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It Is Never Too Late

I grew up having no religion, no real exposure to church and hearing about believers being “Bible Thumpers” and “Born Again Nuts”. Christians were illogical sheep, following after false hopes and beliefs, and they tried to force these beliefs on logical non-believers. My father is an atheist and a scientist. God cannot be analytically explained so therefore does not exist. I would ask about Heaven. It did not exist. The Bible was a compilation of made up stories. I always wanted to believe. I thought that if I could understand it all someday, I could maybe believe. I asked my father if he wasn’t scared to be in Hell. He said if you don’t believe in it, there is no Hell. You just cease to exist, your body decays and that’s the end of existence. Period.

When I got into college, I figured my father must be right because he’s a very intelligent, highly respected man. I never gave another thought to religion or God or Jesus. I went about my days not knowing about the power of prayer. I had a series of life-altering events, but it never occurred to me to pray because I was completely ignorant.

Then I married an Army soldier. He believes in God, which I found interesting. Little did I know how much I would need God in the coming years. 9/11 happened and my husband wanted to be sent anywhere he could be deployed in the Middle East. The double deployments to Iraq were brutal. I attended memorial services of and/or knew 54 soldiers killed in action in those 2 years. I was mired in a world of being terrified of someone knocking on the door while raising a newborn and a toddler in a foreign country (Germany), with a husband who was fighting on the front lines and cheating death by bullets and IEDs on a daily basis.

The news was filled with the stories of soldiers being killed in Iraq. It became my daily routine to monitor the American news and CENTCOM reports, trying to find the province the soldiers were killed in to attempt to determine if my husband was one of the fatalities. Then I would wait for the knock at the door.  Our dear friend Chris Kiernan was KIA by a sniper in Ameriyah and I just knew my husband would fall, as well.  After a year of this last deployment in 2007, I was finally at wit’s end. Tired of crying myself to sleep, tired of crying babies, tired of the stress and fear, I literally cried out to God. Something along the lines of “God! I don’t even know if you exist but if you do, can you bring my husband home to me alive?” I began bargaining, begging, pleading and then finally praying to this unknown God to bring my husband home alive, even without limbs, anything, just alive. My husband’s Humvee driver had both his legs blown off. My prayers became more fervent, desperate. I told God that if he brought him home I’d seek Him out and try to “learn this religion stuff”. It would be “proof” that He was real. How little I knew!

My husband was delivered safely to me, after 13 months, 6 IED strikes and one bullet later. So I bought a Bible. I took it home and opened it up to page 1, instantly becoming overwhelmed and doubtful. I put it back on the shelf.  Over the years I’d pick it up occasionally and try again, but I couldn’t understand it, found it hard to read, and felt like a failure to “this God” to whom I made a promise. I was confused and overwhelmed and the Devil himself was likely smiling.

During this same time period, we had known Kirk & Shelly Wooldridge through football and school. We began having driveway conversations about God, nothing intimidating or pushy, just honest answers. Then one day their son Kie invited my son Justin to VBS. Justin went with Kie and came home with questions. I tried to “Google” the answers but gave up. It was time to go to church and read the Bible. I made the decision to attend FBCRR.  The Wooldridge family literally held our hands as we answered the call for Salvation and were baptized in the coming months. In fact, we were all baptized by Kirk, who was serving as Interim Pastor at the time. It was the most exquisitely amazing day, Valentine’s Day 2016. FBCRR is our first church family.  Pastors Jared and Kirk are my first pastors in my 45 years plus.

After I had made the decision to attend church, I picked up my Bible and dusted it off. Wouldn’t you know it? It was like I suddenly had “glasses of understanding,” like a veil was lifted. I wasn’t overwhelmed.  It made sense- and it was (and is) the most amazing Book ever. Praying has become an integral part of my life. Prayer after prayer has been answered. I am seeking, learning. My children and I attend Bible Study.  It is all still so new to us after these few short years, but our family is an example of “It’s never too late.” I had mistakenly assumed that I couldn’t know God because I never had. I couldn’t be baptized because I had “missed my chance.”  I couldn’t be saved and what did that mean, anyway?

 I am so thankful every day that now “this God” that I once spoke of is now “My God” and has always been our God. He is our most merciful, amazing Lord. Even though I didn’t know Him, He knew me and was with me for all those years. It is truly never too late.     

Kim G. - July 2018