When I was a little girl, my mom had a beautiful green dress hanging in the closet of our guest bedroom. She’d worn the dress to parties in the post WW2 era. It was exciting just hearing her talk about the dances and parties. I must have shown too much interest at some point, because I remember being forbidden from touching or playing with it.
Well, once it became taboo, it might as well have had a Denise-magnet sewn into the fabric. I really wanted to wear that dress. Green was my favorite color back then, so that made it all the more alluring. And that sheer fabric over the satin, oh how it beckoned me. Mom rarely got angry with me, but when she did, she meant business, so I only admired it from the closet door.
Until it became worth the risk.
The summer I turned seven we had some missionaries come to the remote Alaskan town I grew up in. The Vacation Bible School took place very near my house, and though my parents were not even remotely religious, they allowed me to go. We had a week of learning Bible stories, playing games, and enjoying snacks.
What began as just ‘something to do’ became a life-changing event for me. I learned about a God who was my Father. I learned that even though He was the creator of the universe, He knew me and loved me. A daddy who loved me! This was very exciting news to me!
The missionaries taught me about talking to God through prayer, and about Jesus coming to earth to provide a way for us all to go to Heaven. They told me if I accepted Jesus into my heart He would live there forever. He would always be with me, and never leave me no matter what. Considering how alone I often felt, this was probably the most important thing I gleaned at the time. The importance of repentance and salvation would come later.
I’m not exactly sure when I made the actual decision to invite Jesus into my heart. When I did, though, I knew I wanted to get really dressed up. Only the most extravagant and beautiful dress would do for this occasion. I went into the guest room and put on the green dress. I was so short, it pooled at my feet on the floor. Watching myself spin in the full-length mirror, I marveled at how the dress lifted into the air and twirled. I felt like a princess preparing for my prince to arrive in the pumpkin carriage.
Unsure of exactly how to ask Jesus to live in my heart, I tried to remember the details of what the missionaries had told me. I sure didn’t want to mess this up. To cover my bases, I did it twice. First, I kneeled at the guest bed and closed my eyes. I told Jesus I really wanted Him to live in my heart, and asked Him if He would please come stay with me forever. Then I opened my eyes and did it all over again. Just in case.
“Let the children be, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14
It was one of the most special times in my life. I felt accepted and loved. Without a doubt, I knew He heard me, and was with me. I felt a wonderful sense of peace and calm. I replaced the dress in the closet and slipped out of the room. Mom never knew I’d borrowed her dress to meet Jesus. Many years later I asked if I could have the dress, and she gave it to me. It hangs in my closet now, a tangible reminder of the day I welcomed Jesus into my heart.