I generally don’t have a problem explaining an idea, opinion or an event. However, there is one glaring exception. I simply cannot, or at least up to now, haven’t been able to explain in terms that are acceptable to the listener, exactly why I am a Christian … a devout, born-again, completely devoted Christian and how that has affected my life and my attitudes about virtually everything about me. I think it’s important for me to attempt here, to explain it in carefully crafted words and thoughts.
Maybe the fact that Mom was what I lovingly refer to as “front pew” who believed that the only reason, good or otherwise, for missing church and Sunday School on Sunday morning was a hearse … in the driveway for your body. Everyone else was going to church; just maybe some of it soaked in.
I don’t remember exactly when I actually began listening to the teachers in my Sunday School classes but it was most likely my junior or senior year in high school. That’s when I was blessed to have the good fortune of being taught by a woman I considered the first truly Christian person I had ever met.
What? You mean Mom wasn’t a truly Christian person? Mom was a devout Christian in her daily life, but she never talked about it. She just lived it. Hanari Triboli on the other hand went that one step further and taught others about a Christian life. I didn’t realize it at the time but I do now. I know now that what I learned from her wasn’t words or phrases or examples. I learned what it was like to be around a person who had a truly Christian aura about her that so vivid you could almost see it and touch it. She planted a seed in those 2 years that Reverend Mark Miller cultivated the summer after high school graduation. The young couple who were with Campus Crusade for Christ attempted to harvest the crop, but … it was not to be for many years.
Thirty-six years passed before I even looked at a bible let alone opened one. Oh sure there were times when I prayed … “God please get me out of this mess.” But it was only when Marilyn became ill and begged me to begin attending church with her at last that I began the return trip to my Christian foundation. At that point I believed that God existed and that the person of Jesus of Nazareth had walked the earth, but did I believe that the things I wanted in life were important to them? No, I didn’t.
The sad truth is that I had never really learned anything about the faith I was supposed to be expressing. Not that I remember exactly, but I suspect that a lot of what I thought I knew, probably came from Cecil B DeMille. I was so ignorant of what was actually between the covers of the bible that when my AA sponsor Larry B used Deuteronomy 22:5 to convince me of how evil my existence within George’s psyche was, no argument was ever voiced.
In Dear Mom and Dad, I chronicle much of what followed Marilyn’s death in the way of learning the facts of the faith I was professing. In the years immediately following her death I read the bible through word for word four times looking for clues, for a sense of what I was supposed to be doing with the remainder of my life. I can tell you that there was no specific moment of revelation for me. I was getting messages of one kind or the other from everything I read or heard and some of those messages were discouraging.
I have an entire stack of “notes” taken during church services in that time. I tried sorting through them at one point looking for a thread that would lead me to my purpose for living and therefore to my peace. But, instead it seemed as if I was doing was pulling on a string in a never ending knitting project. When I looked back on what I had put together, all I saw was the equivalent of the Gordian Knot. But, unlike Alexander the Great, I wasn’t interested in ruling the world. I just wanted a faith that would let me walk on water. That’s all. Just the ultimate level of faith.
Then one day I was listening to Rush Limbaugh and in his usual intro he said what he frequently said about his mission. “There is no graduation from the Limbaugh Institute of Higher Learning only more education.” Now you would think that I would have figured that out about life as a Christian, but I hadn’t. I was a bit unnerved at first. It seemed as though God had put me on the path of Sisyphus, meaning that I would never succeed in my quest for the ability to walk on water.
It was a slow motion process that eventually led me back to the beginning of my beliefs. At some point which I don’t remember, the nature of faith resurfaced and I realized that for all my talk about faith over the years I had never really understood it … not really. All the words I had read in the bible, while helpful in the learning process, they would never give me a sense of faith.
I eventually found that faith when I learned to approach it from a sense of trust and learned to trust Abba to guide my life. Many people, and I was one of them for much of my life, fear that “turning your life over to the care of God” will mean losing control of it and that personal dreams for one’s life will have to be forfeited. I’ve told the story more times than I care to remember, about how I treated my life like a toy which had directions I never read aboit how to enjoy it. I’m not going to repeat it here but I will briefly repeat the lesson of the mustard seed which Jesus used to illustrate the nature of faith. “It begins as the smallest of seeds and if allowed to grow becomes a sheltering tree.”
At this point in my life I am happy, content, and although not fulfilled, I am fulfilling my life purpose. There is a white board on the wall next to my desk on which long ago I wrote five words. They are FAITH … Belief … TRUST … confidence … assured. In Wm. Paul Young’s “Eve”, Adonai asks Adam a number of times, “Do you trust me?” And therein lies the answer because when Adam came to believe he was alone he didn’t trust Adonai to fix it. As long as he was turned toward God, Adam did not cast a dark shadow. It was only when he turned away that his shadow appeared before him.
Do I trust Abba? Absolutely! Does that quell my impatient nature? Not always. Frequently that part of my being gets the best of me. But when I look back, which as an amateur historian I do often, I realize that all my “God Given” aspirations either have, or are, coming to fruition.
The only thing I have trouble accepting is that not everyone is interested in this gift I would so willingly share, because I have yet to figure out how to get them to hear what I have experienced. I just have to love them and wait for the right moment. In the meantime, I will have to remember that faith has nothing to do with walking on water unless you are walking with Abba. I’ll never do it alone.