My father was a functioning alcoholic. He drank moderately throughout the week, and heavily on the weekends. Mom nagged him until a fight erupted. Mom wanted Dad to stop drinking; Dad wanted Mom to stop telling him what to do.
I spent my childhood regularly attending church with my family.
I knew Bible stories, but I didn’t really know God.
My parents always found churches to fit their lifestyle. On the outside, we looked like a nice, happy, and peaceful family, but this wasn’t a true reflection of our home life.
My father was a functioning alcoholic. He drank moderately throughout the week, and heavily on the weekends. Mom nagged him until a fight erupted. Mom wanted Dad to stop drinking; Dad wanted Mom to stop telling him what to do. He withdrew as husband and father, preferring alcohol, peace, and quiet over us. Mom was frustrated and hurt.
During these episodes, with childlike faith, I turned to God to for a safe place from my father’s alcoholism and its impact on our family. Looking back, even then God was preparing me for His kingdom.
When I was in 6th grade, our church provided a confirmation class to become “disciples of Jesus and members of the church.” Throughout the 13-week course, they emphasized the importance of making the decision to join the church as my personal decision and not my parents’. Odd as the reasoning seemed, I prayed about it and asked God if this is what He wanted for me.
One afternoon in my bedroom, I was reading a section of my workbook describing the confirmation service. I recall reading how the pastor would place his hand on my head, pray a prayer, and I would become a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Those words shook me.
Me? A disciple of Jesus?
I began imagining walking along the streets of Heaven with Peter, John, Paul, and the other apostles. I could do that! I could be like them! I was overwhelmed with emotion and knew at that moment I wanted to be a disciple of Jesus. I was sure of it. I shared this with my pastor and he thought it was a nice story and was glad that I was ready to join the church. Unfortunately, this was the extent of my church’s “discipleship”. I joined the church and thought it was the end of my journey.
I was a “disciple” and thought it was time to move on with life, but God’s journey for me was just beginning. He brought true Christians into our church where I witnessed truly transformed lives. I attended Bible studies and saw transformed lives there too.
Sanctification, growing to become like Jesus by the work of His Spirit, came slowly. In the beginning I had virtually no discipling, no guidance, but God had my heart and He refused to let go. Sometimes I fought Him for control and made lousy decisions, but He never let me stray far. (Psalm 37:24) Slowly, He brought people into my life who taught me how to“walk in newness of life” after the pattern of Jesus. (Romans 6:4) In college I learned more about God through Bible studies and watching transformed lives.
Several years after college, I had the opportunity to study Romans in depth. In the depth of His Word, God taught me how Jesus imparts His righteousness on me through His death and resurrection. This is how I can stand before a holy God. Holy living is a sign of growing, but righteousness only comes through Jesus Christ. Learning this was a tremendous moment in my life; I was overwhelmed and grateful for what Jesus had done for me on the cross. (Romans 8:3)
During Covid lockdown, I studied Genesis and learned about a God who is awe-inspiring, amazing, and beautiful. He created something out of nothing.
He said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
I understood He had done the same thing in my heart, making something out of nothing.
He said, “Let there be light,” and there was light in me.
He “called me out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
What a beautiful picture God painted in me!
I don’t know when my transformation truly began, but of this I am certain,
“Because of His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. You are being guarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)
Oh! Let me tell you!
Both of my parents eventually became believers in Jesus!
Life was hard, but God is good!