Faith

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I don’t often write about religion, or bestow upon you what some may consider my narrow minded views, mostly because I am not adept at quoting scriptures or leading by example. I am not afraid to voice my belief in Christ, nor am I ashamed of it.   I just often prefer quiet mornings sipping coffee, talking to God in my own ways, because when it comes to faith, I am such a work in progress.  I fail time and time again to believe in something bigger than my own will and power.  But I am never without faith in Him; I just simply need to reprioritize.

I come from a blended family, and my {step}father, Ralph, prior to my knowing him, was a Pentecostal preacher, and this is really where faith started to take hold.  Little did I know that God had placed this man in my life for reasons I was not privy to, but he was the vessel through which faith reached me.  Even though he was no longer a preacher, he walked the walk to the best of any man’s ability showing all of us the importance of a relationship with Christ.

Every Sunday, mama would roll us out bright and early, tell us to get dressed, and join them at the breakfast table for a family meal of hotcakes, bacon, and eggs prior to church.  As a 4th grader, this was not my favorite thing to do on a sunny, summer Sunday morning.  I had horses to ride and country to explore.  {Little did I know that my Sunday morning sermon attendance and my incessant need for equine therapy would later coincide in my life}.

Sunday sermons were attended at a few different denominations over the years, Baptist, Pentecostal, Non-denominational, and Presbyterian mainly.  But never the pagan Catholic church… Haha… {This is just tongue-in-cheek humor! Please don’t get offended yet!}  We were not the front row family. We were not the back row family.  We were somewhere in the middle with a quick exit seat near the aisle where my mom could escape with my wily, younger brothers family. And per usual, we were the late family, but never late enough for my taste.

Now, there are two, yes, only two, particular sermons that stand out in my pea-sized brain from over the years. One was from the 4th row pew of the Baptist church on a hot, summer Sunday.  Pastor Joe was at the pulpit with his screechy, boisterous, and ear-piercing voice preaching at us about gluttony, which he related to eating pecan pie. “Lord, I just wanted to eat that whole PECAN PIE!”  Ok, so maybe I don’t remember the whole sermon, but that man soured my breakfast that morning, and if I could have, I would have turned a deaf ear to him.  As it was, I sat there for what seemed ages listening to him drone on about that stupid pie; I didn’t even like pecan pie, and still don’t to this day.  I rode home in the car that Sunday not knowing a thing more about Jesus, not wanting to be Baptist, remembering Pastor Joe’s sweaty armpits and wondering if anyone had taught him that cleanliness was next to Godliness, and hoping we weren’t eating pecan pie anytime soon.

The other church experience that stands out to me, comes from the first time I really attended a Pentecostal sermon. I was about 9 or 10 years old at the time, and I didn’t know the difference between all of these religions, and really still don’t.  But, this particular sermon started out what seemed really nice, with some music I even knew the words to.  After a few praise and worship songs, we sat down and listened to the pastor deliver his message.  I don’t really remember this message either, but I vividly remember what happened after.  The ‘freak show’ started.  The congregation rose to what I assumed would be to sing the closing hymnal.  Nope. All these people started lifting their hands in the air singing songs with their eyes shut, swaying back and forth.  Not me;  I stood there dumbfounded staring at these nut jobs around me, and then the pastor started speaking in Tongues.  What on earth had my mother brought me to?  I had seen something like this in a movie once, and I was fairly certain that snakes would be let out of a bag soon.  This particular day, I learned the importance of prayer.  Never had I prayed harder that God would get me out of this room, and to the sanctuary of somewhere normal! I would have settled for being delivered to the Presbyterian sermon just down the road!

As it turns out, thankfully, these moments would not discourage me from the importance of finding and having faith in my life.  Because, I found it my freshman year of high school, when I hit an emotional low and thought that leaving this world would be better.  I felt it during times of death and disappointment. I discovered it when I found out I was pregnant for the first time, and out of wedlock.  I knew that I could not prepare for what lie ahead without knowing God.  I found it again when I was told I had cancer, which later was misdiagnosed.  I found it when my brother was healed from his cancer.  I found it in the peace and love of my husband’s arms and the smile and laughter of my children.  I found it on the back of my horse riding a high mountain pass, and watching a red-tail hook a strong breeze.  I found it in my relationships with my siblings, and watching my parents reunite their love and marriage.  And yes, I found it in a small, country church pew filled with selfless souls, worn hymnals, and the  highlighted verses of my bible. I found my faith.

Lately, I’ve forgotten the importance of living by it, and remembering that without it, I really have nothing.  No fall back plan, no forward push or purpose. This is the very definition of faith. Reminders, whether small and minute, or magnanimous and difficult, are there for all of us to seek something bigger than ourselves.  Don’t rest on just your own laurels.  Find your faith somehow. Remember you’re meant to be tested and strengthened by God in ways  you don’t understand.  We may not always see the clear, correct path, or get our prayers answered in the form we think necessary, or get answers to our eternal question of why, but that’s faith; Faith that you are just where God wants you in this old life, and it us up to you how you will come out of your walk on this earth.

So, here’s to finding favor in your Sunday.  Here’s to Sunday sermons gone wrong, but oh so right. I’m wishing you a week full of peaceful Sundays, full of faith and love.

Happy Trails~

Heather

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