My own personal faith journey could also be titled “The Tale of the Prodigal Christian.”
I was raised Methodist and attended Sunday School as a child, and then worship and youth group up until my early teen years. But that all changed not long after I turned 15 — my dad passed away very suddenly from a heart attack. In despair, I became discouraged and lost my faith. I let bitterness and anger at God consume me, wondering what kind of God would allow such tragedy to happen.
A few years later I saw a movie that planted the seed for rekindling my relationship with God. The movie was “Oh, God! Book Two” starring George Burns. In one scene He (God) explains to a young girl why He allows pain and suffering … but still I continued to put God on the back burner of my life.
That short scene from a movie did, however, serve as a crucial pivot point, and gave me strong pause to reconsider my condemnation of and anger at God (you can watch the movie scene here.)
My life’s story continued along a common trajectory … the usual things like starting a career, getting married, and having kids. But while I got married in a church, that was about the extent of me reconnecting with God over the next 40 years. (Having a career in emergency services certainly served as a convenient excuse … I was working Sundays, and therefore could not attend church!)
But something happened towards the twilight of my working career. Things began happening to me at work that were so profound and beyond the realm of coincidence that I was compelled to look inwards and do some soul searching. It was during this period of introspection that I felt what I can only describe as ‘a stirring of my soul’ – a yearning and almost compulsion to draw close again to God.
So almost exactly 40 years after I shunned God in anger, I decided to return to him with humility and longing. I connected with a church I love, and am now pastored and supported by a group of like-minded believers who lift me up in faith and hope.
In his best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life, Pastor Rick Warren speaks of the prolific use of the number 40 throughout the bible. Much like Moses leading the doubting Israelites for 40 years, I too wandered the emotional desert of spiritual loneliness and living a secular life for four decades.
While I cannot change my past action or choices, I do my best every day to move forward and live in a way to honor God and serve others as I can.
One aspect of Christianity I find intriguing is that all believers come to God and the Trinity via their own unique paths. Some are brought up in faith and never depart, while others never learn of God’s greatest gift to us until their later years.
That gift – the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as permanent atonement for mankind’s sins (past, present and future) – is free for the taking the moment you decide to accept God as your Lord and Saviour, when you ask Jesus to come into your heart and lead your life.
So many people spend their lives searching for satisfaction and validation from external sources — human relationships, vanity & selfishness, unbridled ambition, or an unrelenting quest to acquire material things. In the end though, those things are hollow and unsatisfying … akin to being allowed to feast forever on cotton candy. It may feel good in the moment but proves woefully inadequate for daily sustenance (as you waste away and die of malnutrition.)
The word of God and his son Jesus Christ is truly the Bread of Life. I urge and encourage you to seek it out, and to develop a personal relationship with God and the Trinity. By doing so you will relish in the never-ending emotional banquet of sublime peace that God’s love provides to all who believe in Him.