I was born in July of 1976. When I was two, however, I contracted spinal meningitis. Now, I was too young to really remember any of it, but I've been told stories. One thing I know, although I've never been told, is that I was heavily prayed for.
From what I've been told, I was lucky to have lived through that, let alone come out with no major physical problems or brain damage. (although the jury is sometimes still out on that one.) The one scar that I do bear from the entire incident is my lazy eye. The Bible tells us that God has a plan for each of us. That's never really been hard for me to believe. I mean, the doctors said that I could have easily died, so God must want me to hang around for something, right?
Well, I got a little older and went to Sunday School at our old church. There I learned the basics of the Christian Religion. I knew that God was God, that Jesus was his son, that He died on a cross and rose at Easter. I knew that He was born on Christmas and that he died so that we can go to heaven. What never clicked with me, was that He did all this, but I had to respond. I never realized that I had a part to fulfill.
Fast forward a little bit to High school. Now, I think I was a pretty good kid. I never got into trouble (except for a few times), and was generally a nice guy. However, Romans 3:23 says "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" - obviously being a good person isn't enough. It was after I had met Sandy and we began going out that I realized this. (No the two are not directly connected.) I was infuriated by some comments that a "friend" of mine had made, and refused to speak to him, even though he had only been joking around. Now, back in my "younger days" I had a bit of a temper, and holding grudges was no problem whatsoever for me.
Over that summer (by this time, we had switched to this church) pastor Wilson preached on forgiving others because God forgave us - even if they don't deserve our forgiveness or haven't asked for it. Well, during that service, I prayed, telling God that I realized I wasn't doing things the way that He wanted. I asked Him to forgive me, and told Him that I would try to do things His way from here on out. At that point I became a citizen of heaven. Now, did I realize all of the ramifications of that prayer? No. I don't think I had all the background to, but I know that I meant what I said. One thing learned growing up was that your word was important. So is that the end of my story, right? Nope.It would be another 7 years before I came to a more complete realization of what had happened when I prayed that prayer. Now, I'll admit that I didn't have the greatest interest in the things of the Lord right away. In fact I would have to confess that those first seven years of my Christian walk were, well... God evidently has a good deal of Patience. I didn't have much interest at all in learning about the Bible, about God. Maintaining my relationship with Christ was pretty low on my priorities, and I carried over some sinful habits from BC into AD. In two of his epistles, Paul tells the churches he's writing to to grow up in their relationship with God, so that they can stop being bottle fed spiritual things and be put onto solid food. (Uh... yes that is paraphrased a bit - 1 Cor. 3:2&3 & Hebrews 5:12 if you want his words.) These first years of mine, I was on formula and didn't care to move onto solid food.
After a loooong dating period, I asked Sandy to marry me. Little did I realize that one of Pastor Wilson's requirements in pre-marital counseling was that we attend three services a month together. I thought "Whoa! That's all but one a month! And I'm down at the University half of the weekends, and..." So pastor made me a deal. He said he would count a Sunday school class as a service, since he realized that I usually could only come home 2 weekends a month. We joined Ruth's class, and I loved it. I grew in my knowledge of the Lord a good bit from that class - mainly from all the class discussion. And I kept wanting to come back because I enjoyed the people so much. Church wasn't boring to me anymore!So here I was, having grown in my relationship with God, and learned enough to know better and still had leftover sinful habits from before. I knew that I had to get rid of them, after all, that was what I told God I would do... so I tried and tried and couldn't break my habits. I asked God to try and help me beat them, and still could not. Why? you would think that if He wanted you to do something, He'd help you out... but not this time, because God had something else for me to learn - submission. I finally became so frustrated with it that I prayed and told God "fine! I can't do anything with all of this junk! It's all yours! I'm giving it all to you because I am at my end and it ain't getting me anywhere." It wasn't until I had submitted to God and given it all to Him that I was able to break the sinful habits that kept me from having a deeper relationship with Him.
All of a sudden it felt like God had pulled away the curtains and his light poured in. Where my junk had been cluttering things up - ask Sandy - I can clutter with the best of them... Anyway, God cleaned that all out and filled up the space that it left with His hope & His love. It was not long after I discovered my favorite Bible verse: Micah 7:8,9
"Do not gloat over me, my enemy!
"Because I have sinned against him,