Sunday Hugs

Sunday Hugs

Author: Celeste Davis
May 06, 2022

SUNDAY HUGS*

Growing up, as a child I just loved Sundays!  Our family would get up early and go to church to worship God and hear the Preaching of the Gospel.

I was born in New York City where we stayed with my mother’s family while my father served in the military. I was just a few months old when my father was honorably discharged, and we moved to Florida where my sister and brother were born. Five years later we moved to Texas.

My first memories were of Brother Monroe, a big imposing figure of a man in his cowboy hat and boots. He always wore khaki-colored shirts and pants. It was wonderful to sit in the church pew and to look up and wonder.  I say look up because our church had very high ceilings with enormous banners hanging high overhead in the two-story auditorium. The banners had beautifully printed Bible verses on them like Matthew 24:35; “Heaven and earth shall pass away but My words shall not pass away.” And wonder because of the magnitude of those words in a small child’s mind.  I didn’t understand them, but they caused my heart to “be still” and be at “Peace”.

Other verses hung majestically across the great auditorium like John 14:2. “In my father’s House are many mansions: if it were not so I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.”

I would just sit there before church ever started, looking up, and think about those wonderful words of life hanging in the air while people found the way to their seats. I accepted Christ as my Lord and Saviour and was Baptized symbolizing that I was buried with Christ (the old me) and raised up out of the water as a new creation, (my inner man, the real me).  ‘Born Again’ into a new spiritual life that meant I would live forever with Jesus Christ for eternity when my earth suit (my natural body) passed away. We are all going to live forever somewhere.  It’s only in your earth suit that you can choose where you will spend eternity. I completely understood that physical death is not the end.

After church, my dad would take us out to lunch. He was ahead of his time in doing so, for I do not remember many children in the nice restaurants during those years. We were taught good manners, and this was a reward.  My brother and sister and I felt very special that our parents would treat us to a grown-up thing like going to a restaurant and choosing our own meal and then to be served by someone other than our mother.

Mother always looked so pretty. She loved her family and gave her life and the Joy of the Lord to us as a legacy. She was tiny, less than five feet tall and wore a size four and a half shoe. We would sneak into her closet and try them on, but I think I was five or six when I realized I couldn’t play in her shoes anymore; horrified, my feet were too big!  I remember her as always being dressed up because she was a secretary and worked in an office during the week.  Rarely did we see her in casual dress except for Saturdays when she worked in the garden planting something while Daddy watered the lawn.  She had the original green thumb!  My mother and father loved Roses and we always had Rose bushes planted around every house we lived in.

I remember Mother and Daddy never threw away coffee grounds.  My father said they were “good for the Roses”. We children couldn’t wait for them to finish their morning coffee. We always had the job on the weekend to place the morning coffee grounds very carefully under the Rose bushes. Then, we were taught to slowly water the base so that the grounds would gently mix with the earth.

Daddy could do anything! He was a mechanic by trade, but he designed and built nearly all the furniture in our home. He built coffee and side tables, bookcases and headboards, anything we needed. He was an Inventor and was always coming up with an idea for new things. One of his inventions were window screens for cars since at that time in history there was no air conditioning and going out in our summers always meant mosquitoes!

The most important memories of my growing up took place between the ages of nine and seventeen as we moved and attended a small church in our neighborhood. It was there that I was a member of a group called Girls Auxiliary and we met every Wednesday night while the adults were in prayer meeting. From that point on, the focus of my life was to complete the “steps” to become ‘Queen with a Scepter’.  There were a lot of steps to pass before I could get to this rank. The only way to reach the goal was to memorize scripture; Chapters of it and to work on Mission Projects. I loved every minute of both requirements, but the memory work was hard. I would read and memorize the Bible verses I was assigned, repeatedly, until I could recite them without thinking. These steps took years to pass the examinations and to work up to my goal.

We could also choose among the projects to work on, and I always chose the ones which concerned far away places.  I learned to cook dishes from other lands and to read about what the people were like. I reached my goal at sixteen and during the Recognition Coronation Service at my church, I quoted the entire chapter of 1st Corinthians 13, called “The Love Chapter” in the Bible. ’Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not charity (love), I am as a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.” I received my Crown and the important Scepter that signified the power and authority of the Christian grounded in the Word of God.

