I had every intention to devote my writing time this summer to completing the story of how I met and married my husband. Ya’ll have been begging for me to finish that cliff hanger, and I certainly desire to do so—it’s been one of the most enjoyable things I’ve written. (I’ve even mapped out all the future chapters and it’s gonna be fun, peoples!)
But there has been another heart tale I’ve been wanting to tell, that corresponds to the one in which Jeremy wins my heart, but starts before that exciting season, and continues well beyond it. I desire to use my blog for God’s glory, and to listen to Him as I choose what to write here, and He has repeatedly put it on my heart to share this next story…the story of His own romancing of my heart, and how I came to know Him as a tender Father, and to understand myself as a beloved daughter, despite all my faults and failures. This story is precious to me, and I feel Him asking me to tell it, not just for you, but for me—for my faith needs to be reminded of all He has done for me.
Let’s start at the beginning.
I was born in Ft. Lauderdale Florida, April 17, 1982. My parents were believers, and their parent’s were believers, and as far back as we can trace, our ancestors have known the Lord. My earliest memories are polka dotted faith-filled activities. We didn’t just go to Church on Sunday. I remember the warm, comforting atmosphere of the home of our small group leaders, playing to the sounds of the adults worshipping–my mother joining in on her guitar with self-taught chords, my dad’s tenor rising above the rest. I remember falling asleep to the murmur as they dug into the Word, and waking just enough to savor the luxury of being carried to the car hours past my normal bedtime.
I remember being woke at 6 am to attend early morning prayer meetings, my older brother and I entertaining ourselves at the back of the Church by crawling around under the towers of stacked chairs, munching on fresh bagels and sipping orange juice mom had bought us on the way. Even at that young age, my parent’s commitment to actively participating in spiritual disciplines and activities, despite the challenge of hauling 3 young children around at all hours of the day and night made an impression on me. I grew up knowing faith was meant to be a lifestyle, not just an activity slotted into 2 hours on Sunday morning.
I was 3 years old on Halloween, 1985, and we’d gone to a theatre our church had rented for the evening to watch a Gospel Bill Video. (My childhood was filled with creative alternatives to traditional Halloween activities—I have yet to go trick-or-treating!) I believe it was more a testimony to the Christian environment I was being nurtured in than my immature faith that I bravely walked the slope down to the front of the theatre at the end of the movie and prayed with one of my mom’s friends to receive Christ. I knew it was the right thing to do.
Now, before you go coveting my multi-generational faith heritage, you must understand that this rich legacy carries a challenge with it—similar to a child born into rich, monetary wealth:
There’s a natural tendency to take it all for granted. To relax into the lap of luxury and not make the effort to take personal responsibility, to take ownership of one’s faith one’s self.
Now, I fully intended that someday, when I grew up, that I’d take my faith seriously and approach God personally myself. But for now, I felt content and safe, letting others support me in my faith. My parents took me to church, led family devotions, taught me from the Word and trained me in biblical principles, and I went along for the ride.
Then I met Sarah.
Sarah had a vibrant, personal faith—a relationship with her God that I thought one had to wait till one was an adult to experience. The joy she found in Christ shone out of her face in a way I’d never seen before. She was different than the average girl, and the difference was a deep, full relationship with her heavenly Father.
And Sarah was just 10.
I met Sarah the summer I was 12, and we became fast friends, which was a good thing, because we had less than a year in which to forge a friendship: the next spring, my family moved 10 hours away to a hill in Upstate NY.
Except for a too-short visit from their family that summer, it was 8 years before I saw her again, yet I credit Sarah’s love for Jesus as one of the things that kept my faith from fizzling out through my teens. Through too many years of misunderstanding my role in my walk with God, too many years in which I felt like I had to carry my faith, rather than resting in a faith that carried me, Sarah’s joy in the Lord kept me pressing on, determined to find what she had.
I read my Bible daily. I journaled prayers and scriptures that stood out to me. I tried to pray faithfully. At times I felt like I had heard from God, yet there was something missing. I knew this because, despite the richness of my spiritual heritage, and the security I felt in my standing before God, there was lacking a passion to share what I had with others. In fact, when I looked at missionaries or those bold enough to speak of Christ to anyone around them, I wondered at what drove them. For I could not imagine sharing what I had with others…this faith I owned, while assuring me of eternal salvation, was long road to walk, with wearisome spiritual disciplines, and oh, so much room for failure.
I had not yet tasted the joy of my salvation.
And yet, a day was coming. My Father was planning and preparing for a day in which He would make himself known to me with incomprehensible love, a day in which I would begin to understand the true nature of the relationship He wanted to have with me.
And once again, Sarah would play a key role.
Part 2…I Pharisee