“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted…to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning…” (Isaiah 61:1, 3 NKJ)
It was a busy night with student assessments to grade, a meal to make for a sick friend, and household chores begging for attention. I was multitasking all these responsibilities while watching a television show that sheds light on the false doctrines of Mormonism. All of a sudden, every smoke alarm in the house began screaming. I looked up to find a few feet of black smoke covering the ceiling. That’s when I remembered I had oil heating in a skillet for dinner preparations. Racing into the kitchen, I discovered flames reaching into the hood above the stove and licking the connecting cupboards. Extinguishing the fire and flinging open doors and windows brought an end to the immediate danger and any further damage, but the alarms continued to shriek and adrenaline still coursed through my veins. Coughing from the smoke, I stepped outside for fresh air and to escape the noise. That’s when the rain began to fall…and so did my tears. “Really, God? Can you cut me some slack?” I muttered.
When my son, a former volunteer firefighter, heard about the kitchen fire, he asked me to send him pictures of the damage. Not wanting to document the evidence of my stupidity, I refused. A couple of days later, he and his wife stopped by unexpectedly to assess the damage and see what they could do to help. So as I held my newborn grandson and while my son kept an eye on the two toddlers, my sweet daughter-in-law began washing the smoke and ashes from the cupboards and walls. A neighbor dropped by with heavy duty cleaning supplies for us to borrow and mentioned she had just sold her house. After she left, my son asked why I hadn’t recommended his services as a real estate agent to the neighbor. Without thinking, I blurted out, “I haven’t been to church in four months. I have no idea what’s going on in the ward.” As soon as the words left my mouth, I realized what I had done. His look of surprise was an instant reminder that my change of heart regarding religion was still very much a private affair. But that privacy ended the minute he said, “Talk to me mom. What’s going on?”
I tried to postpone the inevitable, saying we could talk some evening when the children were in bed, but he wouldn’t be put off. When I first discovered the truth regarding church history and doctrine, I hadn’t wanted to add to the stress of his wife’s high-risk pregnancy so decided to wait until the baby was born to share the information. Since I was holding that precious little boy in my arms at that very moment, I knew the time had come. Fear of damaging the relationship with my son and daughter-in-law, and risking the loss of my grandsons because of their possible anger, I hesitated to share my journey out of Mormonism. But I couldn’t deny the truths I’d learned or the relationship I was forming with the Jesus of the Bible.
“For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matthew 10:35-37 ASV)
So with a deep breath and a plea to heaven, I began. After every new revelation of truth, I admonished him to think about it for a while and suggested we talk more another time. But after a few minutes, he would reply, “I’m ready. Tell me more.” His darling wife was silent as she kept scrubbing cupboards. I suspected she was crying and fearful of what was happening to her “eternal family.” At my son’s insistence, I continued to talk and rock the sleeping baby. After a couple of hours, my kitchen looked much better, my son was accepting everything I had shared, and my darling girl was distraught. When I mentioned that I had been talking and processing these doctrinal issues with a Christian friend, she asked if I’d call and request some time for her. Within the hour, my friend and her husband (who is a pastor) were in my home to answer her questions. I cried for and with her because I knew firsthand the emotional distress she was experiencing as her world fell apart. My heart was in constant prayer for her as I walked through the experience of hearing truth again as she heard it for the first time.
I expressed my love for them, and reassured them that my love was unconditional. Whatever they decided to do in regards to religion and in raising their children, they would have my support. When asked why I didn’t tell them sooner, I reminded them of the tenuous pregnancy issues and my desire not add to their stress with the news I was leaving the church. I also admitted to the fear of losing them and my grandchildren, but knew that eventually I’d have to accept that risk in proclaiming my new-found faith in Christ. My heart leapt with indescribable joy when my son responded, “Mom! Did you really think we would do that? We can’t raise these boys without you!” I’ve been thanking God every day since then for His mercy in gifting me this precious family in my new life with Him.
I extended the invitation to watch the toddlers the following day if they wanted to attend the non-denominational church with my friends. Imagine my delight when I opened the door the next morning to see the adorable little faces of my grandsons and heard my son announce, “We brought your grandchildren back! We’re going to [a Christian] church today.” Since then, we’ve been worshiping together most every Sunday and have attended classes as we learn about this amazing “new” gospel of Jesus Christ.
Yes, God can and does make beauty from ashes…figuratively and literally! He turned the ashes of a kitchen fire into the beauty of bringing this young family into the body of Christ. Praise and glory be to the Most High God!