Describe a memory or encounter in which you considered your faith, religion, spirituality — or lack of — for the first time.
I have heard many people say, “I grew up in a Christian home,” and then go on to describe some aspect of their childhood that influenced their lives later on. It is true for me. I did grow up in a Christian home, but I need to define that statement.
My dad came home from World War II having decided that God and faith and church were all useless. He’d learned to be a weekend beer-drunk, and he’d tossed his own upbringing into the deep blue sea when it came to matters of faith. My mom, on the other hand, had been introduced to Jesus Christ after Dad left for his war service, and she was thrilled and excited to share that experience with him. He wanted none of it.
Skipping over the intervening years, when he was maybe 27 or 28 my dad’s own heart was softened by my mom’s faithfulness, the kindness of caring believers, and a persistent pastor who became a lifelong friend. Dad renewed his faltering relationship with God and felt the call of God on his life to go into the ministry.
I was five when Dad moved us to Minneapolis so he could attend Bible college and earn a degree that would start him on a journey that makes a great story. Of course, it started the rest of us on that same journey, all in our different ways.
Those caring believers that helped get my dad back on track with the Lord became lifelong family friends, more like relatives. We visited them as often as limited funds and time would allow. When I was still about five years old, we were there one Sunday. I don’t remember why. There may have been some special event going on. It doesn’t really matter.
I remember that the weather was warm enough for me to wear a pretty sleeveless dress my mom had made, and that I loved. It wasn’t a hand-me-down; I was the first and only wearer of that dress. We went off to Sunday school, and I loved it. I loved the singing, the stories, and the little papers we got to take home.
On this particular Sunday, one of the family members that had taken us into their hearts was my teacher. I loved her. I thought she was pretty, and she was kind and gentle. As she told us the story of Jesus, her words sank into my heart. All these years later, I still remember her telling us how Jesus came from heaven just to take the penalty of our sin on Himself so that we could go to heaven to be with Him.
I had good parents. I already knew I did wrong things. I understood very clearly that I wasn’t perfect in any way, but that God loved me and sent His own Son to die for me. When my teacher asked us if any of us would like to stay after class and to ask Jesus to forgive our sin and come into our hearts to live, I immediately raised my hand. I remember very clearly kneeling on that basement floor and praying with my teacher. I remember feeling such a sense of gladness, knowing that I was on my way to heaven because Jesus loved me so much.
I’m 67 now, and I’m still filled with gratitude, wonder, joy, and peace at the knowledge that I have a Savior Who was willing to give His life for mine. That one moment, when I was only five, has influenced and affected my entire life.