Friday, October 24, 2008

The Road to the Cross - Part 1

Whether or not I grew up in a Christian home could probably be put up for debate. Was it in the same manner I am trying to raise my own children? No. I have some very vague recollections of attending Sunday School at Melodyland when I was a very little girl. I had a relative who would take me to church periodically throughout my younger years. I remember specifically being taken to a church in The Circle in Orange called Sonlight Church. It was a converted movie theater and in fact my folks I believe used to go on dates there when they were teens. (But I wouldn't swear to it in court.) I also remember a few uncomfortable visits to the youth group of a Baptist church when I was about 14, and I remember the youth pastor making a visit to my home to welcome me. Interestingly enough when Neal and I got married I chose to do it in that church and asked that pastor to marry us, because I had been touched by his efforts to welcome me, and although I couldn't give you a good reason "why" I wanted to be married in a church, and that was the strongest connection I had to one.

I know my parents went to church as kids, and in fact I'm pretty sure they even met in church. But going to church was never a consistent part of my upbringing. Did they hold Judeo-Christian values? Yes, I guess probably I would say they did. Did I think they believed in God? Yes, I suppose, did I know what it meant to have a personal relationship with Him? No. Did we pray as a family or study the bible together? No. Did we have a "family bible" in the house? Yes, but it was for decoration not for use, I don't think I ever opened it other than to see the list of family births, marriages and deaths.

At Sonlight in January 1981 or 1982 I walked an aisle and made a commitment to follow Christ. My grandmother has one of my great-grandmother's old date books, and the exact date is noted in it. I have sensory memories of an absolute compulsion to go forward that day. I remember being powerfully moved by the words of the preacher and wanting to know Christ. My visual memory of it is like tunnel vision, I can just see the aisle going down between the theater seats and remembering I just wanted to walk it to the altar as quickly as I could.

Neal and I used to work with the youth group at our church, and attending youth group is an absolute non-negotiable with me for Jacob now (which fortunately is not an issue because he wants very much to be there,) because of my experience as a young person.

On that day in the old converted movie theater I believe I had a real encounter with the living God, and I sincerely asked him into my heart. Unfortunately no one ever took the time to seriously and consistently disciple me after that day. Like I said, I dropped in and out of other churches over the next couple years, but I never got truly plugged in. Then I spent the rest of my teenage years making decisions apart from a biblical perspective. I often wonder what choices I might have made differently had I been discipled as a young person. But I don't think it with too much regret because I know the redeeming power of God and have seen great evidence of it in my life.

Because there was no active discipleship in my life, I walked away from that commitment without a true understanding of what I had done or prayed. I went on living my life without any significant difference and spent the teenage years that followed being not just "in" the world, but also "of" it. By the time I was 19 if you had asked me who Jesus was I would have told you He was "a good man," and I called the Bible a "book of stories to be intrepreted" not to be believed as anything other than words written by man.

I lived my life my way, crossing a few lines, some farther than others, but never getting so far out of line that anyone ever saw me as out of control or in any real danger, so I skated under the radar until the summer of 1989 when I was 19.

To be continued...

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