In The Beginning…
When in doubt about where to start, they say it is good to start at the beginning.
Of course, the beginning of what?
Why don’t we tackle the thorniest subject first?
When I was young my mother took us to church. It was a Reformed Presbyterian church in Upstate New York. I grew up there singing traditional hymns and learning about traditional Christianity. I was confirmed there and it was there in that church that I found a yearning for something…more.
As a young teen, I hungered for a deeper connection, a spiritual lift, an explanation for the things I felt.
A friend at the time invited me to an Assembly of God revival.
It was completely foreign to me, and fascinating and I felt something. It was enough to bring me back. It was enough to draw me onto the path that would forever change me. I was thirteen, going on fourteen. Young, impressionable, and with my family falling apart around me as my parents divorced, I was vulnerable.
Now, I’m not going to say that I was preyed upon by evil cultists. It wasn’t like that. I walked into it, eyes open. I went in with a good basis of faith to begin with. What I got at the AoG that I wasn’t getting at my previous church was experience, it was that Holy Ghost fire, the high of Sunday morning service.
At first it was not exactly easy. I didn’t live close to the new church and I didn’t have a built in ride as we did to the old one. But I did what I could to get there. I bought a Bible with my babysitting money. I read it.
It wasn’t my first time reading it. As a precocious reader, I had picked it up a few years before. But this time I was reading it with a purpose. I started at the beginning. I made notes. I had questions…but more than my questions I had this burning need to know…the kind of knowing that comes from experiencing.
Not long after that, we moved to my mother’s home town, which had its own local Assembly of God. We started attending as a family. More than that, I had cousins who attended there too. I had vindication of a sort. And camaraderie. Kids my own age who believed as I did. Good ego stroke.
Before we wander on, there are some things I want to say. I believed. With my entire being. I ached with my desire for God, to be closer, to be a better person, to feel the touch of the Holy Spirit. I spent more time reading my Bible and praying than I did getting homework done. My entire life revolved around the church.
I was not unhappy. I’m not sure I had figured out what happy was for me, but I had good times. I have good memories of that time. I was a junior in high school, I felt I had found something I had been missing. But it had come with a price, and looking back on it now, I recognize it for what it was.
It was my own form of teenage rebellion. I rejected the world my father lived in. Or rather, what my teenage, distorted view of reality told me was the world my father lived in. Of course, now I see that a little differently too. I was determined to be different from him. And so I rebelled.
And this? This was just the beginning…