Sunday, February 22, 2015

Letters to a friend

I wrote  a series of letters to a friend who asked me about my belief system and my faith in Jesus Christ. He was going through hard times and knowing that I had been through similar experienceswondered how I kept my positive attitude and remain peaceful in spite of circumstances.
And posting them to preserve them for myself to share a bit of my faith with anyone who would care to read them.

#1 The Beginning.  

On a hot summer night, on vacation with family in Iowa, of all places, Billy Graham asked those responding to his altar call out in TV land to stand up and put their hand on the television set and he would pray. I felt silly, but went ahead and wondered if this small act would secure my place in heaven.  I was probably 12 or 13 years old.  An act forgotten by the next morning. Years later, we met some folks that shared a similar "mother earth news" lifestyle, and became friends, I was initially skeptical, seeing a bookshelf full of Bibles and other books that led me to label them Jesus Freaks. I remember saying, " i like them fine,as long as they don't lay that stuff on me".  
Our friendships grew, and we spent some fun Friday nights at the little country church down the road, watching family friendly movies and eating popcorn. There were no movie theaters within fifty miles of little Shoestring Valley in Western Washington.  We saw comedies and classics, like Swiss Family Robinson. 
One particular night, the film was a fictional account of the Rapture and ensuing events, like planes crashing and important politicians
 missing.  Quite an eye opener, since I had never heard of this Rapture business.  It seemed pretty far fetched at the time, but the discussion backed it with Biblical chapter and verse, and our friends all seemed to believe it to be so.  My thought was, what if they're right??  The movie had ended with a prayer, similar to the one ol' Billy had prayed years before, and on the way home in the car, I said That little prayer to myself....."Lord Jesus, forgive me of my sins,and come into my heart and life.....I accept your gift of salvation, provided for me by your sacrifice on the cross."    Well, no lightning bolt or harp music, so I figured I got it wrong.  I tried it again, remembering as many of the words and phrases as I could..... Still nothing.  At that point, the kids were fighting in the back seat,and I had to threaten them with dismemberment or extra chores, and forgot all about the Rapture, God, and  my little prayer.  
The next day, as I was cleaning and vacuuming, I became aware of a smile on my face,  joy in my heart,  and a peace I couldn't explain.  The grass and trees were greener, the sky bluer, the day brighter.  I know now, it was because I was seeing with new eyes, I was renewed, reborn, if you will.... And didn't have a clue!
My faith has become a part of me. I trust God's word completely, and am sure of His love and His grace.  I'm not churchy, like to go to the local evangelical church on occasionally, and sometimes a little Catholic parish, and sometimes Cowboy church.  But, it isn't about church, it's about a personal, real relationship with Jesus Christ.  
There are so many things I could say, but it boils down to answered prayer, miracles, guidance, and correction ;  a real presence as I walk this road.  Whatever comes my way,  Gods grace is sufficient.  I have buried four children, my marriage ended because of Michael's terrible illness, multiple sclerosis kicks my butt,  and we have the day to day stresses and problems that everyone else has. There are days that I am angry, depressed, sad, or bitter, even then I am  aware of His comfort and care.  
I picture God as a  loving father, the Abba of the Bedouin camps..... This is how He describes himself, to give us something to relate to.  Those Bedouin lords were responsible for all in their tents ......wives, children, servants, stockmen, and livestock. Children ran to him with joy, never fear,  and he held them on his lap and loved them for who they were.  This is the image our God wants us to have of Him and his deep, unconditional love for each of us.  
This is the story of the beginnings of my faith.  It continues to grow, I continue to grow, as well. I'm not perfect, but a work in progress.  I can't imagine life without this lamp to light the way.  
I know that I am assured a place in Heaven, and that no matter how far I might stray in this life, that as soon as I turn toward Him, my sins are wiped away, and I run to His arms and jump into His lap..... he gives me a noogie, laughs, and tells me that I am His favorite black sheep.   

Stay tuned.......

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