Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sorry But I Can't Stop Now

Stopping the story where I did left me needing to continue. I do hope you are all reading from the beginning and not will mean so much more done in the right order. I also want you to know that I am not mentioning any names or any locations, and I am not going to go into any personal details. Hopefully the generalities will get the message across without bringing anyone else into my story. This is about Jesus, and what He did for me. What He is still doing for me. Anyone else in this story has their own story to tell if and when they so desire to do so, but I won't do it for them.

The very next incident that impressed itself on my heart was that an angel knocked on my door one day. I didn't know he was an angel until later and in actuality he may be a real human, but in my mind he will always be an angel. Anyway, this guy knocked on my door. We lived out in the country, just on the edge of town, but still in the country. I answered the door to hear him tell me he thought our barn was on fire. I didn't believe him but went outside with him to check. Sure enough there was a thin line of fire on one wall, part of the ceiling and part of the floor that was on fire. I asked him if he could help me because I had puppies in the other side of the barn that needed to be gotten out quickly and I had to go call the fire department. While I made the call, he brought the puppies in the house for me. When I turned around to thank him he was gone. Just like that. His pickup truck was gone. He was gone.
He was the angel. The fire department on the other hand couldn't find our house. I gave them the address and they ended up about 2-3 miles down the road trying to find it. That is 2-3 miles further out of town than we were. They never even drove past our house to get to where they realized they were lost. I am sure it was the smoke spiraling to the sky that alerted them to turn around and head back to town. By the time they got there, the only thing they could do was control the fire so it would not spread to the house and nearby shed.
We were not country folks. We didn't understand the ins and outs of farmers and such. What we found out too late was that the barn was very under-insured and we had no way to rebuild. We didn't need a barn. But the insurance money wasn't even enough to cover building another building for the dog kennel business I wanted to start.

When you were younger, if you are my age now, do you remember a Christian song called "Pass It On"? It starts out..."It only takes a spark to get a fire going, and soon all those around can warm up in its glowing..." So started my faith journey as I have called it now for the past 15 years.

As much as I would like to go on right now, I am going to stop for now. I don't want to make this too hard to read or follow along.

When and How This Journey Started

To be quite honest, I am not truly sure how to go about blogging on this subject, yet I must. I am compelled to tell my story. No, that is wrong. I must tell HIS story, and what HE has done in my life. As you read this, please forgive the stumbling words and pray that the Holy Spirit will clear it all up and help you understand.
The true beginning goes back to my earliest childhood when I loved Sunday School. But I am not going to go back that far here. Aren't you glad? The truth is that even before I really knew anything about Jesus, I somehow knew Him. When I was just entering my freshman year of high school, my neighbor and best friend suggested we talk seriously for a bit. What we talked about changed my life forever, and that could be called the official day this journey began. Yet, I still have one more time in mind when I asked Jesus something without realizing what the consequences of my question would be. Have you ever done that? For instance, have you ever heard that you don't want to ask Him to teach you patience unless you are ready to need patience?
In the early spring of 1993 I was feeling stagnant as far as being a Christian goes. I had felt this way in previous times...times when I would ask the Lord if this was all there was to being a Christian. At this particular time in my life I had just come out of a church that I was beginning to realize might be on the verge of becoming more cultish than Christian, and sad as I was to lose those I had thought of as friends, I knew my spiritual life needed the break from them. Even others around me were warning me that something was not quite right at this church. All of this left me in a sort of spiritual crisis that I needed to find answers. One of the main questions in my heart was "What is faith and how does it relate to trusting God?" One reason was that this church was constantly talking about their faith in Jesus Christ, but after they would proclaim this, they would start praying in ways that was more like they were telling God what to do and how to do it.
Now at this point I have to say that I am a Full Gospel, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Bible-believing Christian. So praying in faith was not something new to me. Seeing results to prayer was not new to me. But by the time I came out of that church I was really getting confused and I needed God to get me back on the right track...or if I was never on the right track, to lead me to it. I know that all the different denominations have their own ways of believing what the Bible says. For me that simply means that they are each on the road they need to be on at the time they are there and are serving God's purpose as parts of the whole Body of Christ. But what my crisis of belief here was, what does it really mean to have faith and to trust Jesus Christ?
You see, at this church, it seemed very clear to me that the people had a kind of faith, but that they did not really trust God with the outcome because after proclaiming their faith, they had to tell God just what to do and how to do it. To me, faith and trust became two separate entities that needed to be sorted out somehow so I could understand if they were indeed different or different sides of the same coin. So, what did I do about my spiritual crisis?
First, I stopped all attendence at any church anywhere. I stopped listening to Christian teaching anywhere whether it be on radio or television or tapes. I also chose not to read anything other than my Bible. I only wanted one Teacher. I was not against any of these things, mind you. I was just not willing to become anymore confused in my quest. From that point and for the next 2 years, I read my Bible and listened to Christian music as long as it didn't interfere with my study and confuse me more. I am not suggesting to anyone that they do what I did. What worked for me may not work for someone else. Our God is very creative and will work in each life as He chooses.
Second, I asked Jesus to teach me to trust Him. I didn't ask Him to teach me more about faith. I had been studying about faith ever since high school. I knew deep down that trust was the bigger issue and I wanted to know I could trust Him. After all, I reasoned, how can you ever have faith in someone if you don't trust him in the first place?
How many of you can guess what happened after I asked Jesus to teach me to trust Him? Let me say this much at this point. The past 15 years have been an adventure I never ever want to go on again, but that I would not trade for anything this world has to offer. As I write this, it dawned on me that it has been pretty much exactly 15 years ago that I asked Him to teach me how to trust Him.
Sorry folks, but you will have to wait until the next post to know what happened next. Just let this one thing "spark" your interest. It has to do with firetrucks.