Grateful Grace

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His mother was a Baptist and his dad a Methodist. They settled into and got involved with Mayflower Congregational Church in Pacific Grove, California.

In his young life seeds were planted as Charles studied the catechism in a Membership class at church. In a 3-year hiatus from Pacific Grove, Charles and his mother moved to San Francisco while his dad was away serving the Navy. It was during this time, when Charles was about ten years old that he felt a nudge from The Lord. When the Pastor asked those to stand up if they needed prayer, Charles stood up! But no changes evolved within as he and his mother were mainly focused on “making do” in a strange place, all the while missing his dad greatly.

All was well again three years later as the war ended, Charles’ dad came home, and they relocated to their little home and life back in Pacific Grove.

During Easter vacation of his junior year of high school, Charles went to a retreat with his youth group. The place was Mt. Hermon in the Santa Cruz Mountains and the speaker was an all-American football player who shared his own story of salvation. At the end of the service, a closing song made an impression. Search Me Oh God closes with the last two verses of Psalm 139. The music itself was meaningful as it was the same tune to Now Is The Hour – a song sung near the beginning of World War II when Charles’ dad went off to war.

“Search me, Oh God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Charles and his best friend Ben walked back to their cabin that night with Charles in a contemplative mood. As he asked Ben questions about what he had heard, Ben explained the gospel and Charles, putting all the pieces together in his mind and heart, accepted and believed.

He was born again.

Just a few months later, as he was about to enter his senior year of high school, Charles, with his parents, moved away.

His dad had accepted a new position in a different location. The Youth Pastor, concerned for Charles and his new-found faith, gave him a copy of Haley’s Bible Handbook and tried to instill the fact that studying Scripture and God’s Word was essential for spiritual growth.

Charles finished high school in a new city and went off to college. After graduation and one year of teaching, he entered the Navy. For the next years he would experience marriage, the birth of four children and many, many moves. Although spiritual seeds were planted along the way – various preaching, Billy Graham Crusade, etc. – Charles never experienced much growth in his Christian life up to that point. He was a Christian and attempted to live in such a way, but he hadn’t been taught in any way that would instill spiritual growth.

Then he was assigned a stint of teaching at the Naval Academy.

While there, Charles went from being a Naval Reserve Officer to becoming a regular Career Naval Officer.

As he processed from being a reserve officer to a career officer, Charles was motivated to “come clean” with the Navy and wrote them a letter regarding past offenses against the Navy. A formal letter came back from the “powers that be” saying “Filed for No Further Action.” To Charles, it was an indication from God that he was on the right track.

While stationed there, Charles was befriended by Jim Wilson, a former Navy officer who ran the local bookstore and Graham Guche, a fellow teacher. Their families attended College Avenue Baptist Church together and Jim connected Charles with Officer’s Christian Fellowship. Through these two friends, Charles was mentored and taught and influenced greatly in his understanding and application of the Bible.

Throughout the balance of his full career, Charles was given many opportunities not only to grow his faith but to share it, on various ships and stints at the Pentagon.

Upon retirement from the Navy and completing his Masters of Divinity at seminary, Charles went into full-time ministry.

But sin took hold and Charles not only succumbed but was defeated. He lost everything: his family, his career, his self-worth, his testimony.

Fast forward. Slow forward. God never let go.

Through new friends and a new church and a new pastor, Charles was led back through repentance, restoration and reconciliation.

More than thirty years later, Charles can only praise God for His Grace. Although Charles knows that sin cannot be undone and consequences prevail, He is thankful to again be used by God; to be restored to his children; and for the daily opportunity to be able to speak and share God’s truth – His Love and His Grace – to those he counsels, to the individuals God brings across his path.

 

 

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