I was parked at a Chinese restaurant and Oregon rain was falling. It had been a year of changes—moving into my own tiny home in Sellwood, coping with September 11, the unemployement of my workaholic-self, cross-country train rides, etc. I hate to use a beat-up metaphor, but indeed it had been a year of journeys. And as the car vent blew warmth onto my face, I had finally come to the end of one of them. The words that came out of my mouth were, “I don’t want to believe in you. I don’t want to change my life for you. I don’t want this.”
And that was the truth. I really didn’t want it. Any of it. The church, the steeple, certainly not all the little people. But, if I was honest, I felt God everywhere. It seems everytime I turned I was hearing, reading, seeing God things. So I thought, “Maybe you do exist.” And against all my rationale against a God, I said, “If you do, I don’t want to live my life without knowing you.” I didn’t want to have guessed at deity. It seemed too important to leave to a hunch. And so my haughty prayer was, “I don’t want this. And you will have to proof that you are faithful. But if you show yourself to me, I will commit to seeking you completely. I will go to church and read the Bible and pray and follow most of the commandments. Just show me that you are real.” There was no choir singing, no candles burning, no tear-stained preacher searching for my dirty soul. Just OPB on the radio, the interior of my Subaru and me making pathetic deals with the creator of the universe.
And more strange still, it was all that was necessary. One moment of faith in something that I couldn’t see, touch or taste. One second of belief was enough to begin a tide that would change everything. No matter how hesitant I was, I had joined the club. I agreed to follow Jesus Christ. I was a Christian.
Later that night I found my Bible. I took a deep breath and let it drop open. My eyes fell first on Psalm 46:10. I read, “Be still and know that I am God.” It seemed a pretty direct answer to my earlier prayer and is a command that I continue to pursue. In all things, first trust that He is God and have peace in that truth. All else flows from that.
It’s been 5 years since that night and I have mostly kept my end of the deal. I have attended River West Church ever since, continue to read the Bible and pray to God. I’m even improving at the number of commandments I can keep! Pastor Guy asked me to join the church staff and I have loved life in ministry for 2 1/2 years now. But what I have really learned is that whatever I do is pretty inconsequential. The hero of my story is Jesus. You see, He not only kept His end of my lame, presumptious bargain, but He has overwhelmed me with love every since. It shows in myriad forms, and I have learned to recognize His signature in relationships with friends & family, in the beauty of the world God crafted, in my joy in ministry here & in El Salvador. He is also in the details: the roof over my head, the food on my table, the clothes on my back. I read the Bible and am awed by it’s utter simplicity and complete mystery. How can one book hold both of those together under one leather cover? I expereince Him In small subtle things and in large amazing miracle things. It’s been mind-blowing. It’s terribly humbling. It’s the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to me. And to think it all began in a parking lot 5 years ago . . .