After taking me to church three times a week for a year, Mrs. Henderson asked me the big question. She said, “Jim, have you confessed your sins to Jesus and asked him for forgiveness? I heard this question every Sunday at Calvary Baptist Church, but it didn’t sink in. She told me that salvation is like a train and I am at the train station. If you don’t get on the train it will begin to pull away from the station, but you can still get on. As this train begins to leave the station it will get smaller and smaller until it finally disappears, and then you will forget all about that train. She then asked me if I knew what I needed to do, and I told her “yes.”
I walked across the street to my house and went to my bedroom, and after getting into my bunk bed, I began to pray a prayer of confession. I confessed every sin I could think of and realized it was my fault that Christ was crucified on a cross for my sins.
I began to cry and pretty much cried myself to sleep that night, and believed that Jesus heard my prayer. I must have been forgiven that night because when I woke up the next morning, I felt great.
Everything felt different, seemed different, and I no longer feared death, or much of anything that I can remember. I was a different person. When I would read my Bible it was like a little man was behind the page shining a bright light on each word as I read it. These words were lit up and lifted off the page as I read them. Each word made perfect sense, and the words came at me like BOOM, BOOM, BOOM!!!
Things that I didn’t understand and really didn’t interest me before now made perfect sense. I found the book of John to be most powerful and filled with promise and hope. Everything from the past was now crystal clear, and it was about the same time that I met Carol.
We had been school mates for years but were in different classes. She moved in different circles than I did, and I didn’t even know her name. It was at the last 8th grade dance that I really noticed her. She was crying and sitting in the bleachers with her girlfriends. She cried for some time, I can’t say how long, just too long for me to do nothing. I left my group of friends and stood in front of her and her friends, and asked her if I could help her.
Her one-word response took me by complete surprise. “No!” She left me dazed and confused as she just sat there with her friends, just staring at me. I said “Okay,” as I sheepishly turned away feeling lost and out of my own element. As I walked back to my friends and away from her, I felt smaller and smaller with each step, until I was finally out of her sight.
I kept my eye on her until the dance was over. I wondered why she cried and what must be wrong. And it was this wondering that became a bit of an obsession. That summer between 8th and 9th grades, that girl’s face became etched into my brain. I didn’t know her name and I didn’t know her at all, but I began praying that I would find her once we were back in school.
For some unknown reason, I had to find her and had to find out her name, and who she was.
Once back in school I found we had several classes together and I fell in love with her, most likely, day one. She was so beautiful and so different from all the other girls. She moved cool and sweet like refreshing water on a hot day. Bubbly, sparkling and refreshing. It wasn’t very long before I was praying that I could find the courage to ask her to be my girl. This experience was very different from any other I’d had before, and I knew that I wanted to be around her until the end. She was the joy of my life in secret. I could not tell her how much I cared, because if she just wanted to be friends, I would be shattered.
So I decided to just be friends, and cultivate a relationship, because I was too scared of her rejection. If ever I got a clue that she liked me, too, I would have asked her to be my girlfriend. I simply had to know for sure before I would ever make a move. About the middle of the year I began praying that we might someday be married. The rest is history at this point.
And these two things I share with you because I believe they are connected. I found my God and my future wife at 13.
I was only 13 years old when my God, through Mrs. Henderson’s advice, actually found me. And I believe God urged me to ask a young lady at a dance if I could help her. By doing so, He began our relationship at the end of 8th grade. Fully 44 years ago.
I’m sorry to all if I sound “judgy” at times. Sorry to all if I sound full of myself. And most of all, sorry that I could not share properly all that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have done for me. But this is my story and it can’t be denied. The best decision I ever made was to get on the “love train.” If nothing else, my hope in writing this is that someone else may hear the call of the train whistle and get on board. It has made all the difference for me.
Thanks, Mrs. Henderson.
Jim Robidoux is father of four, lives and works in Manchester, and writes about life in The Life Section – specifically, his own, and how he sees the world through his Christian faith. He enjoys bicycling to work, urban gardening, and watching the Phillies at Billy’s. And he happens to be married to Manchester Ink Link editor Carol Robidoux. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.