MD: What a great story. Betty, I find it fascinating that you saw something in James, even though he was a loner and shy. And, James, at the age of five years old, when your mother came to take you back from your foster parents, you had a cardboard suitcase. In Living Amazed, you share that you still have that suitcase. Is there a special reason why you keep it?
JR: It sits in my office. I actually took it to a staff meeting. I held it up and said that everything that I had [when I was five] was in this little cardboard suitcase. And it really was! I sat on it as a little 5-year-old while we hitchhiked. I think that it’s important to remember what you were delivered from. In the New Testament, God reminded His people of the importance of not forgetting the blessings of God. [As it’s often said],“I remember from whence I came.” I came to where I can have a wife, a family, three children who love God, and eleven grandchildren. It’s just a beautiful picture of God’s grace.
MD: While reading Living Amazed, I renamed the title of your book several times. At one point, I renamed it Surrender. At another point, I renamed it Character. We hear a lot of ministers telling people to “surrender” themselves to God. But, I’m not convinced that people know what that means. Could you define that? What does it mean to “surrender” to the Lord?
JR: I really like the term “yield,” rather than surrender. Surrender seems to imply, perhaps, force — as if you say, “I give up.”
MD: Hmmm … that’s an interesting thought.
JR: Although I’ve faced challenging circumstances in my life, I’ve never come to the end of myself just because of my circumstances. After hearing wonderful testimonies of people who grew to love God more when they suffered some great loss, I once said, “God, I think I’ve lost my first love. Maybe You need to take everything from me, then I’ll love You more.” And it was just amazing how clearly God spoke to my heart. I heard Him say, “Take everything away from you, so you’ll love me more than nothing? I’m going to give you everything, and see if you’ll love me more than everything.”
JR: And, boy, that absolutely blew me away! I said, “Well, Lord, I’m going to love You more than everything,” and I have. So, the term that I like better than “surrender” is “yield.” You yield your life by choice. “Lose your life in My Kingdom’s purpose … lose your life for My sake,” Jesus said, “and you’ll find it.” If you try to keep your life, you’ll lose it. I hope that every person reading this article and every person reading my book will say, “Lord, I give You my life. I put it in Your Hands. Shape me into a vessel of honor. Fill me with Your Spirit.” When you yield to Christ, you become a well-watered garden.