As I have mentioned before a few times, I was brought up going to church. There was only a small stretch in my life, that I can remember, while still living at home that we, as a family, did not attend mass each Sunday. I was raised Roman Catholic and with that came the predictability of what to expect during each service, the Sacraments, knowing that I “needed” to go to confession regularly (but rarely did until guilted into it), and going to Sunday school…or CCD as it was called on base.
I learned stories from the bible. I even tried to have a relationship with Jesus when I was a teenager but didn’t really feel connected with him. I sponsored a friend during his Confirmation and I sponsored a friend/new convert as she went through RCIA. I volunteered regularly with church functions like the giving tree and the food pantry when the holiday season came around (which I LOVED doing). I had church friends, I sang in the church choir since I was about 5 or 6 and even played on the church softball team for a stint. (I am probably the least coordinated person in the world when it comes to sports….and I DON’T run! Except from spiders.)
I even worked part time for the church for a couple years helping the accountant and filling in for my mom on occasion, who was the church Administrative assistant. I was an aid in the class rooms and helped with VBS. I considered myself a very active person in the church…only spiritually I wasn’t very active. Actually, I was pretty stagnant. Mostly because, I believe, the teachings that were put before me. I had to do good deeds and acts in order to gain God’s good graces. (“Brownie points” as I called them.) I also needed to repent of all of my sins in order to get into heaven. However, here’s the funny part…I was also taught that there were certain sins that God would not overlook. “Mortal sins.” Well, if that were the case then I was destined for hell. I wasn’t even technically “allowed” to participate in the mass due to some of my sins. I confessed my sins to a priest/chaplain many times and he tried to assure me that, as long as I no longer committed those sins, then I would probably be ok. I still wasn’t “sold” on it though.
I didn’t have an open line of communication with God. We hardly talked, except when I would send out a desperate plea for something to go like I wanted it to. You know, the usuals…”Please, let me have ____!” “Just get me through this and I’ll ____.” God was just this lottery machine that I would tug at his ear now and then and see where the slots landed.
Over this past year my relationship with Him and with Christ has been a huge blessing because they are now as real to me as my own husband or my parents or a dear friend that I can go to and talk with. The knowledge that I am gaining from their word and their promises, from the history of others who have faced troubles and were blessed by God, and from being able to see Him working in my own life is what has made all the difference from the relationship I had with Him growing up and now.
Knowing that because I believe in all that Jesus did for me and I want so much to walk in His footsteps, I have a place in heaven waiting for me. It was always there…I just had to take that step of faith. Knowing that 2,000 years ago, when that veil was torn in two, I was granted DIRECT access to God and did not have to depend on church leaders to speak in my place or grant me pardon. That good deeds are not required, but rather something that should naturally come because of the new heart you have. The heart of Christ and a heart for God’s people. A desire to give God glory for the goodness He has blessed you with…the blessing of being His child!
I have prayed from the heart (not memorized prayers written by someone else) more this past year than I had in the 35 years prior. I have opened my bible more in this past month alone than I did in a span of 5 years growing up. I look forward to going to church because of the opportunity I get to learn more of God and of the people He used to teach us in the bible. There’s no question as to whether or not I’m “allowed” to participate. I have an amazing support system at our church and am enjoying serving again wherever I am needed. (I really like volunteering!) Our kids love going to church and being with friends and learning about Jesus, and they too are learning how to pray from the heart and I can see them maturing in their own walks. It’s just amazing what the difference it has been for me!
We each have our own walks with Christ and we each form a relationship with God in our own ways, with our own church bodies and in our own time (or, rather, HIS own time). The biggest thing that will change your walk, though, is when you live your life with Him close by. We hear it all the time. A good relationship depends on good communication. It’s no different with your spiritual (and eternal) relationship! Seek truth, seek wisdom and seek Him! See for yourself what a difference it will make in your own life!Tags: Faith walk, God, Growth, Jesus, Salvation, Spirituality
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