I read a book once (and those who know me well, know almost anything significant I want to tell you will start that way) about some of the saints and their experiences with God. At one point, the author asks an Abbot in the catholic church how he had met God in his life. “After . . . embarrassed silence the Abbot admitted he had never had a direct experience of God. Yet, he said, there was nothing surprising about that. God himself said to Moses in the book of Exodus, ‘you cannot see my face.’ But God also taught Moses that he could see God’s back as he passed by, so looking back over his many days, the Abbot could see clearly God passing through his life.
My experience is like that Abbot’s. I had no road to Damascus conversion experience. But looking back over my life I see God’s fingerprints everywhere. He has molded and touched me through people and churches and my life circumstances over and over again.
When I was a child, my family didn’t go to church. However, I was baptized in the Lutheran church when I was three years old. My baptism was due to the influence of my great-grandmother. By the time I knew her she was elderly and did not get out much, but in her younger days she had been a devout Lutheran. I remember being baptized and going to her house afterwards. She asked me if the pastor sprinkled water on my head.
Then when I was in elementary school, a co-worker of my grandmothers’ took me to a Lutheran church with her family. I don’t know why Mrs.Stitely suggested it. She had no children my age; she and my grandmother were not close friends; she had no reason to take me to church other than a desire to see a child get to know Jesus. If she were still alive I would thank her because there I learned the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, Bible stories and Christian songs. Neighbors took me and my siblings to Vacation Bible School each year also.
As a teenager, I stopped going to church regularly and was never confirmed. Now and then I would attend a service, or even go to Luther League meetings because I had school mates who belonged to the church. Eventually, influenced by what I was reading, I decided I was an atheist. Looking back on my behavior I see a relatively obedient teenager trying to shock. In spite of my professed disbelief I continued to attend church sometimes and even read the Bible. I remember daring God to do something to make me believe in Him.
And He did. I said I was done with God but He was not done with me. I went off to college. I was assigned to a roommate based on two things we had in common: we were nonsmokers and undecided about a major. Despite the purely “negative” reasons we ended up together, we are still friends after over forty years. And guess what, Nancy was a serious Christian. She never tried to argue with me about my beliefs. She just became my friend. Nancy has been a big influence on my spiritual life. Other than my husband, she is the first person I go to for prayers, encouragement and spiritual advice. Nancy is one of the greatest blessings God sent to me.
to be continued ….