Last Sunday, January 29th, was the 46th anniversary of my public profession of faith in Jesus Christ. I was 8 years old at the time.
I remember the day like it was yesterday. It was a Sunday. There was snow on the ground in the large housing plat I lived in outside of my hometown Dayton, Ohio.
My father, was the scout master of the Boy Scout troop at the church and he was gone on a winter camp out! My mother and my father’s mother were present with me in church that day.
I do not remember the sermon at all. But I remember we sang ‘Amazing Grace’ as the final hymn that day.
And, while my parents, and my grandmother were devout followers of Christ and served the church faithfully and, as a result, I was in church since I was born (and really, hee-hee, before I was born, too!) it was not until that moment when the Holy Spirit spoke to me in a way that I clearly understood as an eight year old, that I came into the Kingdom of God.
It was a profound and emotional moment for me but I knew that I was born again. I had been awakened to this new life in Christ.
I started following…
Fast forward about 7 years…
It was a revival service to remember. I was fifteen. I was still in church. I was not “rebelling” outwardly (that would come later in life). But internally my attitude toward God was slowly hardening. I started to develop a ‘swagger,’ the kind teen boys develop at a certain point in adolescence.
And that night, after the final altar call, I was Jacob.
I had been caught by Spirit. I was wrestling with God.
Nearly dragging one of the men from the church down the aisle, I renewed by commitment to God. I softened my heart to His leading and grace. It was one of course adjustments that I was to make. And High School, while not easy at times, was a time of deepening my faith and not resisting it.
I still followed…
Fighting the Dark Side…
Now go with me about 15 years ahead.
It is a period that I would soon forget.
Words of hurt. Words spoken in anger. A raging and vengeful spirit had me by the throat. I had wounded people.
I was held accountable. I went to face those who I had directly and indirectly wounded. I remember the drive there. It was all I could do to get there. I wanted to turn around, call them, and say, “I’m sorry for everything. I wish you well.” But to follow Jesus meant I had to face the music.
Grace and forgiveness came. Reconciliation was acheived.
God was honored!
I was the prodigal who followed the way back home to the Father…
The four years later…
Losing a job is not easy. It was my worst fear and it had come true.
It was a layoff of the permanent kind and to stand in the unemployment line was a discouraging experience.
But, a door to ministry reopened on the heels of seeming defeat.
And I knew that God had opened that door and it was His will for me to return to what He had called me to do even when I said, “I do not want to go back into it!”
I kept following.
Eight years later…
It was a restlessness that would not go away.
I had to ‘put my name out there’ because it was time to go, to move on. It was God’s stirring and I was restless till I said okay.
But it was a time of getting there…
A period of how many minutes at an altar nearly spread eagled on the altar rail in moments that cannot be described.
A fire that wipes out the church building, and your office.
Wrestling with the feeling of abandoning a group of people you walked through, literally, the fire with but hearing, “sometimes the right thing to do is the hardest thing to do.”
And moving to the place I call home!
Continuing to follow… one step at a time..
These are my Thursday thoughts…