moved from the homes where each of us grew up to began our new adventure.
From the time I was a small child, I had always been a part of a United Methodist church, so once Bev and I got unpacked and settled in our apartment, one of the first things I did was look for a Methodist church close to where I was living. I found a church nearby, and started attending the next Sunday. I enjoyed the preaching, and I began attending regularly. Over time, my new pastor and his family became dear friends.
Right after Labor Day, Bev and I began our first year as teachers, her teaching second grade and me kindergarten. I quickly decided that I loved teaching and enjoyed the precious children who had been entrusted to my care. Life was good, and the future looked promising.
Beverly and I both completed our first year of teaching, and we renewed our contracts for another year. We enjoyed summer vacation – three months of receiving paychecks and being free to do whatever we wanted with our time – and then it was time to meet our new students and start again. Between my job and my church, I was content.
I had no idea at the time, but things were about to change. Early in 1972, my pastor preached a sermon based on the novel In His Steps, by Charles Sheldon, which follows the lives of several people who decide to walk as Jesus walked. And he challenged anyone willing to join him in a commitment to ask “What would Jesus do?” whenever a decision needed to be made. My heart was really touched by the sermon, and I decided to take the challenge our pastor had given.
The very next evening, I had a chance to apply what I had learned. I had made plans with my roommate to go to a play, and we had already bought our tickets. Then my pastor called about a special meeting in a church about thirty miles away, and invited me to join his family for the service. I was facing a crossroads and needed to make a decision. I hated to disappoint my roommate, but I also wanted to honor the commitment I had made the day before. The more I prayed, the stronger I believed that I was to go with my pastor and his family to the service. So I apologized to Bev and agreed to accompany my pastor and his family to the special meeting. Looking back over four decades later, I know for certain that I made the right decision, for that night forever changed my life.
Two major milestones in my life began that evening. First, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. While I’d attended church from infancy, I had never made that decision, and don’t even remember being told that I needed to make that decision. So that important evening, I began my life-long walk under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
The guest speaker that evening, Dale Chapman, had recently started a Bible college in Oklahoma City. After he preached, he shared about the school. Almost immediately, I began feeling that God was calling me to attend this Bible college. This first major decision as a born-again Christian wasn’t easy, but the more I prayed, the more convinced I became that this was God’s will. So at the end of the school year, I submitted my resignation to the school board and started making plans to move to Oklahoma City.
That fall, I started Bible college, and soon afterwards met my future husband on an outreach that both of us were a part of. Within a few weeks, we began dating. And at the end of the year of Bible college, we were married in Oklahoma City. After our honeymoon, we moved to Houston and began our life as a married couple. The years since then have included many other defining moments, some joyful and some sorrowful, but none were more life-changing than this first one.
Thus, what started as a simple decision to attend a church service instead of a play turned out to be the biggest defining moment of my life. Mitch and I have now been married for almost forty-two years, and that time has been spent following God’s calling in our individual lives and for us as a couple. I can honestly say that I have no regrets for surrendering my life to the Lord Jesus Christ and doing what He was leading me to do on that l Monday night long ago.