Despite My Flaws & Imperfections ... God Loves Me
(written by Rayne Ethetton, member of Fellowship of Grace)
Who I am and God’s work in me starts when I was 6 months old. My daddy was a Seabee with the Navy in Vietnam. Some time after he left for the war, my birth mother developed a problem with drugs and abandoned me with a babysitter in Louisiana. I was there for 2 weeks. The babysitter finally realized my mom had left me, and was not coming back, so she got in touch with my mom’s dad who was a Colonial in the Air Force, and my grandpa and grandma took care of me until grandpa could get my daddy home from Vietnam. My daddy searched, but couldn’t find my mom.
When I was two, he met and married my step mom, Judy. She and my daddy raised me in Blue Springs, MO. When I was 6 years old my dad became a Christian through the testimony of his best friend James Ethetton (my husband Mike’s dad). I went to kindergarten in Blue Springs, MO with Mike (who is now my husband) and knew his family all of my life.
My dad was an alcoholic, and when he became a Christian it was very dramatic. I remember it and even though I was only 6 yrs old, I saw the difference in him before and after. Dad surrendered to be a preacher at Plaza Heights Baptist Church in Blue Springs, MO when I was 7 and we as a family moved to Memphis, TN, where he studied at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. We attended Belleview Baptist Church and Dr. Adrian Rogers was our pastor. Many times I wanted to go forward in church after he preached on Sundays, but was afraid to. While daddy was at Seminary, I sometimes went with him to classes in the evenings and listened. I remember shaking hands with his professors and hearing all about the Bible.
I grew up a lot of different places, being a preacher’s daughter. Our first church was in Harlowton, MT. I was a little girl from Mississippi and the kids made fun of my southern accent. I felt very alone and angry at God because I hated it there. I felt like it was God’s fault because Daddy kept saying that God brought us there. Many times when things were tough and we did not have money for things, Daddy would pray and it seemed like things would be okay and someone would help us. I remember Daddy saying that it was God taking care of us. There were many times I was listening to my Daddy preach and knew I needed Jesus, but I was very stubborn. I had to pretend to be a good girl because I was a preacher’s daughter and it was expected of me to be good…but I just followed through the motions of doing good “Christian things” that I thought you were supposed to do. I didn’t know Jesus, I just knew about Him.
For years this went on. When I was 10 years old on a Wednesday evening after church I felt a strong urge and longing in my soul. I was very sad and did not know why. I was in my bedroom and saw Daddy pass by and I asked him to come in and talk. I told him how I felt and that I was sorry for rejecting Jesus, and that I knew He loved me and wanted the best for me. I said I wanted to pray, so I did. I remember telling Jesus I was sorry for rejecting Him and that I did not want to say “No” anymore. I told Jesus that I knew I had done wrong and I knew that He was real and that heaven was real. I wanted to be with Him forever and wanted Him to help me to not do bad things anymore and I wanted Him to help me and be with me forever.
After I prayed, I felt a relief and a weight off of me. My daddy went and got His Bible read John 10:27-30 - “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” My daddy reached into his pocket and got a penny out and put it in his big hand (my daddy was a bi-vocational mechanic/pastor, so his hands were hard working hands with grease under the nails and in the lines of his skin) he said “this is you, Rayne,” referring to the penny… then he closed his hand. He said, “Now try to get the penny out” he had closed his hand tight. I couldn’t. He said, “You are in Jesus nothing can take you out.” Then he put his other big hand on top of that hand and said, “This is God’s hand, you are in Jesus and Jesus is in God. Nothing can take you out, and you are forever in Him protected.” Those verses have always given me comfort.
I attended a Baptist College (The University of Mobile) and was active in the Baptist Church across from the college (College Park Baptist Church). There I met and lived with a Godly woman named Nancy Smith who taught me to be a humble and Godly young woman. I became a Journeyman missionary with the International Mission Board (IMB) in Japan after college. I was offered a full time position there with the IMB in Japan, but felt God leading me back to America. I married Mike (the son of the man who helped lead my daddy to Jesus and ultimately ME to Jesus). As a couple we have felt God leading us to missions and Godly hospitality in our daily life and follow Him as He leads. We guide our daughters toward Jesus and train them to follow Him. Through the years, God showed me that being a “Christian” isn’t about just doing good works… and that salvation is a process, a lifelong one. He made it clear that I do not have to earn my salvation or His love (Eph. 2:8-9). For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
He has given me fulfillment and purpose and joy. I am not perfect and I still mess up, but God loves me despite my flaws and imperfections. I have sinned big since making the commitment to Jesus as a small girl, and when I am filled with the guilt and shame of the memories of them, Jesus reminds me that He has never once left me. He has supplied our needs as a family, just as I saw Him do for my family as a little girl. Through happy times I sense Jesus there, but in the dark times I sense Him even stronger. Mike and I have lost 2 babies through miscarriage, and even then I knew Jesus was with me and I came out stronger each time, with a humbleness and peace only the Holy Spirit can give through heartache. He has shown Himself to me in His Word, the Bible, that in Hebrews 13:5 “I will never leave you nor forsake you” and Romans 8:28 that “In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
I am forever thankful that God loved me at my lowest point even as a child. Jesus rescued me from myself, and eternal separation from God, and continues to teach me and is patient with me through His great love. I am not perfect and I still mess up, but God still loves me despite my flaws and imperfections.