As my wife and I were discussion just yesterday, everyone has a faith journey and a story needing to be told, but unfortunately few write it down. Writing is laborious, personal and to some threatening. Transparency assumes that one has something to say. The older I become, the deeper into community I participate, the more I realize that.
From early childhood, my life has been surrounded by people with true spiritual expectations. Literalists in their interpretation of scripture, their “by the Book” lifestyles seemed to afford numerous God Moments. Apart from the institutional constraints of an early Pentecostal movement, spiritual freedom, miraculous intervention and yes, even prosperity, blessings beyond their skill set was a way of life for these hard working Great Depression survivors!
My personality type limited personal righteousness more than I would now desire, but I have certainly known an abundance of grace. Paraphrasing the Apostle Paul, “God forbid that one sin knowing that grace abounds, but where sin abounds, grace does much more abound.”
Can I get a witness!
For me this is not just some religious promise, but a reality so profoundly experienced that I can offer a date, Jan 3, 1973. No preacher was present to bring a heightened emotion, followed by an altar call, though I respect the fact that so many have entered the Kingdom in just such a moment. For me, church was not a place I frequented. Rather, it was a late evening visit to my Dad’s house, a Divine appointment that allowed me to walk in on his prayers, my name personally a part of his asks of God!
Sober at the time, as I had so grown to respect this dear man, though still doubtful of his consistent though compassionate religious bent. In my arrogance I walked up behind his kneeled frame, laid my hand on this shoulder, fully prepared to tell him I was fine and that he needed to “get a life”! Touching him was a life changer, I can feel it as I write; my body was suddenly overwhelmed by a presence other than his. I stood dumb struck by that living room couch!
“God if you are out there and you can change my life, I will give it to you.” Words I shall forever remember. Suddenly, a voice spoke with clarity, one immediately recognized from my childhood: “If you will confess your sins with your mouth and believe in your heart that Christ died for you, you can be saved.” I had no clue that I would find that exact statement later on, once my now decades romance with a leather bound book began! My earnest response, “I think that is what I am doing, I must be saved.”
My life changed radically, my friends either scattered or inquired of this new found hope. My career as an educator took on new meaning. I now knew a peace that passed understanding. I knew a power that could bring remedy to the pity of those still trapped in my former life of lust, lies and limitations. Peace, power and pity generated a humble passion!
Little did I know the marvelous and at times perilous journey that lay before me? Back “home” at last, with even the errors of my past working for my good! To be continued.