This past Sunday, when I walked into church, I thought to myself, this is my church. To most people, that probably sounds weird, but it’s a bit of a significant step for me. Even more significant was, that after the service, I felt that way even more. I wrote a post a while back about how our family started going to a new church after a lifetime of attending at what I believe I’ll always feel is my “home” church. It’s hard to go from attending church where you know practically everyone in your church family, even if not necessarily by name, to going to where you only know just a handful of people. But I’m trying to learn names and reach out to other people there. And I want to get involved in some of the groups they have. I’m finding it’s not as easy as when we had small children to get us involved.
In any event, Sunrise, the new church we’ve been going to, is more contemporary than the church I grew up in. While that’s been an adjustment, it’s also been good to experience new ways of doing things. (Don’t laugh, but since the words are projected on a screen in front, and I’m so used to holding a hymnal book, I don’t know what to do with my hands when we sing! I end up tapping the chair ahead of me. I know, I know—it’s the little things.) At Sunrise, messages are organized into themed-series. We just started a series at the beginning of the year called, I Am Second. Each week during the message there are testimonials from people—some more famous than others—that tell how they came to the decision to make God first in their lives. You can see several of them online at www.IAmSecond.com.
I love hearing people tell their faith stories. Mostly because I never thought I had one. Last week, there was a video of a Christian radio personality named Brant Hansen. I had not heard of him before, but he talked about how the challenges in his life have always been a way for God to work through his weaknesses. The pastor tied this into how we view ourselves and how this self-perception is a reflection of how we think the world sees us. He then related it to Psalm 139. This is the Psalm where David acknowledges God’s intimate knowledge of him and how he was a creation—a perfect creation—of God. We were encouraged to take a look at our lives and see what it is that we haven’t done based on our own self-perceived (human) limitations. Very thought provoking.
My faith journey has never been a straight path. It has a lot of backtracking and zig zags. I try to live a life that God would approve of, but I don’t necessarily wear my faith on my sleeve. I am far from perfect. In short, I still have a long way to go!
I grew up going to church almost every Sunday. I can’t remember not having God in my life. I do remember when I was about eight years old I went to something at a church with my friend where they had an altar call. I went down because I thought it was cool. I already know Jesus, I remember thinking. I didn’t go to church there, and I figured since they didn’t know me, if I didn’t go down there they’d think I was a heathen. I said a prayer they told me to say and felt that I was golden with a guaranteed ticket to heaven. Looking back, I can definitely relate to something Brant Hansen said in his video. He said that he decided (as a kid) to believe in Jesus because he didn’t want to go to Hell, but didn’t really have a relationship with Him. Uh, yeah.
I’m used to hearing people tell tremendous faith stories of transformation, usually after adversity. They tend to have one defining moment where they reached out to Jesus and at that point never looked back. I think I never had “a” faith story because I compared my life to others. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that instead I have chapters, because my story isn’t finished yet. Along the way, I’ve lived out several faith stories. I have to recommit to Christ daily—to remind myself to whom I belong. And while I’ve not had a single, “lightbulb moment” in my faith, this daily watering of a single seed has grown some seriously deep roots.
I want to share with you one tiny faith story from my personal faith version of “Canterbury Tales”: I procrastinated writing this post because I kept tossing around the idea of a person’s faith story. I wanted to tie in self-doubt and identity struggles, because they are a featured player in so many of my life’s chapters. I’d start and not finish. I’d delete and go in a different direction. The post almost ended up in the “yeah, it was a great idea, but now what do I do with it?” pile. I know God is up there laughing because the longer I cast it aside, the more He got in my face about writing it. Songs on the radio. Conversations with co-workers. Even Facebook posts from friends. Every whispered, “Write it!” gathered together into a loud, collective shout. Today, it was song lyrics from Casting Crowns’ song, “The Voice of Truth” that became the catalyst for putting thoughts on paper:
But the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I’ve tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. “Boy, you’ll never win!”
“You’ll never win!”
But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid!”
The voice of truth says, “This is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth
If I didn’t at least try to write this post, I was letting those waves win. And ignoring the voice of truth—which definitely doesn’t make for a good faith story. So I looked up those lyrics, and I even saw a You Tube video where I learned the story behind this song. I closed my eyes and opened up my heart, and the words came.
Profound? Maybe a little. Life-changing? Not exactly, but one more brick in the wall of my faith. And another chapter to My Story, unfinished as it is.