My story of faith (Part 1)
Maybe I could keep it really sweet and simple and leave it at that: When I was 5 years old, I recall praying in the corner of the kitchen while my mom was cooking supper. I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and come into my heart, then shyly let her know. I don’t recall what proceeded those moments.
If I could only leave my story there and say “the end”. Sweet and simple.
Family life had deep Christian roots. I was baptized as an infant and raised by Christian parents who read the Bible and prayed after our supper meal every day. We attended church morning and evening on Sundays, as well as Sunday School, catechism classes and mid-week youth activities. I was educated in a Christian school. My parents were training up their children as they had been trained by their own parents. I am thankful that I personally knew several of my great-grandparents who also left a legacy of faith.
From that first prayer, and even before, the Holy Spirit was at work in my life.
The rest of the story seems darker. Maybe it didn’t have to be, but it has been.
True confession: I haven’t often wanted to share the gospel with others. Hard to explain why, but it’s true. I am confessing this, red-faced and embarrassed. When I think about sharing the gospel out loud, I think “What is there endearing about it? Who would believe this, and why?” It is so much to take in, so much to explain.
It is also true and trustworthy, the Word of our Father and Creator, God.
In the gospel (the good news) of Jesus Christ there is incredible comfort and hope. But on the surface, living life, there is also lots of trouble. Jesus Himself tells us “In this world you will have trouble…” (John 16:33)
Friends, I have had trouble in this world. (Haven’t we all?)
(God, please help me to express this the way I should and in a way that honors You.)
As a kid, I often thought I was getting the bad end of the deal. I developed some pretty negative thinking. In junior high, it only got worse. Christianity, to me at that time was a set of rules that I performed to please people and keep out of trouble, not something I took seriously.
I started having issues at home. Mainly, I thought life was unfair, became angry, and caused a great deal of strife.
Outwardly, I conformed to all the rules. I managed fairly well at church and school. Inwardly, I was upset all the time, and my parents and siblings bore the brunt of it. I argued about everything. Without being rebellious or wild in the classic sense of the word, I tried to push all the boundaries. Primarily it was in how I communicated, which was disrespectfully and with a quick temper. This wasn’t just for a small period of time. It lasted pretty much all the way through high school.
When I was in 7th grade, my mom’s brother had been diagnosed with cancer, and it started to spread rapidly. He was a fun, kind uncle and had a great sense of humor. He also had a deep faith and trust in God, having suffered with cancer for several years. Because of him, I became aware of the brevity of life, and I seriously started to wonder if I would go to heaven if I died. As I watched what he was going through, I agonized about these questions for quite some time.
One day I remember having one of those terrible arguments with my parents. I went and sat on the floor of my dark closet and cursed God. Literally, I said swear words to God. I felt sick inside about how I lashed out, but soon forgot. (More about this in part 2, not yet published.)
In February, 1985 this dear uncle passed away, surrounded by family. I loved hearing how his last words expressed his certainty of heaven. I started to wonder, “Is heaven real? Will I see him again? If it is real, will I see him again?”
Sitting in my bedroom one evening I opened the Bible to Psalm 34, and the words changed my life, forever. It was the first time the Scripture became real and personal to me. (To this day, it is my favorite Psalm.) I found a measure of peace I didn’t have before, and comfort that God’s promises were true.
I sought the Lord, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
The Lord redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.
Psalm 34:4,18 and 22 (ESV)
Coming soon….part 2!
Wondering more about the gospel? Here is a great place to start.