Monday, September 6, 2010
Thirty-one years ago, my family and I moved to Florida from Pennsylvania. I was 15 years old at the time. I didn't adjust to the move very well. I spent the last three years of high school as a very lonely and depressed teenager.
Something amazing happened in the midst of all the loneliness and depression though. I was invited to attend church with a girl who had just moved in, down the street from me. It was in that little Assemblies of God church that I heard about a God who loved me, accepted me, and died for my sins. That, in and of itself, was not a new revelation to me. After all, I had attended church my whole life. First in a Catholic church, until some of their beliefs and practices upset my Mother. Then somewhere around the time I was in second grade, we started attending a small Presbyterian church, where most of my childhood memories are centered around. In that little Presbyterian church, I learned of God and Jesus, and of a cross and a resurrection. I heard all the popular children's Sunday School stories, like David and Goliath and Daniel in the lion's den. I learned and memorized many songs from the hymnal that was stored in the back of each pew. As I grew older, I even attended the Youth Group that was held each Sunday afternoon at the Minister's home. I thought, since I had attended church all my life, that I knew everything I needed to know about church and God.
But as I sat in that A/G church in Florida, I was taught something that I had never heard before. That the God of the universe loved me so much that He wanted to have a personal relationship with me! That revelation transformed and continues to transform my life to this day. That lost, lonely and depressed girl became complete and whole through the love of her Heavenly Father.
Fast forward thirty-one years, which brings us to today. After all these years, I was able to revisit that little Presbyterian church where it all started for me. I walked on the wood floor that made the same creaking sound as it did many years ago. I sat in the same wood pew that once held my fidgety little body. I browsed the same hymnal that I once held as we sang songs that I did not fully understand their meaning. I admired the same stained-glass windows that brought such comfort to me as a child, with images of my wonderful Jesus. Revisiting this church, and remembering where I came from was very therapeutic and fulfilling for me. It stands as a marker in my life. One that reminds me of not only my roots, but of the fact that God has had his hand of mercy and grace on me from the beginning. Even when I didn't fully understand who He was or how He fit into my life.
Now everytime I sing an "old hymn", memories of that Presbyterian church flood my mind and I an overwhelmed with a sense of awe and graditude for a God who knew me and loved me from the very start.