Seeds of Faith

green plant breaking through the earth

Seeds fell on my soul for years before I began to understand the message of salvation and grace.  I can look back through my story and find seeds planted by a variety of people throughout my life.  For many years, the seeds lay dormant, waiting for water and fertilizer to make them grow.

He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.  All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.  As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” Mark 4:26-29

I’ve attributed a lot of my salvation to the church I attended in my early twenties, but it’s not the church that saved me.  The church embraced me so I could accept the water and fertilizer and sunshine needed to help those seeds sprout and grow.  My revelations during the singles retreat  allowed the seeds to crack open, bits of green pushing against the soil.

From that point on, I chose to expose myself to the teaching and study of the Bible.  Even doing this, it took another year before I truly understood the crucifixion and resurrection. I had begun to study the Bible through other books as well as reading scripture.  One of the books I read was Max Lucado’s book about the time Jesus spent on the cross, Six Hours One Friday.

I remember vividly the moment I understood.  I often  read before bedtime and had reached the part where Lucado explains how Christ took on our sins and God, his father, could not look on him while he did this. This is why he cried out:

“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).  Matthew 27:46

For the first time ever, God left Jesus.  He was completely separated from the father.

As a child I thought the point of the cross was to show that Jesus could return from the dead thus proving he was the son of God.  I did not understand that he took on all of the sins of the world. No one explained it to me before.  No one.  I guess everyone assumed that as a Christian I knew this.  I didn’t.

What a revelation!  Now, everything began to fall into place.  My little seedling pushed through the crust of the soil and reached toward the son in humility and joy.

I wonder how many people have seeds just waiting for those first drops of water, for that one point when the life inside their shell pushes forward to blossom  into a life of grace?

Who Said Christians Are Perfect?

signs-416444_640_Pixabay no attribute req“You’re not at all like I thought you were.”  Diana*, a member of the singles group in my church said this to me on the night of my going away party.

Confused by her response and frustrated that she had finally dropped the barriers to friendship when it was too late, I asked what she meant.

“Anna* talks about you a lot.  You’re close to her, so I believed her and stayed away from you.   But Penny and Ruth always stood up for you and said they liked you.”

Hurt and shock assaulted my mind. Anna, a single mother, was my friend.  Our children were friends. Yet, Diana, who I always wanted as a friend, sat before me confessing that one of my closest friends had been stabbing me in the back the whole time.  I won’t go into details, but I knew she told the truth.

Yes, I could be angry at Anna. I could be angry at Diana for believing Anna rather than letting my actions speak for myself. But what good would it do? Diana had finally dropped the walls and seen the truth.  Too bad it was too late for us to be close friends.  I was moving in two days.

The apostle Paul writes of this problem in Romans:

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;  but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.  What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?  Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:21-25

Over the years, I experienced this truth in action.  I lived it. I suffered from other Christians fighting this war with evil.

Christians are not perfect.

The public holds Christians to a higher standard because of the love our faith proclaims.  They use our failures to label us as frauds.  We should strive to meet that higher standard, but we can never be perfect.  No one can. We can’t measure up to Christ’s perfection.

BUT, and this is a very big but, the blood of Christ saves us.

Consider this, if we were perfect, why would we need saving?  Why would we need the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross?  Why would Jesus instruct us about forgiving our brothers and sisters?

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Matthew 18:21-22

Peter asked Jesus about specifically forgiving his brothers and sisters, in other words, other believers.

Sometimes Christians sin.  Sometimes we mess up.  That is why we need salvation.

I understood this.

Was I hurt?  Sure.  But I knew from personal experience how easy it was to fail.  I forgave Anna and didn’t let distance change the beginning of a new friendship with Diana.

You might wonder why this event belongs in the story of my journey to faith.  For one simple reason, even though this church  embraced me in a way that allowed me to find my faith again, not everyone in the church treated me well.  I could have turned from God because of this, but it’s impossible to expect perfect love from any group, Christian or not. They will make mistakes.  As recently as this past fall, I received an apology from someone who felt they had wronged me thirty years ago.  I told him not to worry.  I had forgiven him.  I did appreciate the apology, though, and I hope he experienced some relief in the knowledge of my forgiveness.

Life is a journey.  We follow the path we choose, but God puts people and events in our lives to show us the right way.  Sometimes we follow His lead, sometimes we don’t.  He always redirects us in hopes that we find the right path, but, thankfully, if we continue to strive to do what is right, Christ is our salvation when we fail.


* Names changed

Read more about Barbara’s journey to faith.

The Sacrifice of Christ in the Words of a Poet

Image courtesy of bela_kiefer/

Image courtesy of bela_kiefer/

One of our church members recited a poem during service last Sunday.  He had known the poet, Mark Meadows, in high school, and he shared how Mark wrote and recited this poem with their church on the day he accepted Christ as his savior.  I listened to the words amazed at their simplicity and beauty and knew I wanted to share it here. I found out how to contact Mark Meadows, and he kindly gave me permission to share his poem on this blog.  Mark, also, indicated that he doesn’t mind if people share it, so feel free to pass this along to others.

All of Me

Oh Lord, here alone I stand
Reaching out to touch your nail scarred hand
I take myself back to the time that you were on that tree
Thinking, Lord, of the love and the blood you shed for me
All alone the cross you did carry
The men, they laughed, drank, and were merry
They didn’t understand, oh Lord, the reason you were here
Only few stood by with their eyes full of fear

They pressed hard that twisted, thorn filled crown
You knelt there Lord and didn’t utter a single sound
They took your hands, oh Lord, and nailed them to the beam
They took your hands, oh Lord, and split them at the seam
With right over left, bent slightly at the knee
They nailed your feet to that heavy, carved out tree
“Some Christ he is,” a man in the crowd was saying
As you hung there Lord, head bowed, you never stopped praying

You said to Mary, before all things could be done
Looking at John, you said “Woman behold thy son”
Your face grew pale and your mouth grew dry
“Just some water, and then I shall die…”
They gave you vinegar, Lord, instead you might drink
It was just about over, your body began to sink
It was black as night, there shone no sun
When you cried to the heavens, “It’s finished – Thy will be done!”

You did it for me, Lord, so that I might live
I owe you my life, Lord, which I gladly give
All you ask of me, Lord, is that I follow close to Thee
No less can I give when I think to the time you suffered on the tree.

Mark Meadows, 1979

at the Saline, Michigan Church of Christ