Maybe the best way to start this blog is by sharing a little bit of my person story of faith.
Born in October, 1968, the middle of three children, I was raised by my mother in a single-parent home. One of my earliest childhood memories is leaving the house for church on Sunday mornings with my mother, brother and sister, while my father was parked on the couch reading the Sunday newspaper, still in his bathrobe and completely disinterested in spiritual matters. I remember thinking at the time that if he would join us at church then maybe his relationship with mom would get better. After two years of marital counseling they divorced when I was twelve.
It was through the divorce of my parents that the effects of sin in our family, as well as my own sinfulness, became vividly apparent. I saw clearly that sin is present in all people, causing people to act selfishly toward one another and driving people apart. Understanding the impact of sin, it became obvious that we are all in need of God’s forgiveness and restoration. For example, I had a growing bitterness toward my parents for their failed marriage and the damage it had done to our family. My bitterness fueled other sinful addictions in my life, doing even more damage to me and my family.
During those difficult years though God began to reveal himself as the only eternally-loving and immovably-secure relationship in the world and I received Jesus as my personal Savior and was baptized. The decision to receive Jesus as Savior happened gradually, over the course of several months. Being a person of faith, mom continued to take us to church even as her marriage to my father was failing. For many, many months I sat on the back pew of the church during Sunday morning worship, unconvinced by the message of God’s love for me. “If God loves us, then why is life so painful?” I asked many times.
God was faithful to care for me throughout my teenage years and into adulthood. He has restored much of the damage sin did to me and my family, providing freedom from bitterness and unity for our family through forgiveness. Even the addictions that I had cultivated, in order to cope with the pain of divorce, have been restored.
Over time, I realized that God’s love for us is demonstrated in Jesus’ death and resurrection. The death of Jesus on the cross provides forgiveness for sin, and the resurrection of Jesus from the grave provides life and the only real hope for restoration. Even though we face difficulties in this life, Jesus’ resurrection power gives us the strength to face the difficulties and the confidence that we will one day be fully restored. I remember sharing with my father my decision to receive Jesus as Savior not long after being baptized, but it was not until the age of 65, and only after contracting a mentally and physically crippling disease, that my dad recognized his need for God’s forgiveness and the hope of the resurrection.
I’m thankful for Jesus.