Saturday, June 5, 2010

My First Glimpse of Christ

We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command. Whoever loves God must love his brother.
1 John 4:19 – 21

I was fortunate enough to be born in a loving Christian family. We lived a block from Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Gastonia. You could generally find me running up 7th Avenue as the Sunday School bell was ringing on Sunday mornings – unless one of my big brothers had dragged me down the street early.

We didn’t talk about God much in our house. We didn’t share our faith around the dinner table or in open conversation. We said the blessing before every meal, we said our prayers every night before bed, and we were a Sunday School, Weekday Church School and church every week. But we just didn’t talk about God much in general conversation.

But we sang. My mother hummed and softly sang hymns while preparing our meals or cleaning our house, or bathing me as a small child. I didn’t think that grits or rice would cook properly without mother softly singing “He Leadeth Me” or “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”, or “Beautiful Savior”. As mother grew older, we would sit and listen to taped music. “Surely the Presence” was her very favorite.

My dad sang more boldly. He sang “Onward Christian Soldiers” and I marched like a little Christian soldier right beside him as he sang. During Sunday services, you could hear my Dad’s voice above others singing “Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me”.

We gave. Every Sunday, I watched my father place cash in one of those envelopes with the number on it and seal the envelope up. I got to put the envelope in the brass plate when it was passed down our pew at church. I was always given a big quarter to put in the Sunday School plate on Sunday. And I was reminded that that quarter was my offering to God for all that I had received during the week.

And we prayed. I often awoke to my mother sitting on the side of my bed, stroking my hair and whispering prayers of thanks to God for giving her the gift of ME. I would lay quietly pretending to be asleep as I listened to her prayer. What a comfort to me as a little child.

One day a neighbor came over and discussed with mother the fear that she had that her son had just gotten his driver’s license. Mrs. Holscher asked my mother how she remained so calm when her children were out in the world. My mother replied that none of us ever walked out of the house without mother saying a prayer asking God to protect us until we entered the door to our home again.

What an inspiration it was to be raised in that home - and what a safety net I felt around me when I left our home. I knew that I was a blessing. I knew that God was the guidance for my parents. I knew that giving to the church and to those in need was as much a part of our weekly budget as buying groceries or gas for the car.

In our house, we didn’t talk about God at our evening meals. But I was given parents who lived with God’s guidance in everything that they did. They made me a part of their giving, their prayer life, their study, and their Christian walk… without ever saying a word.

Lord, thank you for the people who you have placed in my life. Thank you for my family who led me to you. Thank you for music that praises you and prayers that protect us. And thank you, Lord, for the Grace that you give us when we ignore those who you put in our path. Thank you for caring enough to lead us back to you. Amen

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