Sunday, March 29, 2009

In Plain View

Twelve years ago today I walked into a little church in the middle of a farmer’s field and was changed. The church was surrounded by fields of grain and was ten miles drive from town. Driving out to the church was an intentional act, people rarely happened by the church and stopped in. The path that I had taken to get to that church was much longer than those ten miles.

I grew up in a Christian family. We did all the things many other families do – go to church every Sunday, celebrate Easter and Christmas, attend Sunday school. Still, somewhere in the midst of this Christianity I was lost. I really didn’t understand and when I turned 18 and was given the choice I chose not to attend church. Don’t get me wrong, I believed in God and believed that He was real. I just didn’t feel any real need for structured religion. I was a good person and that should be enough. But something was missing.

For years I had felt like God was pursuing me. I could pinpoint people in my life that seemed to be there for a purpose. First there was Dallas, my fourth grade friend, who took me to her church for Bible Crusades. Then Laurie who lived across the hall from me at Colorado State University; she invited me to join her for dinner my first night on campus. She, too, took me to church, a David Meece concert, and she told me “Let Jesus be your boyfriend.” Honestly, as an 18 year old that had no experience with boys I didn’t want Jesus as my boyfriend, I wanted the real thing. And later Jennifer, my coworker at Kay-Bee Toys would speak to me of Jesus and His love.

By 1997 I had been living in Oregon for 3 years because I felt like I needed a change. It was a change for sure. I went from Colorado where it is said that people can enjoy 360 days a year of sunshine to Oregon where it is said that people can enjoy 360 days of rain. The big change I anticipated didn’t happen all at once. It was only years later that I began to see most of the change. Life at the time was a full time job during the week, a part time job evenings and weekends, and full time school work as I pursued my bachelor’s degree. I was exhausted and pretty miserable much of the time.

I had a friend at work, though, who was bubbling over with enthusiasm for a church she and her husband had begun attending. I was lost and was questioning and Jan patiently answered my questions. One morning over coffee at work she invited me to join her at church sometime and almost fell out of her chair when I said, “How about this Sunday?” I wanted to see what this church was all about.

That Sunday she and her husband picked me up and we drove ten miles out in the country. There was Plainview. It was a little white church building surrounded by fields that were just beginning to explode with their summer crops. I enjoyed the service and was enthralled by the simple statement from the pastor that our relationship with Jesus needed to be vertical, we needed to keep our eyes on him. Two weeks later when Jan asked me to attend the church’s Easter Program I agreed.

It was a Saturday night around 8pm. The church was dark and the program started with Jesus in the manger. “Hah, wrong holiday,” was all I could think. But that program started with His birth and ended with the actor being crucified on the cross. As I watched I began to see the Bible stories in a new light. When they hung Jesus on the cross I could feel the heat of the day on that dusty hill. I could taste the dust in my mouth as I watched in agony while Jesus died. In my mind’s eye I was transported back in time and fully understood that this act was done for me.
For the first time in my life I shed tears for the man who sacrificed so much 2,000 years ago.

Later that night during prayer I raised my hand when the pastor asked if anyone needed Jesus in their life. It wasn’t until later that weekend that I realized my life had been changed. My life had changed, but I am still changing. I am still learning and growing. Twelve years have passed since I saw with new eyes what had been in plain view all my life.

I still have struggles; the Bible never promised that I wouldn’t. But for the past twelve years I have had a strength that does not come from within me. It comes from God. I have weathered many storms over these years and have clung tight to my faith through them all. I think of that little church sometimes and know that it has weathered storms also, both physical and spiritual. Still it stands strong because the people of that church love and trust God. I want to be like that church, standing strong because of my love and trust in God.

No comments:

Post a Comment