Monday, July 25, 2011

My First Spiritual Awakening

This summer, I've been introducing myself to my new congregation in the weekly newsletter. Last week, I began sharing about my spiritual journey. I thought this might be helpful to share portions of these articles on my blog as well.

I grew up in a pastor’s home and sometimes being a “preacher’s kid” was difficult emotionally. The other kids teased me and I didn’t always like that. I did the things that kids do growing up, and I’m not proud of all of them. But at the same time, I had this ever-present sense that God loved me. Only later did I know that this was what I’d call the experience of prevenient grace. There was never a moment when I didn’t know God loved me. Even when I felt miserable.

I have already shared with you an experience but I would like to say more about it this week. When I was ten years old, my daddy was leading a youth retreat for our church at Camp Lee in Anniston, Alabama. He was the pastor, so I got to go because I was his kid (I was not old enough for youth group yet). I remember getting to sit in the laps of the teenage girls. But most of all, I remember that these youth talked about their relationship with God in their own language. It did more than impress me … it touched me.

I asked my dad toward the end of the retreat if I could say something at the closing service. Without asking what I wanted to say, he called on me during our Vespers the next day. I remember it like it was yesterday. I said, “All my life I’ve been going to Sunday School and Vacation Bible School, and I’ve learned the stories of Jesus. But this weekend, I have realized that Jesus is more than just a story book character. He’s real. And I want everybody to know that I am going to serve him with my whole life.”

Little did I know at the time I would become a preacher. I’m glad God didn’t reveal that to me yet … I might have run the other way! It has been a great adventure.

Pictured is the prayer trail at my former church with one of the "stations of the cross" in the distance