I remember being baptized as a child. No, wait… I remember being christened as a child. No, wait… I don’t remember any of that. But I do remember becoming a member of the University Presbyterian Church. No, wait… I vaguely remember my parents had the minister declare that I had become an official member of that Church.
Nevertheless, I do remember most of the Bible stories taught in their Sunday School. Adam and Eve, Abraham and Lot, Joseph and his brothers, Moses and the Exodus, David and Goliath, Bethlehem and Gethsemane… The stories would serve me well in the end. However, in high school science I learned about Darwin and Evolution. Those lessons would serve me in the end, not at all.
Sometime later, I tried to meld the two, that is Science and Religion, Creation and Evolution. As they both were mere theories to my way of thinking, and both had apparent gaping holes in both proof and logic, it was a very shaky foundation on which to build any solid and enduring structure. But there it stood, that cartoonish house I had haphazardly slapped together, leaky roof and all. Of course, it didn’t stand for long, when the storms of life came… But never mind, I had other things to do. Anyways, there were plenty of other shelters from the storms. I had to get busy with living.
In my late teens, hitchhiking around the country for a bit, when in the high plains desert or in the cornfields of Iowa, I was quite free to yell at God for allowing all the world’s problems, all the evil in the world, and also complain angrily and subconsciously at least, about all the problems he created for me. As was the custom those days (even though I had missed the Hippie Era of the Flower Power folks), when temporarily settled in California, I could still find plenty of shelter in the enduring drug culture.
When that shelter collapsed and I was falling into the menacing abyss, facing that total darkness swallowing me into its maw, a drug induced insanity, I didn’t think twice about it. No more complaining. If God existed… “Oh, God! Please help me!” Immediately, He caught me and lifted me out, placing my feet on solid ground. “So! He is real!” I realized. “God is not just a theory,” I concluded. It was such a great and exciting experience that I again visited the drug canopy, the house drugs and I had built together. I repeated the event several times with the same results until realizing that I was beating my head against the wall, because it felt so good to stop.
Leaving that useless, tattered shelter behind, I ventured back out onto the road. Not really having any particular plan or direction, and not realizing that God was now leading me to a safer haven, a permanent home, a rock solid shelter that would withstand any and all all storms, I hitched rides south, then north, round and about, here and there, until I ran into a friendly ride that offered me an indoor bed, a meal, and shelter. “Thanks!”
Turned out it was an older couple, a Pentecostal preacher and his wife, having spent some years up north in Washington State at the Yakima Indian Reservation. Now in a ranch house, a small non-working farm, they had given themselves over to rescuing young men and women who were, like myself, escaping their own storms. There were eight or nine already there. After supper all of us gathered in their front room. We stood, held hands together, and prayed. Oddly enough, all this did not seem strange to me whatsoever! Then, jubilant singing, new songs I had never heard…”Sing the wondrous love of Jesus. Sing His mercy and His praise!” “When we all get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be!” Again, all this did not seem strange to me. As the evening progressed one or two would share their life experiences and how Jesus had come into their life and had changed it so much for the better. Sincerity and honesty, and a genuine sense of compassion and love.
Some days later, in one of these times of prayer, worship, and testimonies, I came to realize the world wasn’t my problem. I was my problem. I was responsible for the mess I had made of my life. The mess the world was in had nothing to do with it. I wept bitterly and asked God to forgive me and for Jesus to come into my life. And He did. My bitterness turned into joy, and the weight, heavy upon my shoulders, lifted off of me.
As often as I have let the Lord down and have made many mistakes along the way, He has always been patient with me as I keep on trying to learn God’s way of love. He has led me to places of employment. He has given me my own family with five grown children and five Grandchildren. Never has He let me down. He has been a constant and continuing shelter from the storm. He always will be.