THIS IS MY story.
My story is not one that is fraught with tragedy.
For as long as I can remember, my life has always had some framework of the Christian religion. My grandparents were devout Catholics and were very involved in the church, my great uncle was a minister and my dad had been on a path to becoming a priest. Given that environment, you’d think that I had the makings of a typical Christian family that would have attended church regularly. However, for me that wasn’t the case. For whatever reason, whatever situations caused it, we didn’t attend church regularly or really at all. Outside of weddings and funerals, most of the time I did attend church was when I was little usually involved some sort of Catholic mass. For me that meant what felt like an hours long stand up, sit down, you don’t really belong here so you can’t participate in everything affair. Not exactly the kind of environment that says, “you’re welcome here and Jesus loves you.”
As I grew up I believed in God, but definitely lacked any theology to back it up. I tried several times as a late teen/young adult to try to attend church but always the same result, a feeling of being an outsider. I didn’t need other people telling me about faith, what to believe or make me feel guilty that I hadn’t attended church my whole life. I really believed that I didn’t need the church. You see, to me the church was a building, not the people inside it. After all, God created the whole earth and what better way to commune with him than a nice run, bike ride or hike exploring the great outdoors. I didn’t need church. I didn’t need four walls to believe in God or Jesus.
I had a stirring again in my mid-thirties that was another tug at my spirit. I had attended a child dedication and was very moved by the pastor’s sermon. I tried again to attend church but was once again disheartened by the “member” mentality of the church. It seemed as if wanting to belong to this particular church meant that you really needed to grow up in this church. There was no clear path as to how an outsider such as myself could belong so I stopped attending.
Fast forward to about a year and a half ago when I found another church worth trying. It was a large church, easy enough to come in and hide. But this time something felt different. They even had a message one week that said I belong. Not a “you belong after you follow a bunch of our rules and processes”, but you belong because you believe in Jesus Christ. It was as if God had said “this is your home, this is what you have been looking for.” I was still skeptical, but something kept pulling me back to this church. Week after week I went to church and week after week I continued to feel that stirring in my heart. I had found my home and realized how wrong I had been.
It wasn’t the “four walls” that I needed, it was the people. Worshiping with others I found that thing that I had been missing. That piece of the puzzle that kept me from being completely fulfilled. The church provided so many good services to its members that I found myself wanting to give back. God was pulling me along again in directions I had never really gone and would have previously feared. Soon I found myself serving weekly. This serving gave me a chance to be with someone who is a great mentor to a number of people, and one I have the pleasure of working side by side with weekly.
Then, roughly six months later I loosened my grip from the seat of my chair and made the decision to give my life to Jesus Christ and was baptized. It was a pivotal moment that was a tipping point in my life. I realized I was meant for more than what I had been moving and striving towards up to that point in my life. I just never knew that the thing I was missing wasn’t a tangible, earthly thing. It couldn’t be bought with anything I’ve earned or worked for. It was something that Jesus earned for me when He died on the cross, giving Himself for me so that I may be saved. I just needed to open my heart and accept His sacrifice and follow Him in faith. My story is just at the beginning but what a whirlwind it has been so far. My life has really been blessed and I have always had more than I needed, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t missing something.
I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
Originally published January 23, 2019 on firstchristian.com. © 2019 First Christian Church.