THIS IS MY story.
I grew up in a Christian home. Dad and Mother, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, all were Christians. I accepted Christ as my personal Lord and Savior when I was 12.
Why? – I knew that when Jesus was 12 (Luke 2:41-50) he was in the temple doing his father’s work…. at 12, I felt that it was time that I made my affirmation of faith in Jesus. I did just that and was baptized. Four years later, I dedicated my life to Christ. Not sure why; just felt like that was what I was supposed to do. Had a great family oriented upbringing. Throughout my entire life there are not many Sundays that I have not been in church; I attribute that to my upbringing. However, once I left the protected environment of my hometown, I became more susceptible to temptation. During the next 10 years, two years of tech school, four years in the Air Force and four years of college, I acted more like the prodigal son than a practicing Christian. (During this time, however, I never quit going to church.)
Once out of college, I got a good job and five years later, got married. Two years later my daughter was born; 6 years later my son was born. All this time I continued to go to church… taught Sunday school…was involved in various Christian groups. Externally my life appeared to be all together. Steady employment, nice family, but I wasn’t walking with God the way I needed to be.
One Sunday night a Russian missionary came to our church to speak. He spoke on 1 Peter 5:6-11, which begins, “Humble yourselves under God’s mighty hand … “
Throughout his message he kept reiterating humble yourselves … humble yourselves. I’m a little slow on the up-take but he (more likely God) was starting to get through to me. I needed to re-examine my relationship with God. I needed to begin reading my bible more regularly; begin a dialogue with God (i.e. praying more frequently and come to the realization that I was not in this alone. ) This is when the real testing began.
When I hit 50 I was down-sized with 500 other folks. I had a family, house payment, car payment, credit card bills; living the American dream and now jobless. God was beginning to get my attention. I continued to pray.
Moved the family from Indiana to Ohio. Worked for a new company for eight months, only to be down-sized again. I then found work outside of my career field at a much lower pay rate.
During the same time that I was experiencing employment problems, my mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. We were at the “home” nearly every day for five years. My mother experienced a stroke and had to be fed through a tube. She could not communicate. To see her in that condition began to rip my heart out; I couldn’t understand why. Yet God never left me. Throughout all of this I continued to pray; God assured He was with me. I could have turned from God, but I didn’t. I did not quit and I did not give up; I had a family to care for and surrender was totally out of the question. God remained faithful.
There were times when I didn’t know how we were going to make it, but we did. I couldn’t do this alone. I had family, a church family and Christian friends that were very supportive. I praise God for that.
Two years ago I turned 66 and was down-sized again. It is interesting how an event like that, at my age, affects your mind, your motivation, your attitude and especially your bank account.
My faith is in God and I refuse to give up or quit. I will continue to put one foot in front of the other; stay alert and see where God leads me. I’ve heard it said that if you still have a pulse; you still have a purpose.
In Paul’s thirteen letters he almost always begins by telling us who he is in relation to God and who we are in relation to God. This is very different from what you see on television.
Car commercials want you to think of your life in relation to things you have. Beer commercials want you to think of your life in relation to the crowd around you at the pub. Life insurance commercials want you to think of your life in relation to your family with touching scenes of childhood and graduation and marriage and first home and first child. And a hundred soaps and deodorants and shampoos and foods want you to think of your life in relation to your body.
But the Bible is relentless in this one thing: it calls us back again and again, not to deny the existence of things like cars, or friends at the cafe, or families, or our own bodies, but to give these things their true meaning in relation to God. The Bible defines everything in relation to God. Everything has its true significance or insignificance in relation to God.
A tremendous stability comes into your life when you let the God define who you are. To know where you’ve come from in relation to God, and where you are heading in relation to God, and where you stand now in relation to God, will make you strong and steadfast.
So I close this by urging you to understand yourself in relation to God. When you look back, know yourself as called by God. When you look forward, know yourself kept by God. What happened to make you a Christian is the call of God. What will happen to keep you a Christian is the faithfulness of God. Know who… and whose you are.
1 Peter 5:6, 10-11—
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Originally published January 29, 2019 on firstchristian.com. © 2019 First Christian Church.