Experiencing The Gift of Grace

I was raised by a redheaded preacher's daughter. I still remember hearing my grandfather shake the rafters in that white clapboard country church, high in the mountains of Alabama. It was very different from the Methodist Church I attended with my mama, daddy and sister down the street from our little house in the big city of Huntsville. But one thing was the same. God had me by the hand and He never let go. He went with me to school and helped me with my tests, moving a shade if the answer was "B" instead of "A." I knew God was good, and I thought I was, too. I knew in my heart that He had a big plan for me. I woke up every morning wondering, "Is it going to be today?!" I was always expecting something big to happen. God was the first person I talked to in the morning and the last person at night. I knew He loved me and I loved Him. I knew I was safe. I knew all the stories of His Son, Jesus, with His flowing hair and robes. But it was The Father to whom I delivered my prayers and my heart. I knew He would take care of me. That was until I grew older and decided that I could take care of myself.

I had a lot of confidence as a girl growing into a young woman. God and a loving, devoted family had given me that gift. But the world beckoned, and I answered with a vengeance. I pushed away the thoughts that the things I was doing were wrong. After all, everyone I knew was doing whatever I was doing and worse. It was modern times. We'd gone to the moon, and the universe was beckoning! The One who had created the universe seemed far away from me. I wanted everything the world could give me. And it did deliver. I got accolades, crowns, cars and a great career in the entertainment business. I moved to New York and never looked back. Maybe I thought I'd left God back there in my childhood, too. I still believed in Him, but I didn't spend much time with Him.I was considered a "good person." I helped people and tried to be good, but the truth was...by the time life brought me to my knees, I'd pretty much broken every single commandment. I had two beautiful boys and a new husband when I moved from New York City to Los Angeles. That's when the real trouble began. My career took off. We bought an old Hollywood home in the Pacific Palisades, we attended church, I was on the Board, we taught Sunday School, didn't drink or smoke, and our family was falling apart. Trouble comes to everyone, and we used every resource that money and the world could offer to fix it. Our trouble only grew worse. We were at a point where we were losing our son, our home, our career, our marriage, our family and our minds. We were desperate.

I stopped asking, "Is it going to happen today?" and began saying, "How am I going to get through this day?" It took me awhile to realize that the same God who protected me as a child was still there, waiting and watching, His hand outstretched. Finally, like the drowning woman I was, I grabbed hold for dear life. And I knew that the Hand that held mine, though scarred, had never let me go. I got into a Bible study, got into His Word, got on my knees, got right in my heart and got real. God is the only answer. And even though our troubles aren't over, I experience the peace that passes all understanding. I've stopped looking for a person to save me and my family, because no one can save or change me, my circumstances, my mind or my heart - no one except for Jesus Christ. Praise God for His Grace in saving my life and showing me my true purpose. And I thank this church, and especially the Mighty Women of God that I met here and that I'm privileged to call my sisters and friends. Their prayers sustain me, their friendship encourages me and their love lifts me up..

Editors Note: Pam Brackley (known as Pamela K. Long) is a multiple Emmy Award winning writer, Executive Producer and former Miss Alabama. Recent hits include "Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors" and "Dolly Parton's Christmas of Many Colors - Circle of Love." The latter, featured in November on NBC, will re-air on December 23, 2016.