Not Just Another Haunted House Story

RENEE MATHIS|CONTRIBUTOR

As my husband and I made progress in our homeschooling journey, like most parents, we read and read and read some more. We noticed words that kept showing up, words like “reformed” and “covenant” and “sovereignty.” Who were these people who baptized their babies? Was it possible that Christianity went back farther than Billy Graham and encompassed more than our non-denominational Bible church? We kept reading.

Providentially, (oh how I’ve grown to love that word!), the Lord brought me a homeschooling friend who answered many of my questions. Although she lived across town, it turns out she attended a small PCA church in my neighborhood. And we had mutual friends who attended the same church and they invited us into their home and answered even more questions. We kept reading.  Authors like R.C. Sproul and Michael Horton and G.I. Williamson started to fill our shelves.

A New House

Those bookshelves started to overflow! We joked that after twelve years and five children, our little “starter home” had certainly gotten us off to a great start! Thankfully we found a larger house the next subdivision over. When we excitedly showed the pictures to our friends at church, the first thing they said was “Oh! That’s the E’s old house. They are wonderful people and they went to…” Guess where? That same neighborhood PCA church. It seemed the E’s had left their mark on more than just the stenciled nursery walls. Joshua 24:15 was permanently attached to the front doorway.  I already loved this house. This two-story red brick, with its friendly kitchen and ample laundry room was going to be just perfect.

We had barely settled in when I heard a knock on the front door. “Hi, I’m Paula and I’m from the neighborhood PCA church, here with a loaf of freshly baked bread. Welcome to the neighborhood! We love the E family and you’ll love this house.”  It seems the E’s left quite a legacy!  Our curiosity about the PCA was growing. As involved as we were in our own church, however, the idea of leaving didn’t occur to us. But we kept reading.

Fast forward a couple of years and I found myself working the registration table at a local homeschool event. The slim blonde woman with the wide smile handed me her check. “I know you!” I exclaimed, “but I can’t figure out how.”  We had some mutual friends, who went to my neighborhood PCA church, but that seemed to be the extent of our connections. Ten minutes later, I jumped up, ran over to her, grabbed her by the shoulders and exclaimed even louder, “Jerri! From Young Life Camp! Frontier Ranch!” Turns out she had been my summer staff counselor over nineteen years ago. Coincidence? Of course not! God was still at work.

A New Church Home

Jerri and her husband were part of a core group who were involved in planting a PCA church in Katy, Texas. How gracious the Lord was! I look back at these years and I’m amazed at how the Lord gently drew us to the church home we needed. We love to talk about how God is sovereign, especially regarding our salvation, but we experienced His sovereignty in orchestrating many small events in our life. This master weaver took the threads of our questions, hospitable friends, a family we would never meet, and a denomination we had never heard of and wove them together into a tapestry that said “Come. Welcome.” The more we learned of these Christians who loved God’s word – all of it – and who were committed to beauty and traditions and connections – we began to long to be part of this body.

One big question that Christians love to discuss is how should we determine God’s will? Is it something mysterious and far off? Is it something that we can never know until we’ve somehow messed things up? The good news of the gospel is also good news for followers of Christ. That same God who delighted in drawing you to Himself and saving you, also delights in your daily walk with Him. His will for our lives can be found in His word. We can pray and ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom. We can talk to trusted Christian friends and advisors. We can also look around us and, with discernment, look at the circumstances God has allowed in our lives.  If we have determined that a particular decision is one that will allow us to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, then taking that first step –even if it’s a tiny one – is a joyful journey of faith. If you need a place to start, start with Romans 12:2. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

We began attending Christ Church on Sunday nights and then in January of 2000 joined them on Sunday mornings. This congregation first met on October 31, 1999: a day that is not scary, but will forever be memorable as a reminder of God’s providential care. We are still in our 2 story red-brick, and although we never met the E family, the Bible verse is still on the front door. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

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