Every since I can remember, I had believed in the existence of God and His Son. At a few points in my life I even had interactions with God. However, I would not have termed myself Christian. That seemed to come many years later after I had prayed the sinner’s prayer. But I’ll tell you my history and leave it up to you to determine whether I was or was not. I, myself, do not believe it was so.
As far as I’m concerned I was raised in a secular household. There was no prayer, church attendance or even mention of God that I can remember. I do remember going to vacation bible school once when I was six or seven, but that was with a neighbor. On the flip side, all three of us children were named after people in the Bible. When I asked my mom about it she said she was raised in a religious home. In her time religion played a much larger part in everyday life. Mom can still remember her mother singing hymns along with the radio while she cleaned the house. I imagine my dad was brought up in much the same environment. It was that upbringing that they must have fell back on when it came time to name their children. While I think that I always had an awareness that God existed until the time preceding my conversion in my 40’s there were only three times that I can remember having actual interactions with God.
The first was when I was nine or ten years old and I was walking home alone after dark. For some reason I was scared, though I don’t remember the source of that fear. The next thing I know a pack of seven or eight small dogs joined me on my walk. They were happy little fellows and comforted me much. They stayed with me until I made it home. I can remember at the time believing God had sent them to me, although I don’t know why I thought that. The next interaction didn’t come until I was in my teens.
At that time, I started hanging around an older cousin who was head over heels in love with Lord Jesus. This was very infectious and led me to start reading the Bible every night before I went to bed. In the beginning, after reading it I would go to sleep with warmth inside of me. That lasted until either I was scandalized by some of the Biblical people’s behavior or I got to Leviticus. I think it was a mixture of the two that ended it for me. The next interaction came in my 20s and wasn’t quite so pleasant.
I guess I was being a punk and God wasn’t going to have it. What you have to understand is that I wasn’t all sweetness and light. I challenged authority figures and could be very cutting, so if I was out of line, then I was way out of line. I don’t remember the event that straightened me out, but I do remember afterwards feeling as if someone walked up to me and punched me in the gut. Along with that feeling came the very certain knowledge that it was from God and I was to cease and desist in that behavior. I did.
Now some may say that God doesn’t do things like that. To that I say, that they are probably right in that is not God’s normal mode of reaching people. However, God is perfect in all of His ways and if He chose that way, then that was the best or only way that was going to be effective. Personally, I’m thankful God straightened me out. I would hate to have continued on is so obnoxious a manner. I shudder at thinking what type of person I would have become, if I had been allowed to continue in behavior that God found so offending.
That pretty much sums it up. Not much over forty years. So was I a Christian or even have faith? I don’t think so, but it may have been just that tiny mustard seed germinating all of those years until God decided it was time to sprout. That’s for next time.
May we all experience the love of God. God bless!
Update: Fr. Dominic Legge, O.P. gave an excellent lecture on faith: “Is Faith Irrational – Thomas Aquinas on the rationality of belief”. This lecture showed up my podcast list a few days after I had written this. It seems I did have faith, but it would be considered either dead or unformed. The discussion regarding unformed or dead faith starts at about 50:49 in the lecture, but the entire thing is worth a listen.
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