We didn't grow up in a church family, or with a defined faith or denomination. My parents went infrequently, and I really only have one memory of all four of us sitting in a church at the same time ... the only reason I remember it was because my brother lied about not getting a piece of Dentyne gum and I remember inching away from him so that the lightning wouldn't hit me too. Lying in church! I thought for sure he was going to get a smack down from God.
Growing up I bounced around churches and denominations depending on friends and family I was around. It was during those years that I began to feel that "organized churches" and denominations weren't what I was seeking. There was too much judgment inside those walls by people who were not qualified to cast the first stone. Too much hypocrisy in who they were on Sunday mornings and who they were the rest of the week.
So I sought God on my own terms. Walking on the beach and pouring out my heart to Him. Driving across town or across the state or country, pouring out my heart to Him. I would occasionally visit a church with a friend or family member and enjoy the worship, music, and message. I learned, I grew, I thirsted for His word.
But I rarely spoke about my faith to others. I didn't want to offend, or seem pushy as I had seen so many others be. I didn't want to carry my Bible and thump it for emphasis. I didn't want someone to feel I was judging them for their choices ... because I wasn't. Faith is a very personal thing. It is just between you and your God / Higher Power / Universe / whomever you reach for when you find yourself in the darkest dark and the deepest depths ... even if it is just a teddy bear to clutch close. I wanted to set an example by how I lived because I wanted my walk to match my talk. I was doing it backwards.
Lately, however, God has been moving so powerfully in my life that I cannot help but shout out His name in grateful praise for how He has worked in my life. I know, without a doubt in my mind or heart, that I would not be here today if not for His grace, His mercies, and His miracles. I have to share my faith because I want my talk to match my walk, and I want my talk to encourage others to share my walk.
Oh, I'm still not going to thump, or judge, or become pushy and offensive. Faith is still a very personal walk for each of us. But I cannot be silent any longer because of how much I have been blessed ... and saved.
"By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.
There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!"
~ Romans 5:1-5 MSG ~