I’m sharing this particular time frame during my early years because later, the Holy Spirit would use what was stored up in my heart, to teach me, even though at the time I didn’t understand fully what I was learning.
Many people feel that children should be left alone to choose later in life when they are older, what to believe about God and Jesus Christ, or even whether to believe at all. The hardest thing to watch is a child that is not being taught about God or the promises of Scripture.  The Bible teaches us how to live on this planet and especially regarding Salvation and the afterlife. The fact is children are learning and coming to conclusions all along life’s way. It can be positive, negative, or indifferent but everyone is taking in information all the time, consciously or unconsciously.  The Word of God tells parents to’ Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.’ Proverbs 22:6

I was just like the Rose bushes my parents tended around our home. God’s Words were the coffee grounds, the extra needed vitamins in my life, to shape me to grow strong and produce beauty for others to see the goodness and glory of God. I know from my own life that had I not been taught the scriptures early in life and to have faith in Christ as my Saviour, I would not have had the strength to survive the trials of life that I later faced. Yes, trials came, because we live in a fallen, sinful world, but with the extra vitamins of God’s word and His presence in our life, we are not alone.

We were taken to church and purposely taught to love God.  It wasn’t hard to love after hearing and participating in the wonderful songs of worship and Praise.  This opened our hearts to receive the encouraging Word of God.

In the ninth grade I began to work part time after school Downtown. It was my own idea. I guess to some extent because I was the first child, I enjoyed being responsible and not depending on my folks for extra finances which they did not have.  I guess, because of this, I grew up faster in the business environment and learned to relate to other adults at work.

My parents were very strict about following up on good culture and sent me to a Finishing School from twelve to seventeen. This school emphasized good manners, good grooming, and social etiquette.  Anytime there was a pageant in town, girls were encouraged to enter because it meant funds for college. I was in a succession of these pageants, and I learned to compete in a world where the external was the first attribute emphasized; how to present yourself well.  I was usually a finalist or a runner up. I was beginning to learn that the world has a different definition of success and came face to face somewhat with the tension between the World and a Christian worldview.

I was accepted into college on a partial scholarship and was invited to go thru Sorority Rush. This meant potentially being asked to join a group of young women committed to the Greek system of sisterhood for life. It would open doors and could mean a lifetime opportunity socially and in business. I was totally green. I had no idea what was going on except that I wanted to belong and to do good works. I followed.

This commitment culminated months later in the semester.  One evening, my pledge class was asked to do something so disturbing to me, that I refused to participate. My Rush class and I were told to unconditionally obey or lose the invitation to belong. I walked away. This was my reality check with the true battle for everyone in the world. Evil and darkness can be disguised. What seemed like a normal, and in the natural world, a good thing to follow, was really a choice of who will you allow to be your master? Who will you allow to influence your decisions?

There were many lives at stake. Young people, men and women unwittingly followed what seemed good. This wasn’t the only trap the enemy set for me in my life and I fell into many temptations and flat-out mistakes along the way in my walk with God.

John 8:12 tells us …’Then spake Jesus again unto them saying, I am the light of the World: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.’

We are the product of the choices we make along the way in our life. If you’re not dead, you still have time to repent and thank God that He can lead us out of the darkness and into the light if we will but do it. I love what Jesus said in 1st John 1:9.’ If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’

He is there to forgive for as long as we live. Keep short accounts with God.

Humble ourselves and Repent. His Word contains the answers to all our questions and the way out of darkness. It may be an instant response like my college experience when approached with a bad situation or it may take us years to figure things out.  Thank God He is always with us to be there, waiting for us to turn to Him. Our part is to believe His Word by faith in whatever situation we are in and to follow Him. ‘There is a way which seems right to a man, but the end thereof is death.’  Proverbs 14:12

God ‘s plan for all of us is that if we will invite him into our heart and life, by faith, and mean it with all our heart, ‘none should perish’, John 3:16-17. The world was condemned already. Jesus was sent to be the fulfillment, to make The Way, for mankind, by His precious Blood, but we must accept that wonderful gift.  We are forgiven thru His Blood not ours.  He is the sacrifice, the perfect Lamb of God, which the Old Testament portrays in the sacrificial system.  That was the forerunner, the payment for OUR sin, not His. That is how God can pardon us as Jesus took our sin upon HIMSELF.

Jesus is your Best Friend!

(SUNDAY HUGS was First published in a collection of Short Stories with other Christian authors, c.2018)

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