Life Stories (221)
Most of my life, I've taken Christ for granted. I grew up in a Christian home, well taught, well grounded; it never occurred to me to really think about my faith. But really, what child thinks about these things?
It wasn't until I was 16 that I was really self-conscious enough to straighten up and look at my life, and realized that even though I thought I was a Christian, I most certainly wasn't living like one. I sat down and thought long and hard about the future I wanted for myself; I had all sorts of dreams, but looking at my life, I was going the wrong way.
Although I was raised in a fairly dysfunctional military family, the Lord had His hand on my life and I was loved and nurtured into the family of God through the guidance of the Anglican priest whose church I attended. At 8 years of age I sensed God's calling on my life. As a teenager, I loved the experience of being the chief server for four bishops.
When I met the girl who would become my wife, I was introduced to the evangelical church life and made a commitment to love and follow as He led me into full-time service. I entered the Booth Memorial College for Officers with Alberta and we went on to serve as pastors for many years through a variety of vehicles.
Being raised in a Christian home made me of course, as a child, a "follower". Then, like most young teens I didn't want to be "different" and so I evolved into a "follower" of a different crowd. I loved fashion and style and art and music and looked forward to blending in with the fashionable crowd.
As a Sunday School girl, I grew in knowledge but as a teen at a Youth for Christ Rally, I grew in wisdom as I made a personal heart-felt commitment to Christ. I really did want to serve Him.
I have attended and been part of church all my life. I was guided by fantastic, encouraging, energetic loving parents who led by example. We attended a Barrymore Crusade and it was clear to me I needed to make this choice for myself, and I accepted Christ into my life. Not long after, I was baptised.
Not much changed, as life was church and we seemed to be there at least four times a week. My Dad was involved in leadership at the church and as his children, it was assumed we knew the answers to any question asked. It was head knowledge only.
I knew God had a plan for my life but wasn’t sure what it was, so I lived day by day and followed the example of my parents. Our pastor was really interested in youth. I still remember the sermon series that was SFTL. Special For The Lord. This was when heart knowledge began to grow and life was different and exciting. I saw Pastor Harris a few years ago, and the first thing he said to me was, are you still SFTL?
Well, I am on my way to Heaven. When I was a lad my family changed churches. The new church emphasized a time and date for each testimony. I knew I was saved but could not give a specific time and date. Doubt crept in. I went to basic youth conflict and they stated that childhood conversion could be a problem and why not set today’s date as a mark in the sand.
This solved the doubt problem. Another stumbling block was that I had been baptized as an infant. I held on to the belief of one baptism, one Lord, one faith and so felt I could not be baptized again. It was explained that the verse meant the only baptism that counts is in Christ. I like what the NIV version states in 1 Peter 3:21 “and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also – not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone to heaven.” So therefore I was baptised a second time at the age of 24.
Another lesson I had to learn and continually re-learn is that God is first. Early on in my marriage our infant son was in deep pain. We rushed him to the doctors and the hospital but no problems could be found. The first thoughts that came to mind was that he was going to die. We thought of all the things he and we would miss out on. His pain only went away when we thought about all the happiness God had given to us by his life. Continually re-learning my father in law’s favourite verse of Matthew 6:33 “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Verse 34 states “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring it own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” I like verses that give direction.
I often think what my life would be like without God’s presence in it. Who would I show gratitude to for the abundant blessings? Who would I run to when people let me down and friends turn away?
One of the things I am most grateful for is that I never had to experience life without God’s love. Being raised in a Christian home, I was aware of His presence at an early age. I prayed with my parents when I was 6 to let Jesus “live in my heart.” I didn’t know back then the power of those words and the endless love He had yet to show me. Going to a local Christian school and church, I was blessed to be surrounded with great mentors and friends.
When I entered middle and high school, solid relationships with my friends started shifting. I could no longer rely on others to explain the ‘why’ of Christianity. I started that inevitable search for truth and began to challenge the personal reasons behind my faith. I found that the more I searched for answers, the more they pointed to God.
I grew up with a sense of calling but not knowing what a “call” from God was.
I attended church as a child and youth, feeling close to God but feeling somewhat incomplete. I wanted more in my relationship with God but had not heard about having a personal relationship with Christ.
As a married thirty-year-old father of two, I was given the opportunity to invite Jesus into my life and take it over.
At that point, everything changed. I now knew a new way of living and seeing the world through Christ’s eyes. Two years later, I had a Holy Spirit encounter that went beyond my confession of Christ and confirmed this sense of call from childhood that has taken my on journey of Ordained Ministry, Itinerant Consulting and now mentor and pastor to Pastors.
I have always somewhat envied people that had these dramatic conversion stories. Although, I can never remember not knowing there was a God, my real walk with Christ began in a way I would consider rather quiet and undramatic: Simon Fraser University, about 42 years ago, in a library stairwell, having a Campus Crusade guy walk me through a small booklet called the 4 spiritual laws. Do I remember them? No, but I remember the small line drawing of a throne and the question, who is on the throne of your life? It seemed so logical to put Jesus there!
And so, a girl who was poorly brought up catholic, had lost her vibrant mother to alcoholism at 7 and learned to drive by visiting her dad in prison for tax evasion, found herself smack in the middle of God's story. I remember the beginning of a joy, that never has never left me and I also remember failing my only paper in University, in philosophy, on the existence of God. Obviously, my heart was too full of God to make much head sense within in the boundaries set up by Philosophy.
I became a Christian at a very young age. I believe that I was eight years old. I have lived in a solid Christian home - despite having going through my parents divorcing and living in a blended Christian family.
I was baptized in my Church when I was thirteen when I decided to make my Christian walk my own. Because I was so young when I received Christ, it is hard for me to compare to how my life would be different without Him.
Christ has always been a central part of my life and in the last ten years Christ has become more alive in me, specifically after attending a Wild at Heart Boot Camp at Rockridge Canyon.
I was blessed to be born into a long-time Christian heritage. So, as far back as I can remember, I started a basic relationship with God. I would say that the point I chose to really make a commitment to Him was when I was 10 at Circle Square Ranch during summer camp.
My life has been a journey of coming to know God better and, consequently, Him molding and shaping me in the process. I can’t really say I ever had times of rebellion or doubt about who God is and who He is in my life.
The seasons in life that have been more challenging have always turned me to Him. And, I’ve discovered the more I learn and grow the more I see how much further there is to go.
To be honest, I can’t say I have a favorite verse or even a favorite book. Perhaps the passage that stands out the most to me at the moment is not one that people would commonly use, but I think it speaks to the way God wired me and how He reveals to me His power, beauty and love to me.