Pieces of a Puzzle

Pieces of a Puzzle

One guy, who played football for Miami High, was a bad guy. Well, one day, Jack the bad guy, walked up the main entrance to West End Park with a Bible in his hand. We couldn’t figure out what Jack was doing with a Bible much less bringing it to the park. We quickly found out that Jack had become a Christian. I didn’t really know what that meant, but I knew Jack had changed.

Before you join a Presbyterian Church in America you’re asked to give your testimony of your salvation through God’s grace. Each testimony is as different as is our DNA. God irresistibly drawing me to Himself started a long time ago. It was a puzzle being put together one piece at a time until God placed the last piece into my life to complete His calling of me.

The Puzzle Piece shaped like a cross – Norfolk, Virginia 1943
One Easter Sunday morning my mother decided that we should go to church and she and Daddy stayed home with my little brothers. My older siblings: Catherine, Tony, Richard, and Jimmy had been to Holy Trinity Catholic Church before. However, it was the first time for my younger brother, Jonny, and me. I was very excited but I didn’t know church behavior so I watched the older kids and copied them. They walked down the center aisle looking up at the big cross with Jesus on it and before they turned to take a seat, one by one they each kneeled on one leg, looked up at Jesus, and made the sign of the cross. It was my turn to take a seat in the pew and not only did I follow what they did but I couldn’t wait to kneel and make the sign of the cross. It was awesome to me to kneel at the cross of Jesus.

The Puzzle Piece shaped like a billboard – Somewhere in South Carolina 1945
World War II was over and our family was moving to Miami, Florida. My father was driving our new station wagon to Miami with Tony, Richard, Jimmy, Jonny and me. My mother, Catherine, and my youngest brothers, Charlie and Mike, were taking the train to Miami. All of us in the car loved seeing the small towns and big bridges and people as we traveled. We read all the “Burma Shave” signs and almost every billboard we saw. Mostly we laughed at the signs but there was one I didn’t laugh at. I read aloud a sign that said, “Jesus Saves.” Then Jimmy said in a smart-alecky voice, “Saves What?” and he laughed. I didn’t know what he saved either but there was something in my eight year-old heart that didn’t like Jimmy making fun of Jesus.

The Puzzle Piece shaped like a Bible character – Miami, Florida 1950
Once a week, in our classroom at Fairlawn Elementary School, a woman came and told us Bible stories. She used flannel Bible characters to tell the story. She would set up an easel and put the large flannel board on the easel. I watched with fascination as she moved Bible people around while telling the story. She would add animals and trees and scenery as the story unfolded. I looked forward to “Bible Story” days.

The Puzzle Piece shaped like a musical note – Miami, Florida 1950
During the same year as the flannel board stories my youngest brother, Mike, came home from kindergarten singing, “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.” I listened to Mike sing it twice and then I joined him and enjoyed singing that Jesus loves me.

The Puzzle Piece shaped like a radio – Miami, Florida 1950
During the same time period there was a program on the radio called, “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” It was all about Jesus and God. It was a Sunday show and I listened to it every Sunday. I especially liked when God talked from Heaven. The music introducing God’s voice was beautiful and I could picture heaven opening up for God to speak. God was working in my heart and I didn’t know it.

The Puzzle Piece shaped like a church – Miami, Florida 1951
Two of my girl friends in Junior High invited me to go to their church on Easter Sunday. I really wanted to go and my mother gave me permission to take the city bus to the church. We three girls sat in the front row. I don’t remember what the preacher said that morning but I do remember that I liked being in church.

The final Piece of the Puzzle is shaped like a volleyball – Miami, Florida 1952
When the Summer of ‘52 began, the Summer before I started high school, my friend, Sandy, called me and told me to meet her at West End Park to play some volleyball with the kids there. We met at the park and yes, there were a lot of high school kids there. There were good kids and not so good kids playing volleyball.

One guy, who played football for Miami High, was a bad guy. Well, one day, Jack the bad guy, walked up the main entrance to West End Park with a Bible in his hand. We couldn’t figure out what Jack was doing with a Bible much less bringing it to the park. We quickly found out that Jack had become a Christian. I didn’t really know what that meant, but I knew Jack had changed.

He was pulling people aside and opening his Bible and talking to them. This was scary to me because I knew very little about the Bible. But, Jack got me! We were sitting in the Park Director’s office after a volleyball game when Jack walked in, sat down beside me and pulled out his Bible. I was cornered. There was no escape route. I had to sit and listen while Jack pointed to words in the Bible and asked me questions. I didn’t think he’d ever be finished. Finally, finally, finally he said, “Miriam, do you believe this?” To get rid of him I said, “Yes.” “Well then, Miriam you’re SAVED!” That made no sense to me but I didn’t care, I just wanted out of that office and away from Jack and his Bible.

Well the news got around the park that I was saved. One of the park girls invited me to a revival at her Baptist church. I had no clue what a revival was but I wanted to go. This was God turning my heart and mind towards Him. When I got to the church my friend said, “We’re going to sing in the youth choir would you like to join us?” I love to sing so I immediately said, “Yes.”

Little did I know that saying “Yes” would turn out to be the longest, strangest, evening of my life. I was up in the choir loft with the youth choir and a hymn book in my hand and I was happily singing away. Then we sat down for the young man to preach the revival message. When he finished his Bible message he asked if anyone wanted to rededicate their life to the Lord. Not knowing what “rededicate your life” meant, I just sat there feeling very safe surrounded by a whole group of choir kids. Then the bottom dropped out….the choir kids left their seats to “rededicate” their lives. They all stood in a row in front of the preacher. I was the only one left in the youth choir.

After about five minutes of me standing alone looking out at all the people sitting in the church seats, a member of the youth group walked up the choir loft steps. I knew he was coming to talk to me because I was the only one left in the choir. He opened his mouth and asked me, “Are you saved?” I thought, Jack said I was saved, so I answered, “Yes!” Evidently it was a good answer because his next question was, “Would you like to go down with the others and join the church.” All I could think of was that I’d say anything to get out of being the youth choir soloist, so I said, “Yes.”

He then led me to this long line of people in the front of the church. We were looking out at the people sitting in their pew looking at us. Talk about frying pan into the fire. The line in front of the church, of which I am now a member, was a receiving line. All the people in the pews came up one by one and shook my hand. People were shaking my hand and saying “God bless you” and things like that. Now I’m still not sure why I was there and what I had done. One lady came up to me and said, “Read your Bible every day.” God Struck….That Stuck!

The next day I asked my mother for a Bible. First of all you have to know that we had no money, so for me to ask my mother for anything that cost money was highly unusual. My mother didn’t say anything and you never nagged her so that was that. When I got home from the park the next day I found a Bible on my bed. I read it every day. God at work.

I started going to West Flagler Park Baptist every Sunday by myself. This was the summer that God had planned for me before the foundation of the world. His timing was perfect for me and for my future. A year later I lost my earthly father to an auto accident….but I now knew that I would never lose my Heavenly Father.

“The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building” (I Corinthians 3: 8-9).

“For He choose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding” (Ephesians 1: 4-8)

Miriam Gautier was a member of Treasure Coast Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Stuart, Fla; she was called home to glory on January 29, 2023.

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