I have been a Christian my entire life. I was raised in the Southern Baptist church and made to go without choice until I was 18 years old. I sat and listened but never fully absorbed what was going on. I was baptized when I was 8 years old at Hickory Hill Missionary Baptist Church. I knew the names of key figures like Noah and David and Goliath but the messages didn’t make it far into my memory or consciousnesses. Talking about Jesus and the Bible was like me talking about country music – it wasn’t happening and I had no information to call upon.
I went through my college and early adult years like many do – doing what I wanted when I wanted and rarely setting foot in church even on Easter or Christmas (an E and C Christian). I have always had friends and family and love but something was always missing. I have had hard times along the way but so many blessings too.
Everything has changed recently. The pre-marital counseling that Becky and I went through with the wonderful Mike Wakefield was life-changing. It strengthened our relationship in ways that we could never have dreamed and I will personally be in his debt the rest of my life. It’s funny what you remember and what you don’t and his words and presence during our sessions echo in my head sometimes.
Becky and I began going to church regularly and split time between Lutheran and Baptist churches. A problem we still have is that we haven’t moved to our new house so settling down somewhere in a final church home is very unlikely. Nonetheless, we connected with the people and the communities and became pretty regular churchgoers. We also joined separate men’s and women’s bible study groups to fellowship with others (a first for me). We both made new friends and confidants that were outside of our normal group. The Kirkendall’s have been inspirations there.
I could feel something working within me, especially while singing the songs. I have always believed in God and Jesus and a higher power. I just believed it in my core but I had no idea what made people get “the spirit” and you can never really know what another person is feeling as they go through their own faith walk. The problem was that everytime I would get to where I was close to where I thought I needed to be, something would come up. We’d get really busy, something about the house would break and would require time or we’d be so busy traveling and visiting people that I lost where I was. Still a vast improvement from where I started with but a setback nonetheless.
I am writing this because I feel like 2014 is the year this all changes. I asked God for more peace and happiness this year. I’ve dealt with minor depression at times but I wouldn’t consider myself an unhappy person. But I do tend to focus on the negative at times and linger on it more than I should. Becky got me a storybook bible this Christmas – it has a CD and a book. These last few weeks listening to and reading this material has been transformative. I’m not speaking in tongues or anything but the words feel real and the message is crystal clear. I KNOW Jesus loves me. I know I have a wife who supports me in every faith of my life and our marriage grows in strength EVERY SINGLE DAY. And I know information that I can share with others. In church this morning, I could feel God’s love. When I feel “touched”, my body tingles- it’s like when you get chill bumps on your body but with this, there’s no explanation (the church pays their heating bills!). It’s happening more and more and I love every bit of it. I’m not sure where I’ll end up but I am a better man for it already. And I know it’ll make me a better father, husband, friend, co-worker, brother, son…EVERYTHING
I just wanted to put this down on paper…for maybe others to look at and gather insight on. And to thank some very special people for being with me along the way. And thank you to God for deeming us worthy of saving.