I attended a class at church today in which we learned different methods for sharing our faith. During one of the exercises we were given a worksheet with a few questions to help guide us to write our faith story. One question had to do with identifying a person who has helped you to have a relationship with Christ. My immediate and first answer is my husband, Gil. He is the one constant in my life who pushes me to walk out my faith every day. But, there was another who came in a close second. It’s my pastor, Paul Wirth. I wrote about Paul back in 2011 for a website called Random Writers . Even though I wrote this post over 5 years ago, so much of it still holds true, so I thought I would just share it with you tonight.
Random Writers Week 4 Topic: What is the greatest discovery you have ever made? (In honor of Columbus Day this week)
As a child, I attended a small southern Baptist church where a Sunday with 35 people in attendance was a good day. For me, church meant Sunday School, then preaching on Sunday mornings, Sunday night services, and let’s not forget Wednesday night’s prayer meetings. Let’s just say that as a child I attended church a lot but I was never really present. And when I was there, most of the lessons I heard were sermons preached to adults. Even though I heard what the preacher was saying to us, I’m not sure I ever truly understood what it any of it meant. At some point during these sermons, I completely missed the message about having a personal relationship with God.
My greatest discovery has been the discovery of my love affair with God. Yes, I said ‘love affair’. I read a book a few years ago called The Sacred Romance and it changed my life. (I invite you to read a blog I wrote back in January that tells a little more about just how this book affected me.) I took the message from that book and applied it to everything I had learned in that small southern Baptist church. I took those previous teachings and turned them all upside down, shook ‘em up sideways and out spilled this phenomenal new view of what it means to have a relationship with God. And not just what it means but that God is and has been romancing my heart all of my life. He has been fighting for my love and I’ve been too blind to see it.
Besides the book, there are two other things that I found on my path to this incredible discovery. The first was Relevant Church. For years I said that visiting a building once a week would not bring me any closer to God, I knew him and I loved him. It wasn’t until I discovered (through a friend) Relevant that I found out just how incredibly wrong I had been. For the first time in my life, I look forward to Sunday mornings. I crave the message that our pastor, Paul Wirth, is going to deliver. He has never failed me. Maybe I should I say God has never failed to deliver His intended message to me through Paul. Every Sunday is like the biggest Oprah a-ha moment ever. I am more often than not moved to tears by witnessing Paul’s love for God. It is impossible to deny God’s love for us when you watch what He does through Paul.
The final stepping stone on my journey to discovering God’s love for me has been the music of the band Needtobreathe (discovered through Relevant and a friend). I struggle to find words to describe how their music affects me. I’ve never been a fan of Christian music and Needtobreathe doesn’t promote themselves as a Christian band but there is so much spiritual emotion in their lyrics that it’s almost impossible for me not to find God when I listen to them. Here are a few samples of lyrics from a few different songs:
I’m giving you my heart to break again, Oh I’m leaving you a way to get back in, Return to me ~ from the song Return
I want you to know, I’m leaving to let you go, And someday we’ll walk upon, The streets of gold ~ from the song Streets of Gold
If you’re lost and lonely, broken down, bring all of your troubles, and come lay ‘em down ~ from the song Lay ‘Em Down
This new discovery of the old teachings from that small, country church Sunday school classroom has changed my life in unimaginable ways. I’ve always known that God sent His Son to die for my sins but it wasn’t until I witnessed Paul Wirth standing in front of all of us, tears streaming down his face, that I felt it. I truly got it in a way that had never been clear to me before. Today, I sit in church on Sunday mornings and I am more present than I’ve ever been.
I feel that sometimes people think of making discoveries as being something grand and on the scale of a Christopher Columbus type of discovery. Sometimes, a discovery can be as simple as finding new meaning in old ideas.