Sally was gloriously converted to Christ. She began coming to church with her three young children and made immediate sweeping changes in her life and belief system. Her husband wasn’t quite so easily convinced, but Sally made a concerted effort to pray for him. So within a short time of her coming to church he gave his life to Christ as well, and just as quickly enrolled in a seminary and secured a diploma to become a minister.
But Sally wasn’t done praying. She prayed for many others in her family to come to Christ. Among those who she was concerned about was her mother. You see, Sally’s mother was a bonafide witch; sorceries, incantations and all.
At a certain point, however, Sally’s mother was dying from complications related to diabetes. Her eyesight was nearly gone and she was confined to a wheelchair. Finally, Sally’s prayers broke through and her mother humbled herself and fully surrendered her life to Christ. I still remember the day Sally called me to tell me the good news. But by then, her mother had only a few months to live.
Our church was in the Los Angeles area of Southern California, and every year in the summer, we would have a baptism at a beach called Corona Del Mar. There is a cove at this beach that is protected from the waves coming off the Pacific Ocean that was, and still is, a popular baptism spot for churches. The cove is separated from the main beach area by a large rock formation, perhaps thirty feet high, seventy-five feet wide and a football field in length. There was a series of steps that people could take up the formation, a pathway across the top of it, and then another series of steps to descend down to the cove on the other side.
When Sally’s mother heard about the baptism we were going to have at the beach that year, she decided that she would be baptized there as well. We tried to talk her into being baptized at our church in the facilities available there, because it would be too hard for her to make the trek over the rock formation at the beach. We would even have a special baptism just for her. But she wouldn’t hear of it. She was bound and determined to be baptized in the Pacific Ocean.
When the day came, she arrived with four very large and muscular nephews and grandsons. There was no way a wheelchair would go up the stairs. The stairs were too narrow and steep; and it would not accommodate a wheelchair. So her strong young relatives carried Sally’s mother seated in her chair up the stairs and over the entire expanse of the rock formation to the other side. However, when they got to the cove-side and were going to bring her down the steps, they found it would be too dangerous to attempt.
Some of us tried to dissuade her from continuing, but she wouldn’t hear of it. She said, “We have to find a way.”
At the end of the rock formation closest to the ocean, a grandson found a place where a rock-lip extended over the beach, the edge of which hovered about ten feet above the sand.
The grandson said, “This is where we will be able to get her down.”
She had her boys tie a section of rope to both of the small front wheels and to both handles of the wheelchair, with which they lowered her to the beach below. It was a harrowing few minutes watching the ordeal. But in the end it worked and her strong servants we able to set her safely and gently onto the sand. Once on the beach, they carried her, in the chair, all the way back to the cove-area where our baptism would take place.
We were baptizing about twenty people that year. Sally’s mother, and her four large relatives, waited patiently for her turn. When it came time, two of the young men walked beside her in the water, holding her up and supporting her, as she made her way to me into waist high water. I baptized her as the entire assembly of our church watched this incredible display of devotion to Christ; the one who had graciously and unconditionally received her into His family in spite of her previous lifestyle.
There wasn’t a dry eye on the beach that day, and I am not sure that Corona Del Mar has ever been the same.
As soon as she was back in her wheelchair, she and her four strong relatives went back to their car the same way they got to the beach. People watched in awe, not just because of the extreme efforts Sally’s mother went through to get to the cove, but in the power of God to save and transform a life from complete darkness into His marvelous light.
That day Sally proclaimed, and does so to this day, “Truly our God is mighty to save.”
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” I Peter 2:9 NKJV
“…It is I, the Lord, announcing your salvation; I, the Lord, the one who is mighty to save!” Isaiah 63:1 TLB
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