i feel incredibly lucky that in all the sin i have done and endured, that God has not forsaken me, but instead has led me to this wonderful house of worship.
my faith has always been there. i didn't grow up in a church-going household. there wasn't a lack of faith, just a lack of scheduled church time. my parents chose not to have us baptized when we were babies, as they wanted us to choose what religion or faith we wanted to follow. but we were raised christian. christmas was the most important holiday, and there were always prayers with meals and bedtimes.
i chose to be baptized when i was 18. i was baptized in a nazarene church, and this was the church that i attended with my grandmother. we went, on most sundays, in grandma's car with the radio playing country music. it was a very small church...not even having enough room for a central aisle. there were perhaps twelve pews, and the majority of the members were older than my grandmother. but it was a cozy house to worship in, and i remember being impressed with the theatrics of it all.
when i was in college, i attended sherman oaks christian church. this was a church i became involved with through a lady i worked with while i was working as a work-study at the office of the registrar at IU. i really liked socc, but communion was sort of...unimportant. well, it was important, and i suspect it was logistical, but the communion was passed throughout the congregation, as was the wine. there wasn't a presentation at the altar. the congregation at any given service was close to 500 people, and there were three services every sunday. so i understand the logistics of that...but to me, communion is meant to be presented directly from the ordained person. that's just my view on it.
during medical school, and residency, i didn't attend church. i made the excuse that i couldn't find one that i liked, but truthfully, i didn't feel i had time. i was selfish. i thought that i had enough commitments that i didn't want to dedicate more of my time to being away from my home/family/studies/whatever. so i didn't go. this was during the time of my mother's illness, and jay and i's difficulties.
i became very angry with God. i still don't know if that's okay for me to have done, but i did. i wondered why he took my mother away from me. why did he do that? she was a good and decent person, and i DESERVED to have her here with me. again...selfish. completely! but why was i being stripped of the chance to have her see me get married, have children, graduate medical school, give my children horseback rides, make cookies with them, read them bedtime stories. why me?!? why her?!? why then?!?
i didn't want to go to church. i knew, at that time, as i do now, that i won't know the answers until i meet Him, which will come in His time. my tiny human brain is not advanced enough to understand His timing or His intentions, nor do i really sit in a position to ask those questions. but that was something that it took me a long time to come to.
a friend of mine was attending a contemporary service of emanuel. her name is danielle, and she was also the babysitter/child care provider for my kids after i had dade. by then i was halfway through residency. i still wasn't ready to go, for whatever excuse i made to myself.
eventually, though, i went. and the very first service, pastor stecker made reference to one of my dad's favorite verses in the bible...matthew 6:28..."consider the lilies of the field. they toil not, nor do they spin. yet even solomon in all his glory was not adorned such as they."
how could it have been planned more perfectly if not for the Holy Spirit moving me to that service, that day, at that time? how truly great is He?
i was hooked, completely. i arranged to meet with pastor stecker, talk with him about my questions, about my faith, about my spiritual life. i attended service as often as i could. i even went to midweek service, since this was during lent. i began to see that instead of questioning, maybe the things that i went through were meant to teach me something...about myself, my faith, my blessings. instead of counting the ways in which He failed me, i began to count the ways that i was failing Him, and how no matter how much i failed Him, He was still always there. like a parent loves their child without end, so He loved me. He never left me, and He had never forsaken me. and while my mother won't have the opportunity to hold my children in her arms on earth, she will when we meet again in His presence. what a truly awesome concept.
because of this, we send piper to central lutheran school, which is affiliated with emanuel. there, she gets not only a Christ-centered education, but she has a love and knowledge of God and Jesus that i am only beginning to understand as an adult. she understands the triune nature of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit better than my adult and logical brain can wrap itself around. she knows the Lord's Prayer. she reminds me to pray at meals. it is amazing to see her flourish this way.
perhaps, this was all part of His plan. well, i know it is, but the "perhaps" comes from my feeble human mind. i truly hope that someday i can chat with Him about my journey to Him and with Him. and while i know that my faith and my spirituality is not right for everyone, nor would i push it on anyone, i know it is right for me. and i know that i am truly blessed to feel so at home in Him.