I can still hear my Grandpa Jack's voice saying, "Raise him up in the way of the Lord and he will not soon depart." He'd say it with that little smirk he had and his eyes would sparkle just a little.
It might take him (or her) more than a decade to stop and pay attention, but, I am learning that my Grandpa Jack knew what he was saying--he wasn't just spouting off crazy things. He knew.
When I was little we attended church every Sunday morning. After church we would have lunch with my grandparents--every Sunday. We would then attend the Sunday evening service. On Wednesday evenings we were in church as well. My grandfather and my father were deacons in the church. My mom sang in the church, my father drove the church bus, my grandparents worked with the youth for a while and then, once they were older, cleaned the church. I grew up with people who served God. Growing up, I struggled with this. I felt the urge, that hunger to dig into God's word and grow closer to Him. I felt a need to serve. And serve is what I did . . . at least for a little while. I went on mission trips and taught Sunday school. Between the spaces in this timeline of my youth there were moments or rebellion. I reached an age where my father, who got up at an insane hour to get to work every morning, stopped attending church on Sunday and Wednesday. If he wasn't going, then why did I have to go? I remember my mom trying to encourage me to go, of course I felt she was judging and criticizing me. I told her that if it wasn't important enough for dad to go, then why should I go? So, I stopped going. High school graduation came and went and college started. Without going into the details of this time in my life, let me just say this--I sought out the wrong people. I clung to those who tore me down and made me feel alone--and I turned my back on God. I had to hit rock bottom to realize that it was up to me to pick myself up, dust myself off, and make the changes needed to get my life back--otherwise, the outcome might not be a good one. I did this. It wasn't easy but I did it, but I still struggled--a lot. For some reason I refused to turn to God. I was angry. If you mentioned church, God, or prayer it made me uncomfortable and I would try to change the subject. I was angry at "So-called" born again Christians for saying one thing but not showing it in their daily lives. I found fault with everything associated with church. I felt that if God could love and forgive sinners why weren't Christians more loving? Why were they not more caring?
Fast-forward to a few years ago. Once you stop going to church the habit forms and it is very hard to get back into the habit. We'd visit a few churches and then find a reason to stop going. In 2004 we had Alex. He had problems from the moment he was born and has struggled the entire 8 years of his life. I remember having moments where I was angry with God. As Alex got older and we tried to attend church we were faced with a new problem--church kids being mean to our Alex. Why does God allow things like this to happen? Why do these children who are supposedly being raised by Christian parents acting so un-Christlike? In 2006 we had Logan. He was a happy-go-lucky little guy and as he grew we noticed he was curious about everything. He thought about everything and wanted to know how things worked and why things were the way they were. As he grew we began to notice that he was also very sensitive and had a big heart. He cares about everyone and when he sees some one hurting, he hurts too. He is my child that I can already see God working in and preparing him to do great things. About a year ago he started asking questions about church, God, and Jesus. He has asked about baptism and the holy spirit--things that we haven't talked about. I truly believe that Logan is seeking God and has a hunger to learn more.
This is the beginning of a new journey for us.
Part 2 to come. ;)