So, I promised to share my story about Sunday...
Well, my Pastor (Father in law) and his wife are out of town on vacation. So, Rick (who is our Assistant Pastor) will be filling in for him the next two weeks. I always get really nervous but excited when Rick has to run the entire service and preach, but he does so well. He really is a natural in front of people and God has given him the amazing gift of preaching.
So, Sunday was going great. I had been in prayer for Rick all morning and was asking God to bless the service. Rick preached a message on "The greatest Soldier who ever lived." It was so good and so educational! He made remembrance to all the men and women who have fought and sacrificed for our country. He talked about all the sacrifices they made.
He talked about how they gave up their "old address" to travel and make a new dwelling place somewhere else. They left the comfort of their homes and the company of their families to go out and fight.
He talked about how they gave up their "old apparel" to take and put on a special uniform as they fight for our country. They put away their everyday clothes and were robed in a uniform that honors our wonderful country.
They traded in their "old accomplishments" for new ones. They left their lives and accomplishments at home. They fought and paid the price for all the freedoms we enjoy today... They gave so much.
They stepped onto a harsh battlefield ready to fight fully knowing it could cost them everything, and they gave their lives for a great cause... The freedom we hold today is not free at all. It cost such a price.
But the freedoms we have in this life, are not the only freedoms that we should hold dear.
The freedom we have over hell and the grave cost more than we can pay... It cost Jesus His life. For there is no way to Heaven, but through Him.
As we honored those who gave their all and sacrificed for our freedom, we were reminded of the greatest soldier who ever lived. Jesus Christ.
Jesus left his Heavenly address and he put away his Heavenly apparel, to come to this earth with a purpose in mind. He sacrificed His own life for ours, fully knowing it would cost Him His life.
He so willingly gave His life, so we can have the opportunity to have the ultimate freedom. The freedom from Hell.
As he preached this message, I was so encouraged. So aware of just how much Jesus gave, His all. Praise God!
In closing, Rick said something that really spoke to me. He said "If Jesus was to walk into this Church right now and stand before you. Could He look at you and say that you have accepted him? Or would he look at you and say, No, they denied me."
After all He has done, how could anyone deny Him?
Many do and this is a sad, sad shame.
He didn't do all of this without a purpose, just like our braves soldiers today, He entered this battle for our lives with His whole heart. He wants you to go to Heaven, and you can.
After this amazing service, something so wonderful happened. A sweet girl around my age came forward and told Rick she wanted to be saved...
Rick asked me to show her and we went into the Preacher's office. Before we got started, I shared with her what a blessing it was for me to get to talk to her about these things.
I told her how since Maddie passed away, Heaven has become even more real to me and I get so thrilled knowing someone else is headed there. She told me that she had been following my story with Maddie and that I was an inspiration to her. It was a blessing.
So, I sat there that day and told her how to go to Heaven. How God loved her, but we are sinners and our sin has to be paid for, but that Jesus paid for this sin. I told her about how Jesus didn't just die but that He rose again. I asked her if she believed these things and she answered that she did. Then I told her that she simply had to "ask" Him to forgive her and save her... Guess what?
I couldn't hold back the tears as I told her that was the best decision she will make in this life, because it affects her eternity. She told me with tears in her eyes how much "better" she felt.
I knew what she meant. I remember as a 16 year old girl feeling that weight lifted from my shoulders. No more fear. No more doubt.
I couldn't help but smile knowing that Maddie Grace was a part of that celebration going on up in Heaven. Another soul was saved. Another name written in the book of life.
I can't wait to go there. I can't wait to see my Lord and Savior. I can't wait to hold my little girl again and kiss my sweet grandparents, and family who have gone on before me.
Until that day, I have made it my mission. Maddie had made it my mission, to tell everyone around me about Heaven, and how to go there.
Thank you Jesus for sacrificing your life for the ultimate freedom.
Heaven really is getting sweeter everyday.