Just three days into this blogging challenge and I woke thinking, “Why? Why do I say I’ll do these things?!” Facing another full day at the school’s book fair, meal prep for the harvest crew, and finalizing a presentation for tomorrow afternoon, my brain wasn’t even formulating a post for the day.
Then the morning book fair volunteer entered the gym with a hearty handshake, smile and a few minutes worth of introduction during which I learned he was a passionate born again Christian.
For the next three hours, we talked . . . well, he talked and I listened to his testimony of finally accepting God. He openly described the life he had lived (and I did ask that I could share here) . . .
His father passed away five days before he was born and a year later his mother remarried an abusive alcoholic. At 12 years old, he attempted to protect his mother from another beating and ended up in a detention center for his actions. After that he lived with an aunt in a pop up camper with no running water and little funds for clothes, food or much else.
At 16, he dropped out of school and followed his uncle and cousin to a construction site where he learned the building trades and began to work to pay his own way.
Several years later found him a single father at the bottom of a bottle. He related, “I just woke up and knew this was it and started to pray. It was like I was released. I just can’t describe it!”
He paced the floor of the gymnasium, surrounded by an elementary school book fair. He quoted the Bible, introduced me to the wisest man of the world, Solomon and read to me from the book of Proverbs.
He preached as if an entire congregation was listening, but it was just an audience of one. And I was speechless. Here before me was a true pro-claimer of the Word, a person so excited and inspired by God that he was willing to share the whole of his life story in order to punctuate his transformation initiated by faith. He had come from nothing, survived what no one should have to, and believed with his whole being that God will provide for him and his family. “God calls the unqualified and qualifies them,” he said.
There I sat. I’ve attended mass almost every Sunday of my entire life. Baptized, recipient of the body and blood, confirmed in the church family . . . qualified. According to religion, yes. Yet, I could never be so bold to proclaim the Word of God to a perfect stranger. Could I?
At one point, the gentleman reflected on a calling he’s been receiving from the Lord. “I think He wants me to go out and do more. But I’m scared, ya know? Scared to step out from under my holy umbrella.”
While so many people share their faith through service and prayer, how confident are we in our beliefs? Are we willing to stand and declare our faith to the masses, to step out of our comfort zones, to emerge from beneath our umbrellas?
I’ve been contemplating that all day and wonder if a public declaration of faithfulness is necessary to solidify our place in Heaven. Or do our works, our actions, our prayers prayed in our homes, in private . . . do they count too? Most certainly they do. But, the Bible is full of stories of the men and women who proclaimed their love of God and who were persecuted and ostracized for doing so. Is it fear of that response from our peers that keep us, that keep me from being more vocal about faith?
I do not believe there is a black and white answer to those questions. However, I do believe that God shared a message with me today, one that I may have been ignoring, one that He felt needed to be heard. Why else would I receive a three-hour sermon at a book fair?
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