The Story of How I Came to Church Part 1 - Coming to Christ
1. Coming to Christ
2. Wandering in the Wilderness
3. The Christian Bookstore and John the Baptist
4. Coming to Emmanuel
I am going to post 1 and 2 today and the others will follow in the next several days... and that is a promise because it is already typed out! It is just so long I don't want to bore anyone who happens to read here.
Part 1 - Coming to Christ
I grew up in a Catholic home, the 6th of 7 children. Most of my school career was in parochial schools and my family was very faithful in Sunday church attendance. When I was in the sixth grade, we had to go through classes to prepare for confirmation. This was when I turned away from the Catholic faith. Even as a sixth grader, I knew something was amiss in the doctrine of the Eucharist. I rejected it. I remember thinking that I hoped God would understand that there was no way I could accept His teaching. I thought I was rejecting God and the Bible because I was trained to equate God and the Bible with the Catholic Church. I didn’t know any better. My father died the next year when I was in the 7th grade and that also made me more convinced that God was not real and if He was, He wasn’t concerned very much with me.
Fast forward 8 years to 1986. As far as Christianity and religion goes, I really had not been exposed to anything other than Catholicism, expressed in two types: traditionalism and the mealy-mouthed social gospel. My upbringing had been a mix of the two. I was at this point, however, a proud agnostic. I was attending the local university half-heartedly… but wasting my life and killing brain cells with an enthusiastic fervor.
Waiting tables at a nearby Big Boy restaurant, I used to get a lot of “regulars” that hung out there, drinking coffee. God brought me the message of salvation through two such regulars, Joe and Charlie. They would sit for hours talking about Jesus God and the Bible. When this carpenter in his 40s named Joe told me that Jesus Christ loved me, I dismissed it at first because I thought I knew what his message would be. I assumed that all people who talked about Jesus would be bringing me the “do your best and hope that it is good enough” message that I was raised with.
It was explained to me that I could come to Christ just as I was and that He would forgive me and cleanse me of all the filth that encompassed my life so that God could look at me and see me just as perfect and lovely as Jesus. Jesus could do this for me because He had paid for all my sins on the cross and rose from the dead to prove that my sins were gone and powerless. All I need to do was receive His gift of righteousness by faith, by entrusting my eternal welfare to Him. Seeing that I had nothing to lose (!) I did believe in Jesus and was born again at the age of 20.
Labels: stories for my book