Thursday, January 28, 2010

Oh Happy Day!


It was a cold, rainy night in November. I had been waiting awhile in the dimly lit restaurant. She was running late. We had not met before, but I knew it when she walked in. Dressed in black from head to toe, her rain slickened hair was tightly secured in a pony tail. Wide, bright eyes framed with dark lashes lit her face and her smile warmed the room. After an embrace of salutation, she sat next to me at the table. We ordered our food, but both of us ended up only taking a few obligatory bites. We spent the next three hours talking about faith in Christ.

I had been told she was a seeker, but it was pretty clear to me that night that she'd already been found. She spoke of her faith in Jesus. Her faith. She already owned it. She was shy about calling herself a Christian, like maybe she wasn't worthy of such a title. I told her that God wants us to be assured of our salvation. It is by grace through faith that we are saved....not of ourselves. If she has faith in Jesus, I told her, then God gave it to her and He's not going to take that away. I asked her if she knew the moment she realized the Truth, the moment her faith in Christ was born. She wasn't sure. I told her she could pray to ask Jesus to come into her life, forgive her of her sins and help her to follow Him for the rest of her life. I explained how this would become her 'stake in the ground'. When troubles and doubts assail her in the future, as they do all believers, she would have that moment to point back to... the moment she claimed her faith.

The next day, November 21, 2009, she prayed to accept Jesus. She put her stake in the ground. Growing up mainly in the Pacific Northwest, born to loving, but non-believing parents there is no worldly explanation why this girl came to faith in Christ. She was 19 years old, living in America, and had never heard the gospel. The first real contact she had with scripture was during a Literature class in school. She told me how she was stunned by the scriptures that were read in that class. She knew she wanted to investigate the Christian faith more, but she knew no Christians. She had questions but no one to ask. Not until she met Caleb.

Caleb is a guitarist at our church back in North Carolina. He is an incredibly gifted musician who keeps mostly to himself, a sort of dark and brooding, artsy type of guy that always wears black T-shirts and jeans like Simon Cowell. I often take liberties with people that I probably ought not to. Caleb was no exception. On Sunday mornings, when he would walk past me on the way to his guitar, I would greet him with, “Good morning Sunshine!”, just loud enough for him to hear. Usually there was no response other than the occasional sideways steely glance and a jerk of his head that would fan his shoulder length hair away from his face. I thought it was funny. I always wondered what type of girl he'd end up with.

Lauren met Caleb in some sort of cartooning forum online. After learning he was a believer, Lauren started asking lots of questions. Over many months Caleb shared the gospel truth with her. I don't know the details of all that transpired between Lauren and Caleb over that time. I only know that by the time I met her (at the request of my friend Jodie, Caleb's mom, who doesn't believe in coincidence), the seed had been planted and thoroughly watered. God had done His work and then let me watch the culmination of it. It was like walking into a casino and finding $1 on the floor and putting that $1 in the slot machine, pulling the lever and having the whole jackpot fall into your lap! What are the odds?

She's like a sponge, wanting to soak up all the life in Christ she can. “I have so much to learn, I can't wait to learn it”, she once told me. I had the privilege of walking beside Lauren through her first days of being a Christian. We experienced quite a bit together in a short amount of time. There were joyful, happy days and there were some really tough times too. And that's life.

She's full of hope and love. She's beautiful, artistic and smart. She can create 3D art, draw with charcoal, build computers, crack HTML code, play piano and take amazing photographs. Somehow, she makes the color black look cheerful!

There's a saying, “you cannot stay and go with God”. It's really true. 'Going' means different things for different people. For Lauren, it meant literally going someplace new and far. Our heroine's story continues now in the great state of North Carolina. There will be times of peace and smooth sailing. There will be rough, rocky patches too. The Body of Christ has received her. As she links arms with other sons and daughters of the King, she will learn to daily trust the One who bought her freedom with His blood.

She's born again, a new creation, a heart of stone turned to flesh, once dead in sin now alive in Christ. All by grace. The angels rejoice!

Can you sing with her?

Oh happy day, happy day
You washed my sin away.
Oh happy day, happy day
I'll never be the same. Forever I am changed.“

LYMYWY (Love you, Miss you, Want you),



  1. Dear, dear Lauren,

    We haven't met. I'm Greg's sister, I'm Kara's sister-in-love, I'm Samuel and Sarah Grace's proud Aunt Kayla, I'm the blessed wife of Jason Paulk, and, most importantly of all, I'm Jesus' daughter, saved by His grace. That makes me your sister in Christ, and that means that, even if we never meet this side of Heaven, I will meet you one day in the presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. What a glorious day that will be!

    I rejoice with the angels that you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and that you are a new creation in Him. Jason and I have prayed fervently for your salvation, rejoiced here in New Mexico when we learned that you had indeed invited Jesus into your heart, and we continue to pray for you as you learn to walk in faith and lean not on your own understanding, growing in grace and love each day. We covenant to pray for you often (for your Christian walk, that you find new friends in NC, and that you find the path the Lord has for your future), and we also covenant to continue praying for your family. We just had dinner with friends tonight and our evening together ended in a circle of prayer, with everyone rejoicing in your salvation, and praying for you and your family. The Davises (the family with whom we prayed) remember you in their prayers, as does our church choir, who prayed for you and your family last night and will continue to do so.

    You are greatly prayed for and loved by so many, and you are loved infinitely more by your heavenly Father.

    In Christ's love,

    Kayla Paulk

  2. Lauren,
    I cried as Greg told your story on Sunday and I'm crying again as I have read Kara's story about you. Your desire for Christ and all that you've been through to get where you are is so incredibly wonderful for you to be able to share this with so many people and touch so many lives! I met you Sunday morning (I'm sing with the praise team, so I saw you at our practice as well) and I can't wait to get to know you better and see your walk with Christ continue to grow. It is also so amazing to see how this has changed Caleb. God has done wonderful things in your life and will do so many more wonderful things and it is so exciting for me!!! I look forward to seeing you again at church!!

    Love in Christ,
    Jan Thomas

  3. Dear Lauren, I am a friend of Kara's and am so excited to hear of your New Birth in Christ! What an exciting journey you have ahead of you as you learn about God and His amazing love for you. I remember when I "came back" to Christ and how wonderful that time was, and is, with my Bridegroom, my Savior. There's no pleasure on this earth that compares with knowing Christ and making Him known to others! At this moment you stand blameless before Him, all your sins washed away, and already living eternally. May God bless you as you live each day drawing closer to your Heavenly Father and sharing Him with others!

    In His Grace,
    Kim Mears

  4. Dear Lauren,

    Words can not express the joy I feel knowing that I have a new sister in Christ. It has been a privilege meeting you and sharing a few short moments with you at our home group meeting and at Mt. Park Church. I pray that your faith will grow strong and that some day you will be be able to share the Good News with others as well. Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and courageous and do not be terrified. For the Lord God is with you whereever you go."

    Love and prayers,

    Christina Bell

  5. Hi Lauren,
    I praise God for you! It's been amazing to see God at work the last couple of weeks. God has made you a very special lady and I know He has an incredible plan for your life. We'll be praying for you as you start that new life in Christ.
    You are loved,
    Lynne Dee

  6. Lauren:

    I miss your beautiful smile and warm presence at church already! Isn't God amazing! Who would have thought that just a couple of weeks ago as we shared a meal in our home in the midst of the heartache you were experiencing that the Lord would lead you to this amazing place where you could be surrounded by other sisters and brothers in Christ? Such a reminder of simply placing our requests before our Maker and not trying to give him a multiple choice prayer request of the options we (in our finite minds) think are available. His ways are so much greater and beneficial than ours. I am so pleased to hear how you have obeyed Jesus in the midst of such persecution and I pray that the persecution has only strengthened your faith in Him. I will continue to lift you up,my sister, as well as your loved ones. I am so excited to see how Christ is going to use your life to impact others.

    As you take yet another step of obedience to Him today in baptism I pray His richest blessings on your life Lauren.

    Please know that your story of faith has impacted us ( I just finished reading Kara's reflections to my 9 year old Kylene) and that you will be prayed for.


  7. Dear Lauren,
    I am Kara's mother,(an identity that I cherish),and after reading and hearing about you through her, I almost feel like I know you, even though we have never met. I know how grateful Kara and Greg are for having had the chance to get to know you, and walk with you through part of your spiritual journey. I pray that the faith you have found will be a source of strength to you throughout your life.
    The gift of eternal life was wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger on a night many years ago in Bethlehem; And when Jesus knocked on the door of your heart and you responded by letting Him in, you were given that wonderful gift, which can never be taken away from you as long as you believe in Him.
    I will leave you with one of my favorite Bible passages, from Romans 8:38-39. It reads as follows:
    'For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in
    Christ Jesus our Lord.'

    May God bless you always.
    Love and Prayers,
    Sally Eshelman

  8. Hi Lauren,
    You are so blessed to have Kara and many sweet people around you. Above all, you are so blessed by God who made everything possible and beautiful. I pray your dear parents open their heart to Jesus and receive Him as their saviour like you. I think and believe it is on the way, maybe just around the corner.