Writing from the perspective of years, I look back over my life and see how God was protecting and shielding me from many things. Even the fact that my childhood memories are so spotty is a blessing. But the recounting of my life and childhood would be incomplete without sharing the story of my salvation
We were faithful to the Nazarene church every time the doors were open. One of my brothers was born on a Sunday and Mother had him in church the next. He did not miss a Sunday for several years. The Nazarene church used to give out pins for perfect attendance. The first year pin was followed by the second year crest that encircled the pin that was then followed by bars for each succeeding year. The Roberts children each had long strings of pins. But church attendance does not a Christian make.
I believe I was nine years old when I understood that I was a sinner. It was during a Vacation Bible School week. If I could visit the Rose Hill Church of the Nazarene today, I think I could go to the exact pew where I got on my knees and asked Jesus to be my Savior. Even though in later years I would question my salvation, there is no doubt in my mind that this event was real and I knew what I was doing. Afterwards, I felt different, as if a real change had taken place. Because we were always in church, I don’t think there was a noticeable outward change. But I knew Christ was now in my heart.
The pastor was a good man who preached the Gospel along with Nazarene doctrines. I remember hearing many sermons on being “saved and sanctified.” The church believed there was a second step after salvation that believers needed to take called sanctification. There was also a great deal of emphasis on holiness. There was not any preaching on the security of the believer. Even though my grandmother “loved Jesus,” she was never secure in his love for her and always felt there was a chance she could lose her salvation. If you would ask my grandmother if she knew for sure that she was going to Heaven, she would say, “I hope so.” Then she would study her Bible, teach Sunday school and work as hard as she could be to be sure that did not happen. I was standing beside her bed shortly before she died. It was not until then that Mama seemed to have the peace that she truly was going to be with Jesus.
I had a Godly Sunday school teacher who loved the girls in her class. Everyone looked forward to being old enough to be in “Aunt Lottie’s” class. She had a quiet, serene demeanor and a smile that warmed your heart. I felt sure she lived the closest to Jesus that anyone could live, and in her presence I felt truly loved. She knew my home situation and tried to encourage my mother. What a sweet memory from my childhood – one of a very few.
It is hard to pinpoint the exact year in my life when Mother filed for divorce from Daddy, but I think it was when I was in the sixth grade. In time, she met a man through her nursing, one of her patients, who helped us move away from the house across the cow pasture from Mama. By this time, Daddy had been released from the hospital and was under a court order to stay away from us. Once the divorce was final, Mother married this man who had two children of his own. It was not a happy union.