I was inspired by Linda's Promise post to share a bit of my journey and also the stereo whispers are getting louder from Dubby and Jo. This is such an encouraging group of writers that we meet in a message thread (or two...) and some of our exchanges actually make it out to the open air of this blog.
HopeHealing is always around when you know someone cares....even distant 'someones'. I remember my mom waiting with all of my family for my dad (on his 3rd heart bypass operation). He had gone in weak, and we were so afraid for him...we held hands in a circle in the waiting room and just said silent prayers to ourselves - nothing vocal. We were so 'internalized' - then, a lady walked alone into the room. I was the only one that noticed her as she looked straight at the back wall and headed for an isolated spot - EXTREMELY upset, sobbing and crying as quietly as a heaving kind of sob can be. I was stunned between feeling lucky that I had my family with me, yet feeling so much for this lady all by herself - she was probably in her 50's. I elbowed my mom, and I swear the instant my mom saw her she simultaneously stood straight up and hurriedly walked to catch up with her. I was still - as if on Phaser Stun mode, and a thought crept in - 'what is my mom going to SAY to this lady?'. I saw them speak for a bit, then my mom returned with a gentle smile. She had merely given this lady hope....that is all. Hope...after hearing that the ladies husband was in a serious operation my mom had merely said, 'well, he hasn't died yet has he?' the relief in that ladies whole essence started to unfold...she could cope with the help of hope. It was a simple, quick conversation that healed....someone cared...someone gave hope....we each have in us that gift we can give each other.
Faith forever...I did NOTHING to earn it, did not even seek it and spent most of my childhood running away from anything that couldn't be proven in front of my eyes today - visible at this moment. I grew up in a family that went to church every Sunday - and I noticed that I could skip much of this by joining the choir. I started out memorizing all of the things I needed to progress in church, such as the books of the bible, and would pray for things I felt other people wanted - a better car, a better job, etc. However, I never felt the connection between the rituals and the meaning. For instance I knew that the wafer of bread and wine were representations of the bible events - but ritual was just that - a thing to do every year. I can't say that I even tried to place a meaning on them - and I will spare you all the arguments I used that I thought were logical.
Fast forward to about 6 or 7 years ago - I found a coworker, Teresa to car pool with on the 55 minute drive to work. The very first thing she said when she got in the car was, 'I HAVE to listen to my favorite reverend!'. I gulped thinking...I am NOT going to like this (imagining Garner Ted and rantings), but I can do this... her program is in the morning, and I said 'I HAVE to listen to Dr. Laura in the afternoon!' and we struck a deal. Now, the ride to work was very early - we had to be at work by 6am. She turned the radio on Walk In the Word, and I started to shrink in my seat as I heard the compassion of James MacDonald's booming voice....I was almost embarrassed for him at first....but then I listened. He started making sense...he brought in background period information, he never talked DOWN to people and he constantly gave reference verses...faster than I could keep up while driving - believe me I would check them out. I found myself understanding....UNDERSTANDING. Teresa told me to start in the New Testament - that basically the Old Testament was history (later she told me that reading the Old Testament really gave her a feel for God's heart). The New Testament is the one that gives us Jesus, and I knew that but hadn't grasped the meaning of the difference. I had previously gotten lost in the begat, begat, begat part of the Old Testament without really understanding that it was leading up to the lineage of Jesus.
Between the 'Rev in the Morning' and Dr. Laura we struck up a wonderful friendship and I went out to buy my first bible. I was overwhelmed by the rows and rows of options, but remembered that the NIV was one of a handful that James MacDonald mentioned. I chose a study bible version of the NIV because half of each page is chock-full of archeological findings, history notes, and when the verse is not well understood the study bible version gives you the top 3 or so interpretations adding the background to each. I would like to say that I have read everything in the bible - but no - I listened to people I trusted, and then looked up the passages and interpretations in my study bible. Why is it when God writes a book (as MacDonald uses for a title), and I can't seem to find the time in my little life to READ it??! It's only been around - how many thousands of years, and pretty much unchanged (7 words mostly in spelling have changed in that entire time from the book of Isiah - they checked today's version with the Dead Sea scroll version).
It didn't come instantly, but I sure felt the difference between one day questioning (as we are encouraged to do) and eventually - I had to be honest with myself - knowing that I had the gift of faith in Jesus and the bible. Conviction is probably a better word than 'had'...it is as if I always knew this, like knowing what the color green looks like. I would like to say that I have since learned not to sin - only now I am aware of how easy it is to sin - such as the hurt careless words can cause, and I am also aware that God knows we are incapable of being sinless....'no not one'. That is why we need Jesus to truck us over to the other side....we are all in one boat headed for the other shore, dancing and enjoying life - making good and bad choices, hurting and healing each other - but this boat is going to dock on the other side and our bodies will die no matter what we do.
Listen - he will probably embarrass you too at first, but if you make it to the end tell me if it touched you in a positive way.
Here is a Walk In the Word Podcast